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  • Michael Krakovskiy 3:17 pm on April 13, 2007 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Andre Norton, Bob Heinlein, C.L.Moore, Clifford D. Simak, Clifford Simak, , , Douglas Adams, H. G. Wells, , , , , Jules Verne, , , , , , , Philip K. Dick, , , Stanislaw Lem, , , William Jenkins   

    Kicking The Atomic Space Rocket Bucket 

    Yesterday, while having tea with my wife, I mentioned the uneasy feeling that I was getting over not only how many science fiction writers that influenced the way I think have passed away already, but also of how many were dying lately. I started making a list of dead sci-fi writers (which I enhanced through Wikipedia while writing this post).

    Jules Verne died in ’05. Karel Capek died in ’38. H. G. Wells died in ’46. H. P. Lovecraft died of cancer in ’47. Henry Kuttner went to shovel snow off of his driveway in Jersey and died of a heart attack in ’58. Paul Linebarger died in 66. Hugo Gernsback died in 67. William Jenkins died in ’75.Philip K. Dick stroked-out in ’82. Kuttner’s wife, C. L. Moore died in ’87, of Alzheimer’s. Cyril Kornbluth died the same year. Bob Heinlein died in ’88. So did Clifford Simak. Isaac Asimov died in ’92. As it turns out, of AIDS that he contracted from a blood transfusion. Douglas Adams was working out and had a heart attack in 01. Robert Sheckley went to visit Ukraine, fell ill and later died in a hospital in ’05. Andre Norton died in ’05.Stanislaw Lem died in ’06, also of heart-related problems.

    Well, at least Kurt Vonnegut is still alive – said my wife. Yeah, but he’s pretty young, I said. Little did we know that he was already gone

    It seems that I received a package in the mail from him just recently, although it was already 9 years ago.

    Theodore Sturgeon, the real Kilgore Trout died in ’85.

    The era’s not over yet. As I went through Wikipedia’s list of important sci-fi writers I was surprised to see so many classics born in the 20s and 30s to be still writing.

    Also, three out of six Beatles are still with us.

     
  • Michael Krakovskiy 1:21 pm on October 2, 2003 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Agatha Christie, And Then There Were None, , , C.L.Moore, Canadian Broadcast Standards Council, CFMT-TV, Charles Osborne, co-author, Desyat Negrityat, Gweilo, , , Nigger, Regional Council, Rhyme, Toronto, ,   

    And Then There Were None 

    I have been hunting for Henry Kuttner’s autograph for a very long time. Henry Kuttner is one of my favorite sci-fi writers of all time (see my article about Kuttner). Kuttner died early and his signatures are very rare, fetching upward of $500. I keep a request for a book signed by Kuttner in hope that some ignorant bookseller might sell a signed copy cheaply. A few days ago abebooks wishlist emailed me a really weird item:

    “henry kuttner
    His personal baby book
    his very first book starts on april 7th 1915 and includes his first photograph, mother’s as well as his nurses’ signature, and documents his first 3 words (please nobody take offense) nigger, nigger, nigger. It was in the possesion of author C.L. Moore but now it could be y
    ISBN:
    Bookseller Inventory #22224
    Price: US$ 2500.00 “

    I hope nothing bad happened to Kuttner’s wife and co-author, C.L. Moore. Why would a thing like that end up on the market?

    Now, that’s a rather weird choice of first words for a baby. But the year being 1915 and everything, my guess is that little Henry must have been rather fond of the nursery rhyme that Agatha Christie used for her whodunit masterwork. Here’s a write-up from Rosetta Books, and eBook publisher:

    .. A note about the title — Christie originally called the novel Ten Little Niggers, a reference to an old nursery rhyme that she places, framed, in the guest rooms of the ten characters in the story. Each dies in the manner described in a verse of the sing-song rhyme — e.g., “Ten little nigger boys went out to dine; One choked his little self and then there nine.” The rhyme ends with the words, “… and then there were none.” The offensive word, which carries an extra dimension of ugliness in American culture, was replaced with “Indians” for American publication. Ironically, “Indian” is now also a politically incorrect term, so the novel has officially been retitled And Then There None. As Charles Osborne points out in his delightful and indispensable study The Life and Crimes of Agatha Christie, the shift in the old American title creates a bit of confusion. For Americans think it refers to another nursery rhyme that begins, “One little, two little, three little Indians …” The nature of the original title reflects the time in which the novel it was written and the world in which Christie became an adult and a writer, one shaped largely by the British Empire and the racist thinking of the past. The cosmetic change of title to And Then There Were None is merely that, however. It erases a troubling shadow from an extraordinary, hugely entertaining achievement.

    Some somewhat related links:

    Straight Dope : In whodunits, it’s “the butler did it.” Who did it first?

    A complaint to Canadian Broadcast Standards Council :

    This case is, in the experience of the CBSC, unique; it marks the first occasion on which a Regional Council has been asked to review the title, as opposed to the content, of a television program. The broadcast in question is a cooking show entitled Gwai Lo Cooking which is aired by CFMT-TV (Toronto). The source of the complaint is the historic Cantonese expression “gwai lo” which is used as a material component of the show’s title. In its etymological background, “gwai lo” translates as “foreign devil” or “ghostly fellow” and it continues to be used by some Chinese to refer to “pale-skinned” Westerners. In the context of the title in question, “gwai lo” refers to the show’s host, who, although of Caucasian, rather than Oriental, much less Chinese, descent, speaks Cantonese and is able to offer North Amercian and European cooking recipes to the Cantonese-speaking Chinese Canadian community. …

     
  • Michael Krakovskiy 12:23 pm on July 13, 2002 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: A Gnome There Was, , bad science fiction writer, C.L.Moore, Catherine Lucille Moore, Ex Machina, , Gallagher, , Howard Phillips Lovecraft, , John Paul II, Lewis Padgett, , Mimsy Were the Borogoves, Pulp magazine, , Raymond Douglas Bradbury, Robots Have No Tails, , The Twonky, The World is Mine   

    Best Sci-fi You Haven’t Read Part II or Yes, Virginia There Is Synergy 

    Despite what marketing droids and sleazy investment gurus may have lead you to believe, there is such a thing as synergy. Yes, 1 + 1 is sometimes equal to 100. And Henry Kuttner and his wife C.L.Moore are a case in point.

    Henry Kuttner started out a bad science fiction writer. A real stinker. He had some cool friends though. Howard Phillips Lovecraft was one, Raymond Douglas Bradbury was another. At first he wrote a whole bunch of Lovecraftian tales. Not really bad ones, but completely and thoroughly copying Lovecraft’s style, settings and characters. Well, not many good things come out of copying. Then he started writing and getting in print bad pulp sci-fi and fantasy stories. Yech.

    Catherine Lucille Moore also wrote crappy fantasy stories. Nothing really worth mentioning. Pulp, dreck.

    And then they met each other and got married. That’s where the synergy effect came into play. One after another they started publishing stories of absolute brilliance. Real classics. “The Twonky”, “Mimsy Were the Borogoves”, “Nothing but Gingerbread Left” – some of the best short sci-fi stories ever written. An then the “Gallagher” series and “Hogbens” series. Most of these stories were written under pseudonym “Lewis Padgett”, and for a long time nobody could believe that that was really Henry Kuttner and C.L. Moore. Some bizarre rumors about the true identity of the author of these stores still float around on the Usenet.

    What got me hooked on Kuttner/Moore was a story called “The Proud Robot”. It was about an alcoholic inventor by the name of Galloway. While drunk, he made himself a robot, but then could not figure out what the robot’s purpose was. That became my favorite short sci-fi story of all times. What I didn’t know, there were 4 more stories in the series: “Gallagher Plus”, “The World is Mine”, “Ex Machina” and “Time Locker”. They were collected in a book called “Robots Have No Tails”, of which there were only two editions. The first one (Gnome hardcover), became exceedingly rare (and expensive I might add): you see, in every story Galloway’s alcoholic subconsiousnes was making trouble for sober Galloway. An alcoholic protagonist was not politically correct, and thus the book suffered very slow library sales.

    I’ve learned two interesting things from less rare second edition (Lancer paperback). The book got it’s name because when Kuttner was asked about the title, he said something to the effect that he did not care even if it was called “Robots Have No Tails”. The second is that Kuttner made a mistake: he called the protagonist Galloway in one story and Gallagher in another. When confronted by C.L. Moore, he corrected the mistake, explaining in another story that Galloway is the first name, and Gallagher is the family name.

    This is probably the only place on the internet, where you can see a scan of the cover of the first edition of “Robots Have No Tails”

    I would recommend starting with a compilation of Kuttner’s short stories, like this “Best Of..” edition with a funny cover. The alien looks very much like John Paul II :)

    My edition is signed:

    Henry Kuttner died young, at the height of his career. His health was damaged in the battlefields of WWII. The books he wrote with his wife are hard to find, but they are most definitely worth the effort and expense needed to obtain them. http://www.abebooks.com is probably the best place to find them.

     
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