Henry Kuttner's picture

Henry Kuttner

USA flag (1914 - 1958)
Husband of C L Moore

aka Keith Hammond, Lawrence O'Donnell, Lewis Padgett

Henry Kuttner worked alone and in collaboration with his wife, the great science fiction and fantasy writer C.L. Moore, one of the four or five most important writers of the 1940's, the writer whose work went furthest in its sociological and psychological insight, to making science fiction a human as well as technological literature. He was an important influence upon every contemporary and every science fiction writer who succeeded him. In the early 1940's and under many pseudonyms, Kuttner and Moore published very widely through the range of the science fiction and fantasy pulp markets.

Their fantasy novels, all of them for the lower grade markets like Future, Thrilling Wonder, Planet Stories, are forgotten now; their science fiction novels, Fury and Mutant are however well regarded. There is no question but that Kuttner's talent lay primarily in the shorter form; Mutant is an amalgamation of five novelettes and Fury, his only true science fiction novel, is considered as secondary material. Three are, however, 40 or 50 shorter works which are among the most significant achievements in the field and they remain consistently in print. The critic James Blish, quoting a passage from Mutant about the telepathic perception of the little blank, silvery minds of goldfish, noted that writing of this quality was not only rare in science fiction but rare throughout literature; "The Kuttners learned a few thing writing for the pulp magazines, however, that one doesn't learn reading Henry James."

In the early 1950's, Kuttner and Moore, both citing weariness with writing, even creative exhaustion, turned away from science fiction; both obtained undergraduate degrees in psychology from the University of Southern California and Henry Kuttner, enrolled in an MA program, planned to be a clinical psychologist. A few science fiction short stories and novelettes appeared (Humpty Dumpty, finished the Baldy series, in 1953.) Those stories -- Home There Is No Returning, Home Is the Hunter, Two-Handed Engine and Rite of Passage -- were at the highest level of Kuttner's work. He also published three mystery novels with Harper & Row (of which only the first is certainly his; the other two, apparently, were farmed out by Kuttner to other writers when he found himself incapable of finishing them).

Henry Kuttner died suddenly in his sleep, probably from a stroke, in February 1958; Catherine Moore remarried a physician and survived him by almost three decades but she never published again. She remained in touch with the science fiction community, however, and was Guest of Honor at the World Convention in Denver in 198l. She died of complications of Alzheimer's Disease in 1987.

Genres: Mystery, Fantasy

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Series contributed to
Black Cat Weekly
   14. Black Cat Weekly #14 (2021) (with John Gregory Betancourt, Zenith Brown, Melodie Campbell, Nick Carter, Hal Charles, Barb Goffman, Edmond Hamilton, Tom Purdom and Larry Tritten)
   34. Black Cat Weekly #34 (2022) (with Hal Charles, Sara M Chen, William F Gekle, Mel Gilden, Otis Adelbert Kline, Arthur Machen, Jeffrey J Mariotte, Marsheila Rockwell and Stephen D Rogers)
   35. Black Cat Weekly #35 (2022) (with Christopher B Booth, Hal Charles, Lester del Rey, Eve Fisher, Mel Gilden, Malcolm Jameson, Fred Saberhagen, Sarah R Shaber, Michael Swanwick and W C Turtle)
   39. Black Cat Weekly #39 (2022) (with John Gregory Betancourt, Hal Charles, Hulbert Footner, Saul Golubcow, Edmond Hamilton, Malcolm Jameson, Clifford Knight, Art Taylor, Joseph S Walker and Walter Jon Williams)
Non fiction
Anthologies containing stories by Henry Kuttner
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Short stories
The Black Kiss (1937) (with Robert Bloch)
Quest of the Starstone (1937) (with C L Moore)
The Salem Horror (1937)
Hydra (1939)
The Misguided Halo (1939)
Dr. Cyclops [short story] (1940)
Threshold (1940)
A Gnome There Was (1941)
Deadlock (1942)
Masquerade (1942)
Piggy Bank (1942)
We Guard the Black Planet! (1942)
Clash by Night (1943) (as by Lawrence O'Donnell)
Gallegher Plus (1943)
Ghost (1943)
Shock (1943)
Time Locker (1943)
The World is Mine (1943)
The Children's Hour (1944) (with C L Moore)
Housing Problem (1944)
Camouflage (1945)
What You Need (1945)
Juke-Box (1946)
This is the House (1946)
Vintage Season (1946) (as by Lawrence O'Donnell)
Pile of Trouble (1948)
See You Later (1949)
The Sky is Falling (1950)
Android (1951)
Those Among Us (1951)
By These Presents (1952)
De Profundis (1953)
Home is the Hunter (1953)
Or Else (1953)
Year Day (1953)
Two-Handed Engine (1955) (with C L Moore)
The Grab Bag (1991) (with Robert Bloch)

Books about Henry Kuttner
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