Dark Worlds: Tales of Heroic Fantasy

Edited by

576 pages, Smythe-Sewn Hardcover


Were it not for the untimely death of Robert E. Howard (author of blood-and-thunder sagas featuring “Conan the Barbarian,” “Kull of Atlantis,” etc. in the pulp magazine Weird Tales) and the early 20th Century popularity of fantasist A. Merritt (author of The Moon Pool, The Ship of Ishtar, etc.), many of these tales of heroic fantasy by Henry Kuttner might not exist. Following Howard’s suicide on June 11, 1936, several authors attempted to fill the resulting void in Weird Tales for bloody adventures featuring roguish characters traveling dangerous and primitive lands. Henry Kuttner submitted four adventures featuring “Elak of Atlantis” to Weird Tales and created the character of “Prince Raynor” for two stories published in 1939 issues of Strange Stories.

These six stories have been collected several times since 1985, so what makes this volume different? Editor Stephen Haffner has scoured Henry Kuttner’s total ouvré to resurrect/exhume/preserve seven additional stories of swordplay and adventure: Arthurian knights fighting alongside a WWII aviator; Norse invaders threatening the honor of Saxon maidens; vile Don Diego’s reign of brutality across Aztec lands; a battle ax-wielding Danish mercenary siding with Crusaders against the Turks, and more! Closing out this affair is arguably the most influential Kuttner novel of all time.

In the 1946 Merritt-esque effort, The Dark World, airman Edward Bond, who shares his body with a despotic wizard named Ganelon, travels to an alternate dimension and enters a battle with the Coven (a sorceress, a werewolf and an immortal) on his side, while the white witch Freydis leads a rebellion against him. Trapped between the two sides, Bond/Ganelon battle for supremacy over their shared mind and the fate of a world. Roger Zelazny has said The Dark World had the greatest impression on him when younger and remarked that much of its appeal comes from its “colorful, semi-mythic characters and strong action.” He cited Kuttner (and C. L. Moore) as major influences on his work, noting that Jane Lindskold identified a number of specific influences from Kuttner and Moore in his own work, particularly The Chronicles of Amber series.

"Thunder in the Dawn," Weird Tales, May-Jun. 1938
"Spawn of Dagon," Weird Tales, Jul. 1938
"Beyond the Phoenix," Weird Tales, Oct. 1939
"Dragon Moon," Weird Tales, Jan. 1941
"Cursed Be the City," Strange Stories, Apr. 1939
"Citadel of Darkness," Strange Stories, Aug. 1939
"Storm Over England," Thrilling Adventures, Dec. 1938
"The Shining Man," Fantastic Adventures, May 1940
"City of Blood," Thrilling Adventures, Nov. 1940
"Wolf of Aragon," Thrilling Adventures, Jul. 1941
"The Road to Yesterday," Thrilling Adventures, Aug. 1941
"Night of the Gods," Astonishing Stories, Dec. 1942
"Wet Magic," Unknown Worlds, Feb. 1943
"The Dark World," Startling Stories, Sum. 1946


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