For that price, don’t even think about it, people. Just do it. Kuttner is a joy to discover. My Science Fiction Book Club edition of The Best of Henry Kuttner from the 1970s is One of the Books With Which I Shall Never Part.
Wait, she married a what who did what? And stayed married? Egad.
Holy carp, thanks, Cory!
I’ve been collecting Kuttner since the 1970s, and there’s several here I did not have.
A lot of these are on Gutenberg thanks to the Online Distributed Proofreading Team, who have been digitizing from the old pulps that haven’t had copyright renewed.
I think it would be worth mentioning that one of Kuttner’s more popular pseudonyms was Lewis Padgett, under which he published “Mimsy Were the Borogoves”; he shared it with Moore, and may have shared authorship of the story, along with some of the others listed in the collection.
I’d also be interested in a reasonably objective account of why the stories were withdrawn from publication; Moore’s second husband may have indeed been a controlling jerk, but one other source says that “her second husband, a physician, loathed sf and its denizens and wanted her to have nothing to do with it or writing.” Knowing what we know about certain other (in)famous SF authors, it could have been from her having had her ass grabbed once too often at a convention.
What a great link. Loving the list of pseudonyms, it’s much more complete than mine. Thanks!
Excerpt from “The World is Mine”, by Kuttner:
“The little guys came through the machine or whatever it was. You said you hadn’t adjusted it right, so you fixed it.”
“I wonder what I had in mind,” Gallegher pondered.
The Lybblas had finished their milk. “We’re through,” said the fat one. “Now we’ll conquer the world. Where’ll we begin?”
Gallegher shrugged, “I fear I can’t advise you, gentlemen. I’ve never had the inclination myself. Wouldn’t have the faintest idea how to go about it.”
“First we destroy the big cities,” said the smallest Lybbla excitedly, “then we capture pretty girls and hold them for ransom or something. Then everybody’s scared and we win.”
“How do you figure that out?” Gallegher asked.
“It’s in the books. That’s how it’s always done. We know. We’ll be tyrants and beat everybody. I want some more milk, please.”
“So do I,” said two other piping little voices.
Grinning, Gallegher served. “You don’t seem much surprised by finding yourselves here.”
“That’s in the books, too.” Lap-lap.
“You mean—this?” Gallegher’s eyebrows went up.
“Oh, no. But all about time-traveling. All the novels in our era are about science and things. We read lots. There isn’t much else to do in the Valley,” the Lybbla ended, a bit sadly.
“Is that all you read?”
“No, we read everything. Technical books on science as well as novels. How disintegrators are made and so on. We’ll tell you how to make weapons for us.”
“Thanks. That sort of literature is open to the public?”
“Sure. Why not?”
“I should think it would be dangerous.”
“So should I,” the fat Lybbla said thoughtfully, “but it isn’t somehow.”
Gallegher pondered. “Could you tell me how to make a heat ray, for example?”
“Yes,” was the excited reply, “and then we’d destroy the big cities and capture—”
“I know. Pretty girls and hold them for ransom. Why?”
“We know what’s what,” a Lybbla said shrewdly. “We read books, we do.” He spilled his cup, looked at the puddle of milk, and let his ears droop disconsolately.
The other two Lybblas hastily patted him on the back. “Don’t cry,” the biggest one urged.
“I gotta,” the Lybbla said. “It’s in the books.”
“You have it backward. You don’t cry over spilt milk.”
“Do. Will,” said the recalcitrant Lybbla, and began to weep.
Gallegher brought him more milk. “About this heat ray,” he said. “Just how—”
“Simple,” the fat Lybbla said, and explained.
It was simple. Grandpa didn’t get it, of course, but he watched interestedly as Gallegher went to work. Within half an hour the job was completed. It was a heat ray, too. It burned a hole through a closet door.
“Whew!” Gallegher breathed, watching smoke rise from the charred wood. “That’s something!” He examined the small metal cylinder in his hand.
“It kills people, too,” the fat Lybbla murmured. “Like the man in the back yard.”
“Yes, it— What? The man in—”
“The back yard. We sat on him for a while, but he got cold after a bit. There’s a hole burned through his chest.”
“You did it,” Gallegher accused, gulping.
“No. He came out of time, too, I expect. There was a heat-ray hole in him.”
“Who…who was he?”
“Never saw him before in my life,” the fat Lybbla said, losing interest. “I want more milk.” He leaped to the bench top and peered through the window at the towers of Manhattan’s skyline. “Wheeee! The world is ours!”
The doorbell sang. Gallegher, a little pale said, “Grandpa, see what it is. Send him away in any case. Probably a bill collector. They’re used to being turned away. Oh, Lord! I’ve never committed a murder before—”
“I have,” Grandpa murmured, departing. He did not clarify the statement.
Gallegher went into the back yard, accompanied by the scuttling small figures of the Lybblas. The worst had happened. In the middle of the rose garden lay a dead body. It was the corpse of a man, bearded and ancient, quite bald, and wearing garments made, apparently of flexible, tinted cellophane. Through his tunic and chest was the distinctive hole burned by a heat-ray projector.
“He looks familiar, somehow,” Gallegher decided. “Dunno why. Was he dead when he came out of time?”
“Dead but warm,” one of the Lybblas said. “That was nice.”
I’d often wondered why none of Kuttner’s books seemed to be in print.
The Galloway Gallagher stories are highly recommended.
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