Andrew Liptak has posted an article about C. L. Moore over at Kirkus. The article – like the author herself – is well worth your time.
It’s hard to separate Moore from her collaborations with her first husband, Henry Kuttner. There’s something so appealing about the image of one of them typing away on a story and then getting up for a moment, only to have the other one sit down at the typewriter to continue, that it’s easy to forget that she had already made it as a pulp writer before they met.
She said later that she used her initials not to masquerade as a man, but so that her employers wouldn’t figure out that she was writing on the side. Another wonderful image is of this quiet secretary typing stories for Weird Tales after hours in the balcony that overlooked the bank where she worked.
If those early stories seem a bit overwrought today it’s only because she adapted so well to the Weird Tales house style; so much so that she was admired not just by hopefuls like the young Kuttner but also by the stars of that magazine, H. P. Lovecraft and Robert E. Howard. As time went on and tastes changed she also changed, as you can see in the stories she wrote with Kuttner under their numerous pen names through the 1940s and the early 1950s.
Catherine Moore isn’t quite forgotten; she’s just more forgotten than she ought to be. Her estate (and Kuttner’s) is doing a pretty good job of keeping her work in print. You just need to look for it.
In the meantime, pop over to Kirkus and let Andrew Liptak explain to you why you should.
If you haven’t listened to the Writing Excuses podcast, you should know that it’s not only useful to writers. It is mostly useful to writers. But I think it’s also of interest to readers who’d like to know how stories work.
Okay, fair warning: there’s a lot to be said for not knowing how stories work. The more you understand about the mysterious innards of just about any thing, the harder it is to just sit back and enjoy that thing. You see that a lot if you happen to know people who work in film or television.
But if you’re the kind of person who will read the ingredients on a package of chorizo and still buy it, the Writing Excuses podcast is pretty interesting.
This month kicks off Season Eleven, whose topic is what Mary Robinette Kowal, Brandon Sanderson, Howard Tayler, and Dan Wells are calling “Elemental Genre”.
This isn’t the genre you probably expect. They’re not discussing “Bookshelf Genres” like mystery, romance, science fiction, or fantasy: they’re looking at themes and tropes that work independently of those categories. So, for example, Ant-Man is a superhero movie that’s also a heist film.
There are a gazillion kinds of stories that can be told in any Bookshelf Genre. And inside any one of those gazillion stories you find threads and subplots and themes that play to different sets of expectations: there may be romance within, well, anything; or elements of mystery, or horror, or adventure.
Season Eleven kicks off this week with an introduction to the whole idea. That’d be a swell place to start what looks like a pretty great season.
Doug Ellis recently purchased this painting by Hubert Rogers for the cover of Astounding magazine in April of 1941, and he’s not only shared that with us over at Black Gate but provided several bits of correspondence between the artist and two of the authors he illustrated.
The letters – from L. Sprague deCamp and Robert Heinlein – discuss the paintings and characterizations and, in deCamp’s case, even the picture that one of these would displace on his wall. (It’s a nice Edd Cartier, also shown in the article, and it was only being replaced because it might scare the bejeezus out of the littlest deCamp once he’d figured out what it was.)
Altogether, some interesting insights into the relationships between the authors and at least one of their illustrators. (Thanks to File770 for the link!)
Also, it’s about time that starry briefs made a fashion comeback.
I ran across a post at File770.com featuring the third volume of a collection of stories eligible for the 1941 Retro Hugo Awards at next year’s Worldcon. The collection is an ongoing project by File770 user von Dimpleheimer.
Since the third volume is a big batch of stories by Henry Kuttner and Ray Cummings I followed the link and grabbed a copy, only to discover that von Dimpleheimer had made the eBook cover with my very own Pulp-O-Mizer. This put a smile all over my face. Like, actually, all over my face.
So I went back and downloaded the first two volumes and, sure enough, they had also been Pulp-O-Mized. This may be my very favorite use of the Pulp-O-Mizer to date.
But I started out by looking for the stories, and of course I found them, too. Now, I’m a big believer in the Henry Kuttner/C.L. Moore cooperative, but I don’t think I’ve read Cummings before. I’m having a great time correcting that oversight.
There’s a lot of variety in the stories. This is partly due to the different magazines they were written for – Cummings’ WeirdTalesian stories for the horror magazines are entirely different from his SF and humorous pieces. And you also have to factor in the astonishing rate at which these pulp writers ground out their work. Every story in this volume was written in the year 1940: there are twenty-three by Kuttner, and thirty by Cummings. That’s not their whole output; that’s just what’s included here. These writers were just pounding those words out.
There are places where this shows, of course, but Cummings has already taken a place on my virtual humor shelf next to Kuttner and Fredric Brown. That’s largely on the strength of one story, World Upside Down, but I’m sure there will be more. (The Vanishing Men, while it’s not about time travel, underscores one problem with time travel that’s always overlooked.)
Want to find out for yourself? You can get the download links for Volume One here; for Volume Two, here; and for Volume Three, here.
On December 11 an extensive collection of drawings, watercolor roughs, and paintings by Frank Frazetta will be going on auction through Profiles in History. The pieces – which also include a large number of works by Hannes Bok, Roy Krenkel, Al Williamson, Hal Foster, and others – was previously available for private viewing on the East Coast. The West Coast previews will run through the fourth of December.
Odds are that neither you nor I is going to be bidding on any of these. But I (and possibly you) can be quite excited about the auction’s catalog. You can download the PDF version of the catalog from this page. I did, and I lost a whole lot of time this morning as a result.
The man who assembled this incredible collection is Dave Winiewicz. Over the years he got to know Frazetta and many of his contemporaries, as you can easily see from the catalog notes.
“Incredible” isn’t hyperbole. The collection, which is heavy on drawings, represents almost every phase of the artist’s career.
The fact that so much of this work is in pencil or ink is just fine by me. When I rediscovered Frazetta it was his ink work that I found I admired the most. Those deft lines, with their inevitable certainty, present the form and lighting in the scenes beautifully while each of them has an essential prettiness and grace that in no way interferes with the shapes they communicate. At its best, it’s pure mastery.
Included in the auction are two pens that the artist liked so well that he stored them away to use again… only to forget about them. Nice! But surprising, to me, since I thought he inked exclusively with brushes.