ffb: Terror in the House – The Early Kuttner Volume One

this is the 125th in my series of forgotten or seldom read books

Terror in the House – The Early Kuttner Volume One by Henry Kuttner, edited by Stephen Haffner, preface by Richard Matheson, Haffner Press 2010 hardcover, cover Art by  – ISBN-13 9781893887466, 712-page Hardcover. Listed by the publisher as out of print, except for the (pricey) deluxe edition, but copies can be found in the secondary market. I chose this Friday Forgotten Book in honor of Halloween.

Terror in the House cvrFrom the Haffner Press website:

“Before his marriage to (and subsequent collaborations with) Catherine L. Moore, Henry Kuttner was a frequent contributor to the pulp magazines that specialized in the weird, supernatural, horror, and science fiction genre. Beginning in 1936, with the minor classic “The Graveyard Rats,” Kuttner launched a steady stream of short stories aimed at Weird Tales, Mystery Tales, Thrilling Wonder Stories, and others.

Writing for Weird Tales brought Kuttner into direct correspondence with that magazine’s premier contributor, H. P. Lovecraft. Kuttner set several stories in Lovecraft’s “Cthulhu Mythos” and several are presented in Terror in the House including: “The Secret of Kralitz,” “The Eater of Souls,” “The Salem Horror,” The Jest of Droom-Avista,” “The Frog,” “The Invaders,” and “The Bells of Horror.”

Given the short lengths of Kuttner’s stories, he had to be prolific and he contributed reams of copy to the weird-menace (a sub-genre of horror where a seemingly supernatural plot is resolved with a pedestrian ending) pulps, Thrilling Mystery and Spice Mystery. It was his specialization for “spicy” or sexed-up stories that led Kuttner to write most (two stories and one novelette) of the first issue of Marvel Science Stories, arguably the first “spicy” science fiction pulp.”

Terror in the House is the first volume in a set collecting many of Kuttner’s earliest stories, most of which have never been reprinted. There is a lot in this thick book, and not all of it is Kuttner’s best work. If you’re like me it will take you a while to dip into it now and then until you’re finished, but you’ll enjoy it.

Table of Contents:

Preface by Richard Matheson Introduction by Garyn G. Roberts, Ph.D.
The Graveyard Rats, Weird Tales, Mar ’36
Bamboo Death, Thrilling Mystery, Jun ’36
The Devil Rides, Thrilling Mystery, Sep ’36
The Secret of Kralitz, Weird Tales, Oct ’36
Power of the Snake, Thrilling Mystery, Nov ’36
Coffins for Six, Thrilling Mystery, Dec ’36
It Walks by Night, Weird Tales, Dec ’36
Laughter of the Dead, Thrilling Mystery, Dec ’36
The Eater of Souls, Weird Tales, Jan ’37
Terror in the House, Thrilling Mystery, Jan ’37
The Faceless Fiend, Thrilling Mystery, Jan ’37
The Dweller in the Tomb, Thrilling Mystery, Feb ’37
I, the Vampire, Weird Tales, Feb ’37
Nightmare Woman, Thrilling Mystery, Mar ’37
The Salem Horror, Weird Tales, May ’37
My Brother, The Ghoul, Thrilling Mystery, Jun ’37
I Am the Wolf, Thrilling Mystery, Jul ’37
The Jest of Droom-Avista, Weird Tales, Aug ’37
Four Frightful Men, Thrilling Mystery, Sep ’37
When the Earth Lived, Thrilling Wonder Stories, Oct ’37
Terror on the Stage, Thrilling Mystery, Sep ’37
Lord of the Lions, Thrilling Mystery, Nov ’37
The Bloodless Peril, Thrilling Wonder Stories, Dec ’37
Invasion from the Fourth Dimension, Thrilling Mystery, Jan ’38
Messer Orsini’s Hands, Spicy Mystery, Jan ’38
Worlds’ End, Weird Tales, Feb ’38
The Graveyard Curse, Spicy Mystery, Mar ’38
The Unresting Dead, Thrilling Mystery, Mar ’38
The Shadow on the Screen, Weird Tales, Mar ’38

~  ~  ~  ~  ~

The rest of the Friday Forgotten Book posts this week
are over on In Reference to Murder, B.V. Lawson’s website.

About Rick Robinson

Enjoying life in Portland, OR
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8 Responses to ffb: Terror in the House – The Early Kuttner Volume One

  1. I love Kuttner and Moore’s work but it’s been ages since I revisited – I must have some of these spread in the 15 or so paperback collections of their I have – much check agaon – thanks for this look at his early work. I must do the same!

  2. Jeff Meyerson says:

    Nice looking collection. I haven’t read a lot of Kuttner but enjoyed those I have read.

  3. Bill Crider says:

    I have this one and while some of the stories aren’t really his best, they’re all fun.

  4. I’m with Bill: THE EARLY KUTTNER VOL. 1 is good but not great. This book is a must-buy for Kuttner fans. When I read this book I kept thinking how good Kuttner could have been had he not died so young. The same goes for C.M. Kornbluth.

  5. Todd Mason says:

    Well, how good Kornbluth, Kuttner and Moore were, anyway…such a pity Moore gave it up after her husband’s death. Meanwhile, early Kuttner for WEIRD TALES and even for STRANGE STORIES (where he wrote large chunks of the first issue, some in collaboration with Robert Bloch) is simply even at its most pedestrian going to be better than “weird-menace” or “shudder” pulping…as game as I try to be about such stuff, even the likes of Kuttner or Hugh Cave were intentionally writing at their worst for such markets, much as the writers of the 1950s were doing for “men’s sweat” magazines…with the rare exception of an Avram Davidson who would use them as a market for the historical articles he wanted to write anyway (and the likes of Bruce Jay Friedman at those magazines would cheerfully sign off on these nuggets of scholarship amid the trash they otherwise published). Shudder, too, was at times as Spicy as the Spicy titles, in its sadistic way.

  6. Kuttner has never been a mainstay for me but I do always enjoy his stuff.

  7. Richard says:

    Todd, I’m not sure Kuttner and the others were “intentionally writing at their worst” so much as writing as fast and loose as they could to crank out stories and sell words. Still, mediocre Kuttner, Kornbluth or Moore is better than the best of a lot of the contributors of the day. With this many stories in a collection, it’s easy to skim past the less interesting ones. I had fun reading it.

  8. Kelly says:

    Cool collection. Looks worth hunting down.

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