Reading and rereading these stories, one has to wonder (and especially one already peering into the rearview mirror) why it is that Kuttner and Moore are so nearly forgotten.
Aside, naturally, from the fact that their books are not sitting in glossy uniform paperback editions on shelves at WalMart and Barnes & Noble.
And aside from the general truth that, in the arts, innovators pass the torch on to popularizers. Few of us listen to Lonnie Johnson these days. Many listen to Stevie Ray Vaughan—even wear the hat.
Certainly the work is dated. The earliest of these stories is from 1940, the most recent from 1956 and 1958; the bulk are from the early to mid-forties. Narrative conventions have changed, social norms have shifted and shifted again, and many of the elements that initially gave the work such impact, that made it so startlingly original—sharply depicted characterizations, the attention to detail in the writing, the moodiness of settings, its moral gravity, even the ideas—have long since passed into the mainstream of science fiction, and therefrom to film and TV.
Time is a careless shepherd. Kuttner’s and Moore’s work is very much of a specific instant, suspended back there during science fiction’s golden age and the last hurrah of the pulps with dozens of magazines needing material. It was a passage even then narrowing as newfangled paperback novels supplanted the role of magazine fiction. And though they wrote novels, Kuttner and Moore were primarily short-story writers. They were, too, extremely versatile, ever hopping from horse to horse, hard to get a hold on. Their contributions, the directions in which they urged the field, the facility and ambitions they fostered, are massive. And they are forgotten.”