Robots Have No Tails (Trade Paperback)

****½ (based on 7 ratings)

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by Henry Kuttner, with an introduction by F. Paul Wilson

Hounded by creditors and heckled by an uncooperative robot, a binge-drinking inventor must solve the mystery of his own machines before his dodgy financing and reckless lifestyle catch up to him.

This complete collection of Kuttner’s five classic "Gallegher" stories presents the author at the height of his imaginative genius. A foreword by popular modern novelist F. Paul Wilson (Repairman Jack, The Keep) provides an entertaining introduction to some of the greatest humorous science fiction ever published in the pulps!

120-page softcover trade paperback ISBN-13: 978-1-60125-153-4

    Contents:
  • "...But They Do Have Tales" (introduction by F. Paul Wilson)
  • "Introduction" (by C.L. Moore)
  • "Time Locker"
  • "The World is Mine"
  • "The Proud Robot"
  • "Gallegher Plus"
  • "Ex Machina"

Table of Contents

"Time Locker" Spread

"The Proud Robot" Spread

About the Author

Ray Bradbury once referred to Henry Kuttner as "a neglected master... a man who shaped science fiction and fantasy in its most important years." Born in Los Angeles, Henry Kuttner (1915–1958) sold his first story, "The Graveyard Rats," to Weird Tales in 1936, the same year in which he wrote a fan letter to rising science fiction author C.L. Moore, mistakenly believing her to be a man. The two were married in 1940, and in the years that followed they collaborated constantly, publishing under at least 17 pseudonyms, most notably Lewis Padgett and Keith Hammond. Along with Elak of Atlantis and Prince Raynor, both of which were created before his marriage to Moore, Kuttner's most popular solo works were the Gallegher stories, tales about an inventor who could only build robots while drunk, and who upon sobering immediately forgot their purposes. As a friend of H.P. Lovecraft and Clark Ashton Smith, Kuttner also contributed several stories to the Cthulhu mythos. In addition to writing scripts for television in collaboration with Moore, Kuttner wrote several stories that have since been translated to film, most recently "Mimsy Were the Borogroves," released as The Last Mimsy. In the years since his untimely death from a heart attack at 43, Kuttner has been cited as an influence by everyone from Marion Zimmer Bradley to Roger Zelazny, and both Richard Matheson and Ray Bradbury have dedicated novels to him.

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1 to 5 of 7 << first < prev | 1 | 2 | next > last >>

Average product rating:

****½ (based on 7 ratings)

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Best Read in Small Doses

***( )( )

This was an enjoyable collection of short stories about an amateur inventor-for-hire. The stories are very light-hearted and intentionally comical SF, with the major premise being that the inventor is only successful when extremely drunk, and can never remember how or what he invented when sober (suffice it to say, these stories were written when chronic alcoholism was thought of as hilarious rather than tragic). His creations are usually gonzo strange, involving time-travel, other dimensions, etc. Although the Introduction disagrees, I actually thought the first story was the best, in which the inventor was a secondary character and an extraordinarily clever lawyer was at center stage (but I like law, so my bias is apparent). I did find the stories lost some of their fun near the end of the collection, but they were meant to be read individually and not back-to-back. Overall, an interesting and unusual departure for the Planet Stories line.


Very fun read, if a little repetitive.

****( )

I really enjoyed reading these stories. They are pretty light reading and nothing that you really need to think about. I like how you never really meet Gallegher Plus. It puts you into the shoes of Gallegher. Somehow Gallegher always manages to find his way out of his situations and figure out just what Gallegher Plus invented and what it was for.

Unfortunately it suffers a little from repetition. It is an artifact of this being a collection of short stories written over a number of years for publication in a magazine. He has to continuously reintroduce the character in each story, with a heavy handed manner to emphasize just how much of a drunk he is. This is to be expected considering the format of original publication. I don't have any problem with the character being a drunk; unfortunately the repetition just starts to get a little old. Mind you the stories themselves aren’t repetitive, just the constant emphasis on him being a lush.

If we could give half star ratings this would definitely get a 4.5 from me. As I just can’t give something a higher rating than it deserves it only gets a 4 from me.


Should be a college study course

*****

I swear. No one knows how to write a short story. They like to write brief moments of wonder and perhaps hope and dreams, but there is never any oompf for its conclusion. Its as if they put forth a page from their WIP novel. Here we have a master showing everyone just what an audience wants from a Short Story. Study this book well writers, the short story form done right can be very powerful.


Very Good Fun

*****

A really nice book with stories you can't put down until you are done. I laughed out laud, and thoroughly loved the way the stories end, when Gallegher finally figures it out.

I like the new format too, the interior art is nicely done, and I like the columns.

Yet another Author I've never read before and now love.


Not Free SF Reader

****( )

A collection of stories about a whacky future inventor who can invent crazy stuff like time machines, but only when he is drunk enough to let his subconscious come out and take a crack at it. The problem is that he is the get so smashed he can't remembers what he has done kind of drunk.

The future as seen from the 1940s, of course. So, you have 3-D tv, computers, but nothing like communications now. Retina printing, though.

Time machines, annoying robots, little furry guys from the future who want to take over the world, and other silliness is to be found here.

I find them amusing, but not hilarious.

Robots Have No Tails : Time Locker - Henry Kuttner
Robots Have No Tails : The World is Mine - Henry Kuttner
Robots Have No Tails : The Proud Robot - Henry Kuttner
Robots Have No Tails : Gallegher Plus - Henry Kuttner
Robots Have No Tails : Ex Machina - Henry Kuttner


1 to 5 of 7 << first < prev | 1 | 2 | next > last >>

If I saw this book in a bookstore without knowing anything about Henry Kuttner, I wouldn’t even pick it up. Why? The cover art.
If it’s not too late, I’d suggest a different cover illustration. One with more of a feeling of science fiction, imagination, and fun than a big white head can convey.
Many of your other book covers are very reminiscent of the pulps, I like that a lot. It gives this series a classic feel.
This set of Kuttner stories, some of Kuttner’s best, deserves a better cover.

Scarab Sages

Theris Nordo Ichka wrote:

If I saw this book in a bookstore without knowing anything about Henry Kuttner, I wouldn’t even pick it up. Why? The cover art.

If it’s not too late, I’d suggest a different cover illustration. One with more of a feeling of science fiction, imagination, and fun than a big white head can convey.
Many of your other book covers are very reminiscent of the pulps, I like that a lot. It gives this series a classic feel.
This set of Kuttner stories, some of Kuttner’s best, deserves a better cover.

All the books from Outlaws of Mars (Feb 2009) on have mock-up covers at the moment, I assume this is no exception (though I've no idea where it's from, I recognise all the others from Pathfinder). I totally agree that if the current art is final then it's kind of lame (if I saw that in a shop, I would assume serious, AI-based hard science fiction, and would probably pass it over unless I knew the author, plus it would look kind of out of place in a Planet Stories collection), but hopefully Paizo are coming up with something suitably awesome for the final thing and we'll see it in the next few months :).

Scarab Sages

I like it. For me, it evokes the feeling of classic sci-fi that Kuttner, in part, represents. Just remember the old adage - "Never judge a book by its cover."


This cover is a mock-up - we won't even ORDER the actual cover illustration for several weeks. Don't worry. :)

Paizo Employee Senior Software Developer

We've just updated the product description with what I think is the actual cover. (Or at least a close mockup.)

Paizo Employee Chief Technical Officer

Gary Teter wrote:
We've just updated the product description with what I think is the actual cover. (Or at least a close mockup.)

This is indeed the finished cover. We've also added some sample spreads to show off the new look for Planet Stories!

Liberty's Edge

Looks great

Paizo Employee Franchise Manager

Seeing the two column layout of the pages makes me wonder, will the books remain standard trade size, or will they be larger to accommodate the new design, which I imagine would be a tight fit on the existing size books?

Paizo Employee Chief Creative Officer, Publisher

They're taller and wider than the current format.

Sovereign Court

Adventure Path Charter Subscriber; Pathfinder Campaign Setting, Companion, Modules, Starfinder Adventure Path, Tales Subscriber; Pathfinder Comics Subscriber
Erik Mona wrote:
They're taller and wider than the current format.

So the look turns more "pulp magazinish"? ;-)

Cheers,
Günther


Gary Teter wrote:
We've just updated the product description with what I think is the actual cover. (Or at least a close mockup.)

That's a much-improved cover and interior layout. Kudos!


Not a big fan of the two columns per page layout, unless they're going to be published in a larger page-size. I'm curious about what went in to making that decision.

Sovereign Court

Adventure Path Charter Subscriber; Pathfinder Campaign Setting, Companion, Modules, Starfinder Adventure Path, Tales Subscriber; Pathfinder Comics Subscriber
turtlejet wrote:
Not a big fan of the two columns per page layout, unless they're going to be published in a larger page-size.

As Erik already mentioned above about the new format:

Erik Mona wrote:
They're taller and wider than the current format.


Great cover! And that fedora is a nice touch.


I just picked up "Robots have no Tails." Are all new Planet Stories books going to be in diegest size.

Paizo Employee Chief Creative Officer, Publisher

The trim size on this book will be the standard going forward, but the thickness will vary by the volume. Also, we'll be experimenting a bit with interior and cover paper stock, mostly to add durability.


well i just ordered robots have no tales

im hopeing its as funny as you guys have said


this book is a blast iv just finished the first two stories and they are truly funny as well as being awesome stories

the story the world is mine still has me laughing

i definetly see myself buying more henry kuttner books from planet stories anything planned for the future

The Exchange

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Cards, Companion, Maps, Modules, Pawns, Roleplaying Game Subscriber

I am working on a book review. I should have it up fairly soon.

The Exchange

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Cards, Companion, Maps, Modules, Pawns, Roleplaying Game Subscriber

Its up! And Montalve jumped in with his review too!

Pathfinder Chronicler

Paizo Employee Franchise Manager

I special ordered this in January from a local bookstore who said their distributor was all out and they'd have to get more from the publisher, but now they're telling me that it's out of print or at least unavailable to the distributor. While I could get it straight from Paizo, I'd love to support my independent bookseller. Any idea why they can't get this book?

Paizo Employee Chief Technical Officer

yoda8myhead wrote:
I special ordered this in January from a local bookstore who said their distributor was all out and they'd have to get more from the publisher, but now they're telling me that it's out of print or at least unavailable to the distributor. While I could get it straight from Paizo, I'd love to support my independent bookseller. Any idea why they can't get this book?

We have plenty; they should have no problems. Who are they?

Former VP of Finance

yoda8myhead wrote:
I special ordered this in January from a local bookstore who said their distributor was all out and they'd have to get more from the publisher, but now they're telling me that it's out of print or at least unavailable to the distributor. While I could get it straight from Paizo, I'd love to support my independent bookseller. Any idea why they can't get this book?

Also, Diamond Books, our supplier to the book chain, has plenty in stock.

There should be no reason at all that they can't get it.

Paizo Employee Franchise Manager

I'll stop in there tomorrow and try to get more info on it. It did seem strange to me, especially because they got Steppe without a problem or delay.

Paizo Employee Franchise Manager

They don't have an account with Diamond, but use Ingram as their primary book distributor. They also use Bookazine. The store owner said that her computer system shows 14 copies on order from Ingram but that they only get shipments from the Pennsylvania warehouse and not the Indiana one, which apparently does have copies in stock.

Former VP of Finance

yoda8myhead wrote:
They don't have an account with Diamond, but use Ingram as their primary book distributor. They also use Bookazine. The store owner said that her computer system shows 14 copies on order from Ingram but that they only get shipments from the Pennsylvania warehouse and not the Indiana one, which apparently does have copies in stock.

Sounds to me like your store's manager needs to get his Ingram sales rep to give the Ingram buyer a few words about warehouse allocation. (Ingram buys from Diamond, just to be clear.)

It frustrates me more than a bit when the distribution chain breaks that far up the line from us. I'm glad that the hobby distribution chain has fewer links.


Just wondering...How was the order of the 5 stories in this edition decided? I am going to order it soon as I have lost(it was stolen)my old hardcover edition and the stories were in a different order.

Paizo Employee Chief Creative Officer, Publisher

The stories in our edition are presented in chronological order of publication. The first story ("Time Locker") was published in January 1943 in Astounding. The final story ("Ex Machina") was written and published quite a bit later in 1948 (in the same magazine).

The Exchange

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Cards, Companion, Maps, Modules, Pawns, Roleplaying Game Subscriber

Here is my honest to God book review of Robots Have No Tails. There was a time at PathfinderChronicler.Net when we ran a huge gamut of articles related to Paizo, now we only publish Pathfinder Fiction stories. So, I have gone and dusted off my review so I may leave it here, where I feel it can serve Planet Stories best.

Robots Have No Tails is a series of short stories surrounding a not so tragic figure. These short stories always start with our inventor, Galloway Gallegher, having problems remembering what it was he had invented. There is a consequence to this memory loss, because his investors are usually becoming upset enough to take drastic action. As a person, Gallegher is a completely irresponsible person that has made a living by getting drunk and inventing something he has no recollection of. In turn, his invention (or soon to be built one) fetches an advance in credits he rarely sees while conscious. Welcome to page one of each of these stories.

If there is one word that must be used to describe this collection of Henry Kuttner stories, it has to be precision. From the beginning, Kuttner sets up each story like a mystery. The question being: what happened while Gallegher was unconsciously drunk? To answer this, Kuttner quickly injects several elements into his stories that are intriguing and fairly concerning. The invention created by Gallegher is an unknown factor as are the people’s motivations that hired him. The only thing that helps are the witnesses to Gallegher’s mad inventing. Kuttner cleverly adds clues via several personalities: Gallegher’s father, Narcissus (Joe) the Robot and the scary “wanting to conquer the world” Lybblas. Couple these characters with the clients that hired him, and you have a story that moves at a brisk pace.

Robots Have No Tails is a humorous tightly written collection. For any writer having doubts on writing their own short story, they needn't look further than this book. Not a page is wasted by Kuttner's writing style. Each element of the story that seems unrelated or "in the background" has a part to play in the conclusion. As Gallagher makes his way to the truth, we get to see what kind of man this inventor is. Quite often, he is the victim. He is also a sleuth and an unwitting adventurer. He likes to have fun and wants to better his situation. To be exact, he is someone like us, but in a bad situation. We never really see Gallagher's genius as a scientist but we live with the aftermath of his dealings and inventions.

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