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SFF Author: Fritz Leiber

Fritz Leiber(1910-1992)
Fritz Leiber gets the credit for coining the term “Sword & Sorcery” and for being extremely influential to many writers of science fiction, horror, and fantasy. The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction acknowledged his popularity by dedicating their entire July 1969 issue to him (this was only half-way through his career!). Leiber wrote dozens of award-winning novels, short stories, and collections, but his most popular works are the Fafhrd & the Gray Mouser (Lankhmar) short stories.



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Conjure Wife: A great book to curl up with on Halloween!

Conjure Wife by Fritz Leiber

Conjure Wifeis a 1943 horror novel by master fantasist Fritz Leiber, who is best known for his excellent FAFHRD AND THE GRAY MOUSER stories. While Conjure Wife is usually labeled as horror, the recently released trade paperback edition from Orb is marketed as “the classic of urban fantasy” — maybe to latch on to the recent surge in popularity of that sub-genre? Regardless of which genre it’s placed in, Conjure Wife is an excellent novel that definitely deserved a re-release.


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Gather, Darkness!: Hard times in Megatheopolis

Gather, Darkness! by Fritz Leiber

By April 1943, Chicago-born author Fritz Leiber had seen around 20 of his short stories released in the various pulp magazines of the day and was ready to embark as a full-fledged novelist. Thus, his first longer work, Conjure Wife, did indeed make its debut in the 4/43 issue of Unknown, the fantasy-oriented sister magazine of John W. Campbell’s Astounding Science-Fiction. In it, a college professor, Norman Saylor, discovers that his wife,


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The Big Time: A concept novella

The Big Time by Fritz Leiber

Available free on Kindle.

The Place is a recuperation station outside of space and time where Spider soldiers in The Change War go for rest and relaxation between operations. This war has been going on between The Spiders and The Snakes since the beginning of time and Soldiers have been drafted (resurrected) into “The Big Time” from many points in history. From outside of time, they can plunge in at crucial moments and manipulate events to serve their cause, or they can change things ex post facto,


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The Night of the Long Knives: Totally absorbing

The Night of the Long Knives by Fritz Leiber

Free on Kindle.

Murder, as you must know by now, I can understand and sympathize with deeply. But war? No.

After a nuclear holocaust, America is unrecognizable. There are a few cities left on the coasts, but most of America is now the Deathlands, where radioactive dust hazes the skies and radiation-scarred survivors try to stay alive another day. Besides devastating the land, the catastrophe has somehow warped the minds of the few remaining citizens of the Deathlands;


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Swords and Deviltry: Adventure, male camaraderie, easy women

Swords and Deviltry by Fritz Leiber

Brilliance Audio and Audible Frontiers have recently produced audio versions of the Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser stories, so it seemed like a great time for me to finally read them. Within two minutes of putting Swords and Deviltry on my MP3 player and pressing play, I was completely enthralled. The first part of the novel (which is really a compilation of short stories) tells the tale of Fafhrd’s liberation from the taboos, close-mindedness, and “icy morality” of his mother and clan (and the girl he got pregnant) in the northern wastes.


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Swords Against Death: Sword and sorcery’s most famous duo

Swords Against Death by Fritz Leiber

After a self-imposed exile, our heroes — the legendary Fafhrd and Gray Mouser — are back to their old shenanigans in the sinful city of Lankhmar. Shortly after their return, they find themselves hypnotically drawn across Newhon’s Outer Sea to lands unknown, only to have to survive a perilous journey to again get back to Lankhmar — the closest thing they have to a home. Along with their other misadventures, they finally come to terms with the deaths of their true-loves.

As stated on the book’s back-cover,


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Swords in the Mist: Uneven

Swords in the Mist by Fritz Leiber

All due respect to the late Fritz Leiber, but overall, this book was weak.

The first story, “Cloud of Hate” was good. Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser unwittingly take-on Hate embodied in a noxious mist that turns already shady characters into rampaging serial killers. The next one, “Lean Times in Lankhmar”, starts out interesting as the life-long friends go their separates ways, but goes flat. “Their Mistress, the Sea” builds up well but the ending seemed to be missing something. The rest of the book brings Fafhrd and Gray Mouser to our world’s ancient history,


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Swords Against Wizardry: Leiber’s fantastic imagination on full display

Swords Against Wizardry by Fritz Leiber

The time has come for sorcery and swords.

After a somewhat disappointing third volume in the Lankhmar series, Fritz Leiber is back to form in Swords Against Wizardry. This book contains four stories about Fafhrd the big red-headed barbarian, and The Gray Mouser, the small wily magician-thief. Three of the stories come from the pulp magazine Fantastic and the first story was created for this volume as an introduction. The stories fit so well together that they almost feel like a novel.


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The Swords of Lankhmar: I adore those two rogues!

The Swords of Lankhmar by Fritz Leiber

I never get tired of Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser — I adore those two rogues! In The Swords of Lankhmar (a full novel rather than the usual story collection), the boys have been hired as guards for a fleet of grain shipments because several ships have recently disappeared. Aboard the ship they meet a couple of enchanting women who are escorting a troupe of performing rats across the sea. Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser soon discover that these are not ordinary women,


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Swords and Ice Magic: The sixth Lankhmar collection

Swords and Ice Magic by Fritz Leiber

“I am tired, Gray Mouser, with these little brushes with death.”
“Want a big one?”
“Perhaps.”

Swords and Ice Magic is the sixth collection of Fritz Leiber’s stories about Fafhrd the big northern Barbarian and his small thieving companion the Gray Mouser. The stories in the LANKHMAR series have generally been presented in chronological order, so we’re nearing the end of Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser’s adventures in Nehwon and its famous city Lankhmar.


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The Knight and Knave of Swords: Goodbye, Fafhrd and Gray Mouser!

The Knight and Knave of Swords by Fritz Leiber

The Knight and Knave of Swords is the last collection of Fritz Leiber’s LANKHMAR stories about those two loveable rogues, Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser. I had read all of the LANKHMAR stories up to this point but it took me a while to open this book because I just wasn’t ready for it to be over. Neil Gaiman says something similar in his introduction to The Knight and Knave of Swords and I’m sure that most of Leiber’s fans feel the same way.


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The Ghost Light: Several of Leiber’s award-winning stories

The Ghost Light by Fritz Leiber

Fritz Leiber’s The Ghost Light, recently produced in audio format by Audible Frontiers, is a collection of nine short stories and novelettes and an autobiographical essay by Fritz Leiber. Only the first novelette, “The Ghost Light,” and the essay, “Not so Much Disorder and Not so Early Sex: an Autobiographical Essay,” are original to this collection. Most of the previously printed stories were nominated for, or won, major SFF awards. Here’s what you’ll find in The Ghost Light:

  • “The Ghost Light” — Young Tommy and his parents are visiting Cassius,

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The Black Gondolier: Horror stories by Fritz Leiber

The Black Gondolier by Fritz Leiber

The Black Gondolier is a collection of horror stories by Fritz Leiber. I love Leiber’s LANKHMAR stories — they’re some of my very favorites in fantasy literature — and I’ve enjoyed several of Leiber’s short stories and one of his horror novellas, so I figured I might enjoy The Black Gondolier.

I found The Black Gondolier to be, as we so often say when reviewing a story collection, “a mixed bag.” I love Leiber’s style in all of these stories — he’s got a great ear and I love the way he uses language.


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Strange Wonders: A Collection of Rare Fritz Leiber Works

Strange Wonders: A Collection of Rare Fritz Leiber Works by Fritz Leiber

Strange Wonders is an eclectic collection of Fritz Leiber‘s lesser-known stories, poems, fragments, rough drafts, and daily writing exercises collected by Benjamin Szumskyj who, in his introduction, admits that he’s not certain Leiber actually would have approved of their publication. He justifies himself by explaining that because Leiber didn’t destroy the material (which was mostly printed on cheap typing paper) before his death, he knew it would be found and possibly exposed some day.


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SHORTS: Miller, Leiber, Clement, Brackett

SHORTS: In this week’s column we review several short fiction works that we’ve read recently, including three more of the current Retro Hugo nominees from 1943.

“Galatea” by Madeline Miller (2013, $3.99 on Kindle; anthologized in xo Orpheus, edited by Kate Bernheimer)

In the Roman myth of Pygmalion and Galatea, a sculptor creates a statue so beautiful that he falls in love with it. Aphrodite has mercy on him and turns the statue into a real woman,


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Weird Tales: 32 Unearthed Terrors

Weird Tales: 32 Unearthed Terrors edited by Stefan R. Dziemianowicz, Robert Weinberg & Martin Greenberg

Though hardly a runaway success in its day, and a publication that faced financial hardships for much of its existence, the pulp magazine known as Weird Tales is today remembered by fans and collectors alike as one of the most influential and prestigious. Anthologies without number have used stories from its pages, and the roster of authors who got their start therein reads like a “Who’s Who” of 20th century horror and fantasy literature.


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Weird Tales: The Magazine That Never Dies

Weird Tales: The Magazine that Never Dies edited by Marvin Kaye

Marvin Kaye’s Weird Tales: The Magazine That Never Dies anthology from 1988 takes a slightly different tack than its earlier sister volume, Weird Tales: 32 Unearthed Terrors. Whereas the editors of that earlier collection chose to select one story from each year of the magazine’s celebrated 32-year run (1923-1954), Kaye has decided here to not just limit himself to the periodical’s classic era of 279 issues, but to also include tales from each of the four latter-day incarnations of “The Unique Magazine”


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Rivals of Weird Tales: Nary a clinker in the bunch!

Rivals of Weird Tales edited by Robert Weinberg, Stefan R. Dziemianowicz & Martin H. Greenberg

From 1923 – ’54, over the course of 279 issues, the pulp publication known as Weird Tales helped to popularize macabre fantasy and outré horror fiction, ultimately becoming one of the most influential and anthologized magazines of the century, and introducing readers to a “Who’s Who” of American authors. I had previously read and reviewed no fewer than six large collections of tales culled from the pages of “the Unique Magazine,” and had loved them all.


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Weird Tales: Seven Decades of Terror: Another wonderful collection from “The Unique Magazine”

Weird Tales: Seven Decades of Terror edited by John Betancourt & Robert Weinberg

This is the seventh anthology that I have reviewed that has been drawn from the pages of Weird Tales, one of the most famous pulp magazines in publishing history. Each of the previous collections had employed its own modus operandi in presenting its gathered stories. Weird Tales (1964) and Worlds of Weird (1965) had been slim paperbacks featuring previously uncollected stories. The Best of Weird Tales: 1923 (1997) had spotlighted tales solely from WT’s very first year.


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The Weird: A Compendium of Strange and Dark Stories

The Weird: A Compendium of Strange and Dark Stories edited by Ann and Jeff VanderMeer

I haven’t actually read every page of The Weird: A Compendium of Strange and Dark Stories, yet I’m giving it my highest recommendation. Edited by Ann and Jeff VanderMeer, Master and Mistress of Weird, The Weird is 1126 pages long and should really be considered a textbook of weird fiction. It contains 110 carefully chosen stories spanning more than 100 years of weird fiction.


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Fantasy Super Pack #1: Something for everyone

Fantastic Stories Presents: Fantasy Super Pack #1 edited by Warren Lapine

Fantasy Super Pack #1 , which is available for 99c in Kindle format, is an enormous collection of 34 stories presumably showcasing the taste of the editor of Fantastic Stories of the Imagination, an online magazine. As I’m interested in submitting to the magazine, I picked it up, and thoroughly enjoyed most of the stories, none of which I remembered reading before though I’d heard of several of them.

I like stories that have a narrative arc,


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Next SFF Author: Stina Leicht
Previous SFF Author: Ursula K. Le-Guin

We have reviewed 8312 fantasy, science fiction, and horror books, audiobooks, magazines, comics, and films.

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