The Dark World by Henry Kuttner, a forgotten master

Books like The Dark World remind me why I love fantasy/sci-fi so much in the first place.  Here I’ve spent the better part of two decades reading every great author I can get my hands on, and not only are there new ones coming out constantly, there are still gems from years ago I have yet to read.

In this case I have Planet Stories to thank.  It would seem they are going back to a lot of the classics and republishing them, updating the cover art and adding new introductions and so forth.  (This particular one ships with an intro by Piers Anthony, and rave reviews from Ray Bradbury)

PZO8005-Cover.indd

The book itself isn’t particularly long, this edition clocking in at just under 140 pages, a rare thing nowadays when fantasy books tend from the verbose (Terry Goodkind) to the obscenely long. (Robert Jordan)  This isn’t to say I don’t enjoy long novels, but a shorter (yet complete) book is a nice thing too.

The story itself is fascinating, concerned with an alternate world that diverged from our at some crucial point in the past.  Edward Bond is a WWII pilot in our world (the book was published in 1946 btw) who has strange dreams and thoughts.  Without giving too much away we find out that his double in the “Dark World” is an evil megalomaniacal wizard on the verge of dominating the whole country, perhaps even the whole world.  The book keeps you guessing, has a great mini-twist ending, and has a very different approach to the narration. (Which I am not going to spoil)

What I like most about the book is that it isn’t straight fantasy (despite the inclusion of wolf-men and wizards) or sci-fi.  In that regard I’m actually glad I didn’t read this sooner.  My own writing seeks to bring science to fantasy, something I was able to work up to without any outside (book/author) influences, and this certainly would have influenced me.

Anyway, you should definitely check this one out, especially since you won’t have to devote a large amount of time to finish it.  In the meantime I’ll be looking for more of Kuttner’s work and let you know if it is as good as this one.

[tags]Fantasy, Harry Kuttner, The Dark World[/tags]

4 thoughts on “The Dark World by Henry Kuttner, a forgotten master

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  1. This is a great article! Thanks for the heads-up! Some of the older novels are not surpassed by the newer novels. This is not to say that the newer books are good, there is just a mystique about the early science fiction novels. Check out my first and recently released novel, Long Journey to Rneadal. This exciting tale is a romantic action adventure in space and is more about the characters than the technology.

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  2. I’ve not read Valley of the Flame, so I can’t really say. The Last Mimzy was based on one of his stories, originally called Mimsy were the Borogoves, written by Kuttner and his wife C.L. Moore under the name Lewis Padgett. I know at least three of his stories were made into movies, but it is hard keeping track as he wrote under no less than seventeen pseudonyms, in addition to his real name. The biggest thing he was involved in people would know about is certainly The Cthulhu Mythos, writing five stories for it and contributing some of the lesser known gods.

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