As a fan of the classic Science Fiction and Fantasy pulp magazines (exemplified by my thrill to be involved here at Amazing Stories), I find myself a bit giddy whenever I stumble upon an old edition. But as the value of these (both collectable AND literary) increases over time, getting your hands on one you can own and put in your personal collection is becoming a rarity.
That giddy feeling hit me last weekend at the local library. A pencil thin book squeezed between a couple thick hardbacks caught my eye. “Robots Have No Tails” by Henry Kuttner. Huh? Who and what is this? Listed with the print date of May 2009 and issue number 21, I’ve obviously been out of the loop on this one. Am I embarrassed that I’ve never heard of this? Yes. Will I get a bunch of feedback telling me what I don’t know about it? I sure hope so.
What I did find was an impressively put together anthology. With a big block logo “Planet Stories” at the top of the cover, the construction is as sturdy as it is beautiful. More of a trade paperback than a “periodical” type magazine, Planet Stories is an series imprint by Paizo Publishing featuring many pulp classics. I don’t know if this publication has any correlation with the old magazine baring the same name during the late thirties into the mid fifties (looking for any insight on this from the fandom). It does however have the tagline “The Universe of Future Centuries” along the top, a little different from the older namesake which claimed “Strange Adventures on Other Worlds” (note that some of the older issues do not have any tag line at all).
The stories in this particular anthology are all by Henry Kuttner, an American writer of many novels and short stories. Each of the contributions to this issue was originally published under the author’s pseudonym Lewis Padgett. Its interesting to note that though all of these stories involve the alcoholic scientist character Galloway Gallegher (a name derived from an editing error and a blasé attempt to correct the mistake), the series was interrupted by Kuttner’s stint in the army. The first four stories were written in 1942 while the final entry wasn’t published until 1948, after he left the military.
When looking at classic literature, the dated technology must be forgiven if not at least appreciated for its originality. A charm these stories definitely possess. Bur from a standpoint of literary quality, these stories may be a bit rough around the edges. Regardless, the imaginative characters and genuine wit is enough to give the reader a good a historical perspective of science fiction during that time. It would be a welcomed library addition to any admirer of the genre’s history.
I admitted that I was a fan of the classic pulp magazines, but it doesn’t mean I know about them all. Planet Stories is one such publication that leaves a void in my tiny universe of knowledge. Unfortunately, it seems this gem I found hiding on the library bookshelf may have been one of the last installments from Paizo Publishing. It looks like they might have produced other work under the Planet Stories line, but even those have stopped over a year ago. (Again, any insight on this would be greatly appreciated.) Oh, I’m definitely going to look for some of the other previous issues, but if the series is on hiatus or gone forever, it looks like yet another pulp magazine will rise in value as it becomes harder and harder copies.