Mutant Essay - Critical Essays

Henry Kuttner


After Henry Kuttner and C. L. Moore married in 1940, they collaborated on almost all of their writing. The extent of either partner’s contribution to a given story is now often difficult to determine. The Baldy stories were first published in magazines and in hardcover under their joint “Lewis Padgett” pen name. For the paperback version, Kuttner received the sole byline.

Kuttner and Moore were invited by editor John W. Campbell, Jr., to write for Astounding Science-Fiction magazine after the outbreak of World War II, when he lost many of his regular contributors to the war effort. Kuttner was discharged from military service for medical reasons. Prior to that, both had been better known for fantasy and horror than for science fiction. Campbell wanted to present them as a new, exclusive discovery of his magazine, so they adopted pen names, though the identities of the real authors soon were widely known within the science-fiction community. Always versatile, they produced some of their finest work for Campbell’s magazine.

The Baldy stories were among many stories Campbell’s magazine published in that era on the themes of telepathy, such as Slan by A. E. van Vogt (September-December, 1940; book form, 1946), which also dealt with a persecuted telepathic minority; mutation, such as Isaac Asimov’s “The Mule” (November-December, 1945; eventually part 2 of Foundation and Empire, 1952); and the effects of...

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