Friday, August 15, 2014

FFB: The Time Trap -- Henry Kuttner

I nabbed this when it was offered as a free eBook not long ago on Amazon.  It was originally published in a 1938 issue of Marvel Science Stories, so naturally that's the cover I chose to use here.  As you can see, the cover refers to "The Time Trap" as a complete novel, but it's really a novella.  It's a lot of fun if you're in the mood for an old-fashioned SF romp full of color and action and spectacle, but if you're not in the mood for it, well, this isn't the story you're looking for.

Kent Mason, an archaeologist, is separated from his expedition and lost in the desert when he stumbles across some ancient ruins that also show evidence of great scientific advancement.  There's a lightning storm as he stands between two metal towers, and he finds himself hurled back in time.  After that, anything goes, as Mason hooks up with a beautiful princess and a staunch ally to fight a villain from the far future.  The battle rages across any number of timestreams, but luckily Mason speaks a lot of languages, and when he encounters the race of sentient plants, no problem.  They use telepathy to communicate.

There's no doubt in my mind that Kuttner was drawing heavily on his reading of Wells (The Island of Dr. Moreau and The Time Machine).  He might also have been channeling the 1932 movie version of Moreau (The Island of Lost Souls).  His story has a lot more sex in it, though.  There are three different beautiful women who strip down to the buff for him and try to entice him into sex.  This stirred a memory in me, and so I did a quick search.  Sure enough, the story was on Ed Gorman's great blog several years ago.  It's well worth reading if you're interested in Kuttner, the pulps, the fate of Marvel Science Stories, or what the postal service thought about the publication of sexy stories in the late '30s.  You can read it here, and I think you'll get a kick out of it if you don't know the story already.

7 comments:

James Reasoner said...

I almost read this one and wrote about it, too. I suspect I'll get to it sooner rather than later. Kuttner is nearly always good.

George said...

I'm with James. Anything by Kuttner is worth reading.

Todd Mason said...

I hear/read, in the typically desultory way that such things are passed down, that for some reason his contributions to the mildly sexualized MARVEL were held against Kuttner for years by some in the sf community. Why (of if not, why not) his and so many others' similar work in the shudder pulps wasn't similarly a mark against them, dunno.

Bill Crider said...

That's the story that Mike Resnick recounts on Ed's blog. Strange, but probably true.

Todd Mason said...

Well, Resnick (I think I demonstrate in what I looked up in comments) overstates the case, I'd still suggest. I do know that Kuttner's story was quoted in the famous jocular PLAYBOY piece that Asimov responded to with his AMAZING SF story/jape, "PLAYBOY and the Slime God" (in his collections as "What Is This Thing Called Love?")

word verification: "shammeling" as in that other jape, SHAMELA...

Bill Crider said...

Resnick could be guilty of hyperbole, and I know nothing about the history of the magazine. By today's standards, of course, the story could appear in a Sunday School magazine. (A bit of hyperbole of my own, but not by much.)

Kelly Robinson said...

I love it when a free Kindle grab turns out to be a hit.