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Terror in the House: The Early Kuttner, Vol. One
Henry Kuttner
Haffner Press, 661 pages

Terror in the House
Henry Kuttner
Henry Kuttner was born in 1915 in Los Angeles, California. He moved to New York in 1940 after his marriage to C.L. Moore to be nearer the writing markets. Joint works included collections like Line to Tomorrow, Ahead of Time, and Tomorrow and Tomorrow and well-know short fiction like "The Twonky," "Don't Look Now," "A Gnome There Was," and "Mimsy Were the Borogoves." After burning out as writer, he used the GI Bill for a college education at the University of California. A few years thereafter, they worked doing in radio scripts and screen-writing when Henry Kuttner died in 1958.

ISFDB Bibliography
SF Site Review: Elak of Atlantis
SF Site Review: The Last Mimzy Stories
SF Site Review: Fury

Past Feature Reviews
A review by Mario Guslandi

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Does anyone know for sure how many stories were written by Henry Kuttner? I doubt it.

Although he died when he was only 42, Kuttner, in the late 30s and 40s published, under a score of pen-names, hundreds of tales in the most famous pulp magazines (Weird Tales, Thrilling Mystery, Strange Stories, Spicy Mystery, Marvel Science Stories, etc). And the present collection, subtitled The Early Kuttner is 661 pages long. It includes forty stories and, mind you, is only the first volume, the second still being in the works.

To describe in detail Kuttner's huge fictional output or to comment upon every single story is an impossible task. The reviewer can only try to provide a short overview of the author's body of work, refer the most inquisitive readers to the learned Introduction to the book penned by Garyn G. Roberts and invite them to savor Kuttner's tasty stuff by buying a copy of this hefty collection.

The book itself is a pleasure to handle: a beautiful, well produced hardcover by Michigan-based Haffner Press with a colorful, vivid cover art by Harry V. Parkhurst. The contents reflects the variety of genres at which Kuttner tried his hand: horror, dark menace, Lovecraftian fiction, Science Fiction, "erotic" pulp, etc.

Starting with Kuttner's most famous story "The Graveyard Rats" -- a creepy, claustrophobic horror tale quickly become a classic in the genre -- the book features tales of evil, torture, violence, sex, crime, revenge, Satanism. You name it, it's there. All the ingredients of classical pulp fiction are employed by Kuttner to create strong, graphic stories which, admittedly, are seldom polished and refined, but constantly sparkling, thrilling and gripping. Evil is evil at its worst, the human race displays its vices and its (rare) virtues in flying colors.

Some tell-tale titles, just to give you an idea are "The Devil Rides," "Power of the Snake," "Coffins for Six," "The Eater of Souls," "The Faceless Fiend," "My Brother, the Ghoul," "My Name is Death," "It Walks by Night."

Plots may be implausible and preposterous, but we don't care. As readers we like to be amazed and entertained, and Kuttner's stories are stunning and entertaining, especially if you take them one at the time in order to avoid repetitiveness and maintain your suspension of disbelief throughout the narrative. An additional reason of interest is that most of the stories assembled in this first volume have never been reprinted after their original appearance in the old pulp magazines. Praise then goes to editor/publisher Stephen Haffner for giving us the opportunity to enjoy once again a bunch of great stories from a long gone past, so different from today's often anemic fiction.

Copyright © 2011 by Mario Guslandi

Mario Guslandi lives in Milan, Italy, and is a long-time fan of dark fiction. His book reviews have appeared on a number of genre websites such as The Alien Online, Infinity Plus, Necropsy, The Agony Column and Horrorwold.


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