Fritz Leiber

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anybody w/opinions on this dude? he's the subject of the next ep of my radio show, which goes on this Tuesday on Resonance FM

http://freakytrigger.co.uk/slugoftime

sadly it appears that the other stories in the collection "Pail of Air" are not so hot, which surprises me since Pail of Air itself is SO GOOD

(the last family on earth survives on an Earth whose atmosphere has frozen and fallen to the ground; to breathe they must go outside and collect pails of oxygen that they thaw over the fireplace!)

Tracer Hand, Saturday, 5 April 2008 16:50 (nine years ago) Permalink

Ha, I was going to recommend "A Pail Of Air" to you on one of the other threads, but I figured correctly that you'd get around to it on your own.

James Redd and the Blecchs, Sunday, 6 April 2008 02:52 (nine years ago) Permalink

Anway I really liked one novel called You're All Alone, about a guy who realizes that everybody and everything else in the world is an automaton. Somehow he has woken up and become self-aware, but it is not clear how or why. He ends up having to hide from some black bowler-hatted guys who he sees now and then who seem to be managing the show from behind the scenes. Maybe the plot doesn't sound that unique now that I describe it, but it scared the bejeezus out of me when I was twelve. Tried and tried, but never really liked Fafhrd and the Grey Mouser or the Change War stuff.

James Redd and the Blecchs, Sunday, 6 April 2008 03:04 (nine years ago) Permalink

Didn't like the stuff with witches like Conjure Wife or Gather Darkness! much either.

James Redd and the Blecchs, Sunday, 6 April 2008 03:30 (nine years ago) Permalink

Nor the one about the publisher's trying to cut costs by having books written by corporate-owned brains-in-vats, The Silver Eggheads. I use to think this guy was a favorite, now I realize I only ever liked two things that he did.

James Redd and the Blecchs, Sunday, 6 April 2008 03:32 (nine years ago) Permalink

You and Sinkah couldn't go too wrong if you just stuck with this book for your series.

James Redd and the Blecchs, Sunday, 6 April 2008 03:51 (nine years ago) Permalink

I finally got what I had wanted from Conjure Wife when I saw Dreyer's Day Of Wrath. I guess if I had to come up with an opinion after all these years, it's that the guy got caught up in some stagy trappings, period props and costumes without telling good stories or creating interesting characters or moods, etc. His best two stories are about what it feels like when the world is barely there at all.

James Redd and the Blecchs, Sunday, 6 April 2008 04:03 (nine years ago) Permalink

i tried to post last night to mention having a similar sort of problem - i like the ideas of a lot of his stuff so much in theory that i just find it kind of disappointing in the execution.

partic 'a spectre is haunting texas', which title has so much potential.

i ordered a copy of the old pail of air collection and then realised i had the story in a best of fritz leiber collection with a kitten paw smashing a spaceship on the cover.

thomp, Sunday, 6 April 2008 14:59 (nine years ago) Permalink

i tried to post last night to mention having a similar sort of problem - i like the ideas of a lot of his stuff so much in theory that i just find it kind of disappointing in the execution.
OTM. He succumbs to the classic problem of Sci-fi which a friend of mine from Austin who is not HOOS describes as hitting you with "The Big Premise" and then failing to follow through.

James Redd and the Blecchs, Sunday, 6 April 2008 15:43 (nine years ago) Permalink

the premise of a spectre is haunting texas is a republic of texas that's taken over the entire united states, where the assassination of kennedy has taken on the status of a sun-god myth & the president is ritually shot from a high building every year. the plot's about a guy from the moon trying to make it with a midget.

thomp, Sunday, 6 April 2008 20:44 (nine years ago) Permalink

thomp, Sunday, 6 April 2008 20:45 (nine years ago) Permalink

Haha, thomp.

James Redd and the Blecchs, Sunday, 6 April 2008 21:18 (nine years ago) Permalink

Slowest downloading podcast ever.

James Redd and the Blecchs, Monday, 7 April 2008 03:14 (nine years ago) Permalink

OK, it finally downloaded. Listened last night and this morning. Pretty good.

You're All Alone is in print under its other title The Sinful Ones.

James Redd and the Blecchs, Monday, 7 April 2008 12:58 (nine years ago) Permalink

I've read very little Leiber, but I remember really enjoying his story "The Phantom Slayer" (I think), an atmospheric urban ghost-story/serial killer yarn.

The Real Dirty Vicar, Monday, 7 April 2008 15:27 (nine years ago) Permalink

He had a bunch of stories that were anthologized a lot, like "Gonna Roll Them Bones," but I remember next to nothing about them.

James Redd and the Blecchs, Monday, 7 April 2008 15:30 (nine years ago) Permalink

i never actually realised that <i>gather, darkness</i> (tagline on my edition: "the second atomic age is menaced by witchcraft!") was literally about witches; that's kind of disappointing, actually.

thomp, Monday, 7 April 2008 19:23 (nine years ago) Permalink

I think maybe ***SPOILER*** they only pretend to be witches.

James Redd and the Blecchs, Monday, 7 April 2008 19:31 (nine years ago) Permalink

I tried to read The Wanderer, but it didn't really grab me. Also read some of the Lankhmar stories, which were fine, but I haven't rushed back for more. Glad to see this thread, though--I fondly remember A Pail of Air from when I was a 12-year-old, but could not remember the title and author.

James Morrison, Monday, 7 April 2008 23:19 (nine years ago) Permalink

I don't know if Tracer Hand is ever coming back. Looks like the three of us are gonna be all alone with a pail of air.

James Redd and the Blecchs, Tuesday, 8 April 2008 00:07 (nine years ago) Permalink

I don't remember the title of it, but the story where the woman uncreates her world is pretty impressive. big fan of this dude back in the day, and i still pick up his paperbacks when i see them cheap (including the lankhmar stuff, rarely.)

ian, Friday, 11 April 2008 14:41 (nine years ago) Permalink

and by "back in the day" i clearly mean middle school.

ian, Friday, 11 April 2008 14:43 (nine years ago) Permalink

Never read a word of him, but Fafhrd (sp?) / 'Gray' Mouser were huge among older US role-playing gamers back in 1970s / 1980s. Gary Gygax obviously saw those books as a major inspiration for D&D (though so much of the basics = Tolkien of course), and eventually - 1986? - they released an AD&D supplement called LANKHMAR: CITY OF ADVENTURE. I still own that, though I've never properly read it; still less did I ever play any games with it. (Note that this was all a long time ago.)

Perhaps this is not of interest to anyone.

the pinefox, Monday, 14 April 2008 16:10 (nine years ago) Permalink

After a little hesitation, Tom and Mark explained that on the radio show.

James Redd and the Blecchs, Monday, 14 April 2008 16:24 (nine years ago) Permalink

i don't recall them going into the d&d bit, tho i did doze off towards the end /:

my copy of 'pail of air' arrived today, and is in fact the one used on FT

the other source of D&Dmythosstuff of course being jack vance blah blah blah blah

thomp, Monday, 14 April 2008 21:40 (nine years ago) Permalink

hi James Redd and thomp and pinefox and DV! i'm sorry i've been awol

that "science fiction hall of fame" book looks great! i should probably get it. a very poorly-kept "secret" about the show we're doing is that i know fvck-all about science fiction really, having gotten into the early 70s Galaxy magazine stuff about two years ago and then working backwards (and occasionally forwards) from there.

the book i'm kind of using as an unofficial bible for the show is "The World Turned Upside Down", which contains the two stone-cold classics that we began the show with as well as a lot of other good stuff. it's really worth getting.

Tracer Hand, Monday, 14 April 2008 21:52 (nine years ago) Permalink

in that hall of fame book i'm proud to say that i have read "a rose for ecclesiastes", which is SUPERB despite some pretty cartoony kung-fu at the end

Tracer Hand, Monday, 14 April 2008 21:57 (nine years ago) Permalink

Did you look at the contents of Volume 2, 2A actually, which I forgot to link to?

James Redd and the Blecchs, Monday, 14 April 2008 22:02 (nine years ago) Permalink

no! how come?

it's too bad to hear that the rest of leiber's stuff is so hit and miss.

Tracer Hand, Monday, 14 April 2008 22:12 (nine years ago) Permalink

you'll soon find that was the case with 99% of his contemporaries as well.

ian, Tuesday, 15 April 2008 01:03 (nine years ago) Permalink

Volume Two has the longer stories, the novellas, including "The Marching Morons," "With Folded Hands" and another story you might be familiar with.
Yes, perhaps you will come across something known as Sturgeon's Law in your researches, although Sturgeon's constant was a little lower than ian's.

There was another Fritz Leiber story in one of the Dangerous Visions called "Gonna Roll Them Bones" that got a lot of attention, but I barely remember anything about it- I assume it was a craps version of The Seventh Seal. Also mentioned with some frequency is "The Girl With The Hungry Eyes"- the sci-fi entry in the Harold Bloom criticism series, which I peeked at an preparation for this thread- has a quote about this story from Marshall McLuhan!

James Redd and the Blecchs, Tuesday, 15 April 2008 01:07 (nine years ago) Permalink

Wait, xpost mechanism ate my edited response to Ian's post, which was:

Yes, perhaps you will come across something known as Sturgeon's Law in your researches, although Sturgeon's constant was a little lower than ian's.

James Redd and the Blecchs, Tuesday, 15 April 2008 01:09 (nine years ago) Permalink

i think it's a little rich of ted sturgeon to take credit for something that every moderately rockist stoner has come up with in the wee hours

Tracer Hand, Tuesday, 15 April 2008 10:01 (nine years ago) Permalink

surely it's an anti-rockist sentiment:

"dude 90% of pop sucks!"
"90% of everything sucks, dude!"

ledge, Tuesday, 15 April 2008 10:05 (nine years ago) Permalink

it was after all coined in defence of sf, which some saw as trivial crud.

ledge, Tuesday, 15 April 2008 10:06 (nine years ago) Permalink

Alternative phrasing

Sturgeon's Law is often cited using crud instead of crap or shit. The percentage figure also sometimes varies, having been in print as "94%" and even "98%."[citation needed]

The current phrasing of the Law is often taken as the second clause of a longer saying: "Ninety percent of science fiction is crud, but that's because ninety percent of everything is crud."

Interpretations

The meaning of Sturgeon's Law was explicitly detailed by Sturgeon himself. He made his original remarks in direct response to attacks against science fiction that used "the worst examples of the field for ammunition." Using the same standards that categorize 90% of science fiction as trash, crud, or crap, it can be argued that 90% of film, literature, consumer goods, etc. are crap. In other words, the claim (or fact) that 90% of science fiction is crud is ultimately uninformative, because science fiction conforms to the same trends of quality as all other artistic artifacts do.

Sturgeon's Law may be regarded as an instance of the Pareto principle.

See also:
Finagle's law
Hanlon's razor
Gresham's law
Law (principle)
Adages named after people
Murphy's law

thomp, Tuesday, 15 April 2008 11:58 (nine years ago) Permalink

The sci-fi community needed that in place so when the auditors came calling they could say: "Quality control? We have quality control- we have Sturgeon's Law!"

James Redd and the Blecchs, Tuesday, 15 April 2008 12:37 (nine years ago) Permalink

so should we have a general slugs thread? i can't remember having read tonight's asimov story from the title: on the other one, that doesn't mean i haven't, i guess..

thomp, Tuesday, 15 April 2008 15:06 (nine years ago) Permalink

I went through that same thought process.

James Redd and the Blecchs, Tuesday, 15 April 2008 15:10 (nine years ago) Permalink

yeah maybe! i was thinking of starting a new thread for each story? what do you guys think? is that too akin to spammage?

Tracer Hand, Tuesday, 15 April 2008 15:10 (nine years ago) Permalink

looking at the wikipedia summary it sounds fairly typical and i don't remember it at all, but it turns out it's collected in robot visions, which i totally had as a ten year old, and may still, in my parents' loft, & know i read the whole thing because i remember feeling incredibly short-changed on getting halfway through and finding the second half was a bunch of essays - i mean, what kind of loser reads essays? those aren't exciting at all -

but uh yeah i've read it, who knew.

ooh, x posts. it's not like we're too crowded to fit another thread in, let's do both.

thomp, Tuesday, 15 April 2008 15:11 (nine years ago) Permalink

i.e. one for each story plus one to speculate about THEE VAST OVERARCHING PROJECT OF THEE SLUGLORDS. (or whatever.)

thomp, Tuesday, 15 April 2008 15:12 (nine years ago) Permalink

that sounds great if you guys are down with it! OK

Tracer Hand, Tuesday, 15 April 2008 15:59 (nine years ago) Permalink

I tried to revisit his stuff last week by looking at it in library anthologies but I kept getting sandbagged by openings like this:

Come in, Phy, and make yourself comfortable."

The melllow voice- and the suddenly dilating doorway- caught the general secretary of the World playing with a blob of greenish gasoid, squeezing it in his fist and watching it ooze between his fingers in spatulate tendrils that did not dissipate."

James Redd and the Blecchs, Monday, 21 April 2008 01:29 (nine years ago) Permalink

The other Fritz Leiber thread, where some of us said exactly what we said on this thread.

James Redd and the Blecchs, Monday, 21 April 2008 01:31 (nine years ago) Permalink

Anyway, I can't really keep up with the sluglords- by the time I post to one thread they do a hyperspace jump to one for the following week.

James Redd and the Blecchs, Monday, 21 April 2008 01:47 (nine years ago) Permalink

"spatulate" !

thomp, Monday, 21 April 2008 09:33 (nine years ago) Permalink

I looked it up- it means "leaf-shaped." I thought it would have meant "spatula-shaped."

James Redd and the Blecchs, Monday, 21 April 2008 10:41 (nine years ago) Permalink

i enjoyed the leiber slugs podcast, looking forward to listening to the other ones!

hey guys, no offense, but one tech note...when i had the volume up loud enough to hear all the talking (and occasional trailing off), some of those sound effect interludes were just piercing.

Jordan, Monday, 21 April 2008 14:36 (nine years ago) Permalink

Yeah, I had a similar problem.

James Redd and the Blecchs, Monday, 21 April 2008 14:43 (nine years ago) Permalink

Spatulate

James Redd and the Blecchs, Monday, 21 April 2008 14:46 (nine years ago) Permalink

the novel-length lankhmar is my favourite -- eg the one where emperor glipkerio is

*SPOILERS ALERT*

a: freaked out by a single female pubic hair placed on his pillow!
b: commits suicide by jumping into a lead sarcophagus poised on a slipway down into the sea -- a sea so deep the coffin doesn't go all the way to the bottom but comes to rest at a midway bouyancy point, the lead pressed down on glipkerio so as to finelymould his features

mark s, Thursday, 24 April 2008 12:57 (nine years ago) Permalink

one month passes...

That's 'Swords of Lankhmar' - absolute classic. Always imagined Glipkerio as John Hurt's Caligula. The whole Lankhmar series is great: grown-up, literate and very, very perverse.

But no, Silver Eggheads isn't very good at all, and folk upthread seem to have been remarkably unlucky in hitting his less worthwhile writing. Fritz was a troubled alcoholic who wrote to support himself, which doesn't make for quality control. But when he's really on, he's incomparable, the writer I go back to whenever I'm jaded - picking up 'The Green Millennium' prompted me to search out this thread. My other tip would be 'Our Lady of Darkness', my favorite horror novel, set in decadent 70's San Francisco.

Soukesian, Saturday, 7 June 2008 09:27 (eight years ago) Permalink


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