“As You Were” by Henry Kuttner debuted in Thrilling Wonder Stories (August 1950) and was reprinted (unnumbered, as the 38th title) in the American Science Fiction Magazine series, published by the Malian Press, circa June 1955. As with all titles in this series, it features original cover art by renowned Australia illustrator Stanley Pitt. No other stories filled this issue, making this Kuttner’s first solo appearance of this story.
I read this novelette late one night during a mental catastrophe that kept me awake for hours, but in between, Henry Kuttner kept me company. With my love for vintage fiction, I am grateful that Kuttner came through for me during my darkest hours….
Graced by Stanley Pitt’s excellently enticing cover, one can’t help but wonder what sort of military presence is represented inside, due to the spaceship and the title. Nope. No military. In fact, no space ship. Say what?!?!?!?! No, it is a tale of time-travel. Our hero, a mutt of a youngster, drinks something foreign (no explanation for this is duly provided) that was supposed to be beer brought by Dr. Kraftt, a batty-ass old scientist that lacks any real scientific abilities and is oblivious to the one surrounding him throughout the story. Anyhow, our hero must somehow discern how a seamless blue clock permits time-travel, how long it lasts, the ramifications of multiple alternate possibilities, hopes he doesn’t run into himself or other others, save his sweetheart from a doomed acting career (typical slush), save an inept police officer’s job while inadvertently solving the crime of his asshole uncle’s stolen gold coins, not to mention the daffy Dr.’s missing stone frog. The plot is amusingly intricate at times and Kuttner’s tongue-in-cheek humor keeps you smiling as our hero deftly manages to fix situation after situation while creating new ones and having to keep all the past pasts straight. The only TRUE fault I ran into was that the clock would only wind back SO FAR, not far enough to see who stole or perpetuated the gold heist, yet, at the end of the story, the clock does just that. Clearly a mistake, unless I missed something……phew!