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H P Lovecraft Lovecraft, the Cthulhu Mythos, and writers who continued the tradition.

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Old 16th March 2010, 07:49 AM   #16 (permalink)
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Re: Henry Kuttner's influence on a HPL story?

Mimsey Were the Borogoves is indeed a masterpiece of a story - one of the few stories I've read that come close to a real evocation of how completely alien our descendants' mental world might be to our own, and a great story on a number of other levels as well (none of which were captured in the film version). I am also very fond of the Gallagher tales written by Kuttner and Moore, featuring an inventor who invents when drunk and then has to figure out just what he's invented when sober. However, I was not especially impressed by Moore's solo fantasy tales.
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Old 16th March 2010, 08:38 AM   #17 (permalink)
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Re: Henry Kuttner's influence on a HPL story?

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....I was not especially impressed by Moore's solo fantasy tales.
Are you referring to her Jirel Of Jory stories or something else? If you are I agree they're flawed but I still found them to be highly entertaining reads. Overall I probably like them more than her Northwest Smith stories but maybe that's because I'm an S&S fan boy....

I've never read the Gallagher stories before but my Two-Handed Engine collection appears to contain a couple of them. It's interesting you should say that these tales were written by the two of them as I've seen references where both De Camp and Moore appear to have stated that Kuttner in fact wrote these himself but I've no idea if that's actually true or not??

I can also recommend Moore's early story Shambleau to you. You should also really try to get hold of the novella Vintage Seasons too if you haven't already, it's an unequivocal masterpiece like "Mimsey" IMO.
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Old 16th March 2010, 12:26 PM   #18 (permalink)
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Re: Henry Kuttner's influence on a HPL story?

The two Sword and Sorcery stories that Lovecraft read and apparently liked were "The Shadow Kingdom" and "The Mirrors of Tuzun Thune" both by Robert Howard. The couple pages of Kuttner that I did read were quite different than Howard's writing style but Kuttner did have something happening with a witch in that one book and now that sounds interesting....
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Old 16th March 2010, 07:17 PM   #19 (permalink)
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Re: Henry Kuttner's influence on a HPL story?

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The two Sword and Sorcery stories that Lovecraft read and apparently liked were "The Shadow Kingdom" and "The Mirrors of Tuzun Thune" both by Robert Howard.
He read the Bran Mak Morn and Conan stories as well.
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Old 16th March 2010, 08:37 PM   #20 (permalink)
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Re: Henry Kuttner's influence on a HPL story?

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The two Sword and Sorcery stories that Lovecraft read and apparently liked were "The Shadow Kingdom" and "The Mirrors of Tuzun Thune" both by Robert Howard. The couple pages of Kuttner that I did read were quite different than Howard's writing style but Kuttner did have something happening with a witch in that one book and now that sounds interesting....
That last sounds as if you're talking about the tale, "The Salem Horror", which Lovecraft saw in a very early version. Not a great tale, but there are some quite good moments there. As for Kuttner's S&S... HPL was dead by the time Kuttner began to do things like his "Elak of Atlantis" tales. These, too, are entertaining, but hardly the best in the field.

No, Kuttner only began to blossom a few years down the line... and when he did, he was one of the best. Together, he and Moore turned out some tales which remain high-water marks in the fields of sf&f 60-70 years later....

J.P.: The Jirel stories are... odd. Often quite elegantly written, with fascinating concepts, imagery, and characters, they nonetheless often feel too studied, too removed, to realize their full impact. Nonetheless, I find them strangely fascinating pieces that deserve a fair amount of their reputation.

I, too, would suggest "Shambleau", if you've not read it. A notable contribution to the weird field....
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Old 16th March 2010, 09:51 PM   #21 (permalink)
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Re: Henry Kuttner's influence on a HPL story?

I'm not sure why these authors didn't write fantasy horror as opposed to sword and sorcery because nothing beats Robert Howard and I like horror the best.
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Old 17th March 2010, 03:11 AM   #22 (permalink)
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Re: Henry Kuttner's influence on a HPL story?

I've never read any of the Northwest Smith stories; I'll look for Shambleau (I probably have it somewhere unread), I've looked it up and it seems like an intriguing little tale with a lot going on under the surface.

The Gallagher stories, when first published, were credited to Lewis Pargett, one of the psuedonyms jointly used by Moore & Kuttner. Moore claimed later on that these particular tales were all Kuttner's. In either case, they are some of the most successful examples of humour in SF I've read outside of Lafferty and, occasionally, Sheckley.

I read a couple of the Jirel stories and while they had all the elements of a good weird/heroic tale, I was probably looking for something a bit more on the lines of Leiber's Fafhrd & Grey Mouser tales, which I'd been reading a lot of when I first sampled Moore's work. More wit and whimsy I suppose, although those are by no means the only virtues of Leiber's excellent stories. With both GOLLUM and J.D. noting certain limitations in these stories but still recommending them, it would be churlish of me not to give them a second try.

Did Lovecraft ever comment on heroic fantasy/s&s and specifically why he himself never felt drawn to try his hand at the genre? Certainly, many in his circle did.
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Old 17th March 2010, 03:44 AM   #23 (permalink)
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Re: Henry Kuttner's influence on a HPL story?

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I've never read any of the Northwest Smith stories; I'll look for Shambleau (I probably have it somewhere unread), I've looked it up and it seems like an intriguing little tale with a lot going on under the surface.

With both GOLLUM and J.D. noting certain limitations in these stories but still recommending them, it would be churlish of me not to give them a second try.
Well I had assumed you owned a copy of the Fantasy Masterwork edn, Black Gods and Scarlet Dreams, which features Moore's Northwest and Jirel stories. It definitely contains Shambleau. My mistake.....

Having said that, that story in particular has been reprinted many times, so you may well locate it in one of your existing publications.

I found Jirel difficult to empathise with because she seems to often make bad or silly decisions and there is a certain sameness to the stories but the prose and at times striking imagery Moore is able to invoke makes up for the central character's and associated plot's obvious flaws. Not great works of literature but significant enough to anyone wishing to better understand the development of the Genre and more specifically S&S.

Here's an interesting link I found by someone who is an obvious fan of the Jirel stories. It provides a history of them as they appeared in WTs and may provide some useful background detail for you to consider when re-analyzing these stories.

Black Gate » Jirel of Joiry: The Mother of Us All

Despite my earlier comments I would also encourage you to try some of her Northwest Smith stories of which Shambleau is probably the best.
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Old 17th March 2010, 06:27 AM   #24 (permalink)
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Re: Henry Kuttner's influence on a HPL story?

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I'm not sure why these authors didn't write fantasy horror as opposed to sword and sorcery because nothing beats Robert Howard and I like horror the best.
But these writers wrote what appealed to them the most, or what they could sell the most of, or a combination of both. And I wouldn't say nothing beats REH. Certainly he is one of the greats of the field, but he was also one of the earliest, and there have been many, many practitioners of this sort of tale since. Some are better writers than Howard; some are better storytellers, perhaps; but most of them are different from Howard. They aren't writing (or attempting to write) the same thing, which makes judging them by the standard of Howard a bit like the old apples and oranges idea.... Certainly Fritz Leiber, to name only one, was a much better writerspeaking in general literary terms than Howard, something with which Howard himself would almost certainly have agreed; in many ways, so was Andre Norton, not to mention Fletcher Pratt, Poul Anderson, Jack Vance, etc......

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Did Lovecraft ever comment on heroic fantasy/s&s and specifically why he himself never felt drawn to try his hand at the genre? Certainly, many in his circle did.
Well, he did make comments about various stories by some of his compatriots in that field, which varied from quite favorable to occasionally cutting. And he certainly admired The Worm Ouroboros immensely, and was quite taken with the early, fragmentary versions of what Leiber was writing about Fafhrd and the Mouser (though he also offered constructive criticism there, as well)....

As for why he never attempted this sort of thing himself... it was quite alien to his entire aesthetic, really, in his own work. "Action-oriented" fiction was something he simply had no interest in writing (the chase in "Shadow Over Innsmouth" to the contrary notwithstanding). He discusses this point at great length in several of his letters, especially with Howard and E. Hoffmann Price....
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Old 17th March 2010, 07:41 AM   #25 (permalink)
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Re: Henry Kuttner's influence on a HPL story?

Those authors are nothing compared to Howard's Hyboria, because there must be at least fourty books on Conan and his adventures, as well as board games, computer games, a large role playing game from the UK -mongoose publishing, etc.

There is no true fantasy horror series though unfortunately other than Ravenloft, but it isn't fully developed and it would have been better to make it more serious, it's for a lower age group, but going back to the books on Hyborea, they are basically the only choice other than a few smaller fantasy series.

Hold on here. I have a book called "Conan: The Rebel" written by Poul Anderson. It is copyrighted in 1980, making it one of the older books in the series.

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Old 17th March 2010, 11:06 AM   #26 (permalink)
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Re: Henry Kuttner's influence on a HPL story?

His writing (Poul Anderson) is probably okay, but he is saying a lot very quickly. With Lovecraft there is a whole bunch of details, and the pace moves along with all that atmospheric support. Now Poul might be better than a writer that uses a lot of dialog, and talks about strange things as if a person is supposed to know what he is talking about, but Poul runs out ahead and it is difficult to follow. Instead of writing two books, he writes it in two chapters.
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Old 17th March 2010, 11:22 AM   #27 (permalink)
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Re: Henry Kuttner's influence on a HPL story?

OTT, but I wanted to put in a word regarding Poul Anderson...I am not sure at what stage of his career Anderson wrote his Conan pastiches, but the impressive thing about him, I thought, was that he kept working at his writing, improving constantly. Some of his later SF such as Harvest Of Stars or the magnificent Boat Of A Thousand Years are such wonderful pieces of literary craftsmanship.
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Old 17th March 2010, 11:43 AM   #28 (permalink)
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Re: Henry Kuttner's influence on a HPL story?

OH...I have Boat Of a Thousand Years but haven't read it yet. Sounds enticing! I'm going to promote it a few more rungs up the TBR ladder right now....
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Old 17th March 2010, 09:16 PM   #29 (permalink)
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Re: Henry Kuttner's influence on a HPL story?

As far as I recall, Poul only wrote the one pastiche... part of that 6-volume set Bantam put out in the late 1970s-early 1980s. This was, in fact, the last of the six volumes, the others being:

Conan the Swordsman (s.c.: L. Sprague de Camp, Lin Carter, Björn Nyberg)
Conan the Liberator (n.: De Camp and Carter)
Conan: The Sword of Skelos (n.: Andrew J. Offutt -- a sequel to his Conan and the Sorcerer and Conan the Mercenary)
Conan: The Road of Kings (n.: Karl Edward Wagner)
Conan and the Spider God (n.: L. Sprague de Camp)

At any rate, I would hardly rank this among Poul's better works, Tinsel. I'd suggest you pick up The Broken Sword, Hrolf Kraki's Saga, The Merman's Children, or Three Hearts and Three Lions for an example of Anderson's s&s.

Incidentally, the number of books about a subject has nothing to do with quality, but merely popularity... and that is a notoriously fickle thing. I am by no means attempting to denigrate Howard's work or its importance in the field (I am a great admirer of the man's work, as a matter of fact; he is one of my favorite writers); merely pointing out that, as a critical criteria such is far too subjective and, generally speaking, ephemeral.

As far as Howard's own work dealing with the Hyborian Age... that has long been outstripped numerically by what has been written by others. Andre Norton's Witch World, however, was -- until her later years -- almost entirely her own, and remains one of the milestones in the s&s genre. The Worm Ouroboros is a classic of the genre, as well as a classic of fantasy as a whole, and influenced a large number of writers (including Fletcher Pratt and Robert E. Howard). Leiber had a much broader range than Howard, was certainly technically more proficient, and far exceeded him in literary ability and polish. And, again, his tales of Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser are among the landmarks of the s&s genre, and a true delight, ranging from the farcical to the extremely grim to the wistfully poetic to the historical fantasy to some of the bawdiest things outside of the Arabian Nights. Pratt is immensely complex and deep; his writing style (especially in The Well of the Unicorn) makes Lovecraft at his densest look almost transparent, and he brought to his writing the knowledge of a professional historian (which he was). Jack Vance also has a wide range of styles, but much of his fantasy is in a quasi-lyrical manner which Howard could only do in small stretches. He also essentially created the "dying earth" type fantasy in its modern form.

Hence... each of these at least matched, often exceeded Howard, in many ways. The point is, though, that Howard was, while very important (and very good), hardly the summa bonum of sword-and-sorcery, let alone fantasy in its broader sense.
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Old 18th March 2010, 01:28 AM   #30 (permalink)
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Re: Henry Kuttner's influence on a HPL story?

Half of the battle for me is finding the author that will keep me interested, and also out of trouble. Some authors whether or not they are the most talented just feel better to read. I have a number of Conan books here and I have some sense of the world that Howard created and I will try again to pick it up. I did read "The Phoenix on the Sword" recently and it went well. Some people are probably very familiar with the world of Conan and they can handle the assortment of Conan titles. The basics should be contained in Howard's short stories. It took me a while to accept them because they are very unique. I don't know any author that writes like he does. Too top it off, he was still smart after he did his boxing matches.

This Sprague character is another Poul. Hopefully he will get better too. There is one more thing that I was going to say and than hold my tounge, and that is that the works of Edgar Allen Poe are cumbersome, or did he just write a small collection? Well nobody talks about them ever.
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