Posts Tagged ‘Pulps’

Henry Kuttner's <i>The Dark World</i>

Henry Kuttner's The Dark World

Jared over at Troll in the Corner has just posted an excellent review of the Planet Stories edition of Henry Kuttner’s science-fantasy classic The Dark World. In doing so he manages to encapsulate the entire point of the reprints in the Planet Stories line so far:

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.

Major chain bookstores took a pretty paltry order for The Dark World, I’m sorry to say, so if you haven’t had a chance to pick up this recent release yet, I suggest ordering directly from the source at Paizo.com.

Thanks for the review, Jared! And thanks to all of you who have given Henry Kuttner a shot, either in our earlier releases such as Elak of Atlantis or in our brand new release, Robots Have No Tails.


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PZO8005-Cover.inddWe’ve just implemented some changes to the Planet Stories imprint and to Planet Stories subscriptions that we believe will significantly increase the quality of the books in general and enhance the value of your subscription.

Starting with June’s Robots Have No Tails, by Henry Kuttner, Planet Stories subscribers will enjoy a 30% discount on new Planet Stories volumes (up from 20%). Additionally, subscribers will be able to order older Planet Stories books at a substantial 15% discount off the cover price as an added benefit of subscribing. We hope this new discount structure makes it easier for collectors to pick up volumes they may have missed from earlier in our series.

PZO8021TOC_90Also in June, Planet Stories will shift to a roughly bimonthly publication schedule, with six volumes scheduled per year into the future. We’re worried we may be producing Planet Stories books faster than subscribers are able to read them, so we want to slow things down a bit and give each book a chance to make a strong impact on the marketplace and in the minds of our faithful readers. We hope to increase the frequency in the future, but doing so will require significantly more subscribers than we have now and better penetration into local and national bookstores. We believe these changes will come with time, and reducing the frequency in the meantime gives us an opportunity to ensure that Planet Stories has the best possible foundation in the years to come during a very challenging period for the book publishing industry.

PZO8021p50-51_180The biggest change to the line will become apparent when we send out Robots Have No Tails in the upcoming weeks: We’ve completely revised the Planet Stories format to pack in more story for your buck and to include illustrations that harken back to the pulp era from which many of our stories are drawn. In the case of this summer’s The Ship of Ishtar, by A. Merritt, we’ve even negotiated rights to publish illustrations by noted pulp illustrator (and the best man at the wedding of C. L. Moore and Henry Kuttner) VIRGIL FINLAY!

Those of you familiar with Finlay’s marvelous work will no doubt be jumping up and down with excitement. Those of you who have not encountered his work are in for a real treat. Other Planet Stories volumes will contain interior illustrations (many original to the Planet Stories line) as well, and we hope to set a new standard of design excellence with the series. We’ve posted sample page layouts on the Robots Have No Tails product page to give you a taste of what’s in store in the very near future.

PZO8005-Cover.inddThe very best way that you can help to ensure a bright future for Planet Stories is to subscribe, and to evangelize the line to your science fiction and fantasy-reading friends. We hope to double the number of Planet Stories subscribers in the next year, and we’re going to need all the help you can provide in order to achieve that goal.

We’re more excited about the Planet Stories line than we’ve ever been. In many ways, we’re finally publishing these stories in a format that does them justice and best matches our original plans for the line. We hope you love what’s in store, and that you continue to support Planet Stories.

It means the (strange adventures on other) worlds to us.


Erik Mona
Paizo Publishing, LLC

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Northwest of EarthAuthor and noted sf critic Paul Kincaid has just posted a very thoughtful review of C. L. Moore’s Northwest of Earth: The Complete Northwest Smith, one of the most popular Planet Stories releases to date, to SFSite.com. Northwest of Earth collects all of Moore’s seminal Northwest Smith stories together in one volume for the very first time, from the debut story that launched Moore’s career in 1933 (“Shambleau”) to her final story featuring the outlaw of the spaceways in 1957 (“Song in a Minor Key”).

Kincaid summarizes Northwest Smith this way: “His natural habitat is the cheap bars, grungy hotels and dangerous alleyways of port towns on Mars and Venus. But this futuristic backwoods is only the stepping-off point for wild journeys of the imagination into exotic and erotic realms that always somehow open out from our base reality. From such dark and dusty starting points, the stories explode into colour; everything in these other realms is in scarlet or blue, purple or gold. Always bold primary colours, there are no tints, shades or pastels to be seen, for these are bold primary adventures.”

I was particularly struck by Kincaid’s observation regarding the use of doorways and passages in the Northwest Smith stories. Indeed, when we first meet the character he is standing in a dusty Martian doorway, and many of his adventures take place in otherworldly realms accessed through portals of various kinds. In this way Smith shares many similarities with Moore’s other prominent character, the Dark Ages swordswoman Jirel of Joiry, whose seductive fantasies are collected in the Planet Stories edition Black God’s Kiss.

Unlike Jirel, who can be read as perhaps the first feminist sword & sorcery protagonist, Northwest Smith has a somewhat more complicated approach to sexual politics. The women he encounters are usually tied up with danger and even death, and while the Smith stories represent some of the most sensually described tales of the pulp era, there is a complex morality play going on that makes Moore’s stories more fascinating because they were written by a woman.

As Kincaid puts it, “Sex, itself a ‘nameless’ subject in the popular literature of the relatively straitlaced 1930s, was a fairly common subtext of those encounters with the mysterious that were related in the typical weird tale, and a suggestion of the erotic must have been a selling point in colourful popular magazines. But the sexual aspect of Moore’s Northwest Smith stories is hardly a subtext, the imagery is too potent, too central, too omnipresent for that. These are stories in which sex is death, beauty is a commodity independent of the person, and women are a danger and must be killed.”


Illustration by Jean-Claude Forest.

Illustration by Jean-Claude Forest.

I think the latter observation is layering it on a bit thick, but a certain sensuality and sense of sexual danger pervades the Northwest Smith stories, which for me makes them all the more fascinating. Plus there’s heat guns and ruined cities and monsters and stuff, threads of pulp adventure that give the stories life and excitement beyond their considerable subtext.


You can learn more about reviewer Paul Kincaid by visiting his website. Copies of Northwest of Earth: The Complete Northwest Smith are available direct from the publisher at paizo.com.

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 By 1955 I had exhausted all of the books in the Bellaire, Texas library on earthquakes, volcanoes, and dinosaurs. It was a sad day when I finished the last Roy Chapman Andrews book. So I began looking around for something else to read and came across a book called Danger, Dinosaurs! By Richard Marsten. Well, it had dinosaurs in the title, so what the heck. After all, I had whined, kicked, cried, and eventually badgered my parents into taking me to see the film Blackboard Jungle, certain that Tarzan had to be in any movie with “Jungle” in the title. Was I ever disappointed. But how can a book called Danger, Dinosaur! go wrong? And I read it, and it was great. The protagonist goes on a tour back in time to hunt dinosaurs. The problem was, the group got stranded, and the leader of the hunt was killed, and if you die before you were born, you never existed.


Holy cow! This stuff was great. Well, I looked around and found The Wonderful Flight to the Mushroom Planet by Eleanor Cameron. Zowie this stuff was good. And then I went on to Asimov and Heinlein and all the wonders of science fiction, with the occasional fantasy thrown in, like Three Hearts and Three Lions.


There wasn’t much fantasy in those days, actually, not much until Donald Wolheim pirated LoTR. I was a teen-ager by then and found a copy of The Fellowship of the Ring in a little mom and pop bookstore one day on my way home from my paper route. So I bought it, but didn’t read it. I hated reading book 1 of anything. Once I had accumulated all three of the books I read them non-stop. I still remember lying on the couch with my mother yelling, “Bud (that was my nickname), get off of that &%$@# couch and go do something!” To get my attention, Mother sometimes displayed the vocabulary of a sailor. Eighteen hours, I think, it took me 18 hours to read LoTR one weekend.


About that same time I discovered Andre Norton’s Key Out of Time in the High School library, and it went on and on…in those days there was so little published it was easy to read everything that came out every month and still have time to catch up on old stuff at the library. I never discovered the pulps. I don’t know why. Maybe when I saw them I didn’t have any money, or what I had I spent on comics. Ha! Robert Silverberg told me he once had a quarter and had to chose between buying a pack of cigarettes or a copy of Galaxy magazine. He chose Galaxy. Good choice!


It was also about that time that I discovered Analog magazine and that was the first magazine to which I subscribed. John Campbell and his corral of writers—man was that a sight for sore eyes every month—in my mail box. And I loved the reviews by P. Schuyler Miller. In Fort Worth, Texas it was hard to tell what new books were out, much less find them.


Which brings us to the cover of Planet Stories here. This Alfred Coppel story led to his novel The Rebel of Rhada which he wrote under the pen name of Robert Cham Gilman. Miller reviewed the book so I had to have it, but he also mentioned that this was a pen name for a famous SF writer. “Who,” I wondered? Asimov? Heinlein? Well, I finally found out, but being deprived of the nutritional goodness of Planet Stories during my formative years, I was not enlightened. Alfred Coppel?


So, I have watched the field grow and shrink over the past 55 years pulsing like…well, like a pulsar. SF shrinks to almost nothing and fantasy grows, threatening to absorb everything—then it reaches a limit of some sort—some invisible consumer-driven wall—and now SF is growing again with John Scalzi and Robert Charles Wilson and Michael Flynn and Ben Bova (who has been there all along) and Richard K. Morgan and there’s lots of good stuff to read.


And that’s what this blog is about—good stuff to read, old and new, with a slight lean toward the pulps, hence the blog name. But anything science fictional or fantastic is likely to show up here. Comments and guest blogs appreciated. “Gort…” now where did I leave that automaton?



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