Kuttner’s Cosmos

Posted by on December 14th, 2009 at 1:00 PM

Against his dark galaxy of demons and imps, Kuttner posed an assemblage of shrewdsters. No Jabez Stones, or even Faustuses, need apply. In ‘Threshhold,”, a demon is summoned by a psychologist, who seeks a fateful riddle’s answer by plying the critter with word games. In “The Devil We Know”‘ the demon is itself haunted by a dire, unseen presence.

But Kuttner’s earliest and longest-lived regular-Joe protagonist was probably a lumpen prole Broadwayite named Pete Manx. A grubby, pragmatic Damon Runyonite, Pete (sometimes reluctantly) embarked on time-traveling errands: these, at the behest of his scientist- buddy, inauspiciously named “Dr. Mayhem.” The era -hopping errands were sheer fun: aimed at the juvenile readers of Hugo Gernsback’s pulp sci-fi magazines. In Pete’s cheerful, lowbrow pragmatism, Kuttner seems to have been preparing for the darker opportunists in stories like “Under Your Spell” or “Compliments of the Author.” But the folklorish pattern, with color and texture imparted by Kuttner’s unshowy sophistication, are the same. The evolution, over decades, that he and Moore achieved in fantasy fiction so-called, assures them a modest yet cherished place of honor.

Be Sociable, Share!

Pages: 1 2 3 4

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

One Response to “Kuttner’s Cosmos”

  1. Bhob says:

    One hardly sees Thorne Smith mentioned any more except when the film of Topper plays on television. But he was one of the great humorists of the 20th Century.

    Bhob @ Potrzebie: http://potrzebie.blogspot.com