Thursday, May 27, 2010

Henry Kuttner's "What Hath Me" (novelette, adventure, free): Good & evil posthumans fight, using a man as tool

A cocktail of many much-hashed themes here, & while not entirely unreadable, I'll put it among the most meaningless pieces from Kuttner.

Story summary.

1000 years ago, evolution speeded up for 7 humans - a step that magically transformed them into posthumans millions of years in advance of normal humanity. They became the source of Norse legends - "Aesir", & "John Starr and Lorna". We also see a related legend of "Asgard" "where the Aesir lived and ruled the worlds of Man".

Two of these posthumans are "good" - John Starr & Lorna, collectively called "Protectors". Other 5 are evil; they're Aesir - a species of their own. Aesir live on an artificial world in Asteroid belt called Asgard, & frequently take sacrifices - humans, Venusians, Martians, ... - apart from ultimately ruling these worlds via puppet native rulers.

Protectors have been trying to destroy Aesir through centuries, without success. Now using Derek Stuart as a tool, they'll succeed in their mission.

See also.

  1. E E "doc" Smith's "Lensman" series. Aesir & Protectors sounded a lot like Eddorians & Assyrians.
  2. Henry Kuttner's "The Creature from Beyond Infinity": Another story where evolution suddenly speeds up greatly for some people.
  3. Aesir "feed" on their victim's intangible "human warmth" - another trope that has been used in many stories. See, e.g., Eric Frank Russell's "Sinister Barrier", & C L Moore's "Shambleau" (download) & "Black Thirst" (in the last one, the evil aliens "eat" the "beauty" of victim girls!)
  4. We meet some of the agents of Aesir, as well sometimes Aesir themselves, where their manifestation is as a luminosity or "star lights" - a not uncommon rendition for advanced aliens in fiction. One of the most famous story of this kind is Abraham Merritt's "The Moon Pool" (download); less well known are Eric Frank Russell's "Hobbyist" & Kono Tensei's "Hikari" (included in this collection).

Fact sheet.

First published: Planet Stories, Spring 1946.
Download full text from Internet Archive or this unnamed site.
Rating: C.
Related: Stories of Henry Kuttner.