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The Big Time

First published in 1958 by Ace as a Paperback

Originally serialized in Fantastic in in 1958. It is part of the Changewar, a series of stories written by Leiber charting the various battles of the Snakes and the Spiders, two sides fighting a war across time. It won a Hugo in 1957. It was performed as a play at the Babcock Theatre in Salt Lake City in 1982.

Rather wonderfully, you can read the book for free over at Project Gutenberg available.

There are plenty of excellent reviews online.

Review at Yellow and Creased

Review at SFF World

Review at Dreaming of Other Worlds

Review at SF Reviews

Review of the audiobook at SFF Audio

Review at Couch to Moon

There is a free Libravox Audiobook available.

The always interesting Neil Gaiman talks about the Big Time over at The Library of America

“The Big Time, few comparable tour de force exist anywhere in literature…being such a virtuoso performance it doesn’t seem to have had any followers. I admit to keeping it in mind while writing my own ‘A Midsummer Tempest’, but cannot claim that that employs the dramatic unities as the former book did. Evidently nobody in our field can match Fritz Leiber here.”

Poul Anderson in ‘The Wizard of Nehwon’

“Originally published in Fantastic magazine form in 1958 (when it won a Hugo award). The so called Snakes and Spiders are opposing factions in a time war, who recruit their troops from various periods of history. This story, reads almost like a play, involves just one tiny piece of action – but a vaster background is richly suggested. Related short stories are collected in ‘The Mind Spider and Other Stories‘ and in an omnibus volume, that contains this novel, called ‘The Change War‘.

The Ultimate Guide to Science Fiction – David Pringle

Contains the following short stories (listed in alphabetical order)

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The Mind Spider and Other Stories

First published in 1961 by Ace as a Paperback

Originally printed as an Ace Double with the Big time.

I believe the Ace Double edition is the only version to contain all the stories, Try and Change the Past is missing from later editions.

Fritz’s introduction…

Years ago my window at the University of Chicago overlooked the west stands of Stagg Field. One evening I watched a lightning storm playing over the Loop.

Nature was badly off key that night. The thunder didn’t rumble or roar. It screamed faintly, four seconds after each flash. I remember thinking that if lightning could twang the rails of Chicago’s elevated tracks they might make such a sound. Several other persons heard it and shivered as I did.

Ten years later electronic experts discovered that on rare occasions lightning generates a radio signal which circles the earth and returns to its point of origin as an audible whistle. Maybe that was my scream.

But also ten years later there was built below the west stands of Stagg Field the graphite-dark atomic furnace that first released on earth the energy of the suns. Maybe the molecules felt that coming and screamed a warning.

Either way it’s a weird and wonderful world. Just consider: an infinite universe . . . stars that are living hydrogen bombs . . . trillions of atomic worlds in a grain of dust . . . jungles in a drop of water . . . black gulfs of space around each planet . . . black Freudian forests around each conscious mind—you know, I sometimes think the powers that created the universe were chiefly interested in maximizing its mystery.

That’s why I write science fiction.

Contains the following short stories (listed in alphabetical order)


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Changewar

Changewar is a 1983 collection from Ace...

The Changewar

First published in 1983 by Gregg Press as a Hardback

The Changewar is a series of short stories as well as the novel The Big Time. The similar Ace edition is titled ‘Changewar‘. Introduction by John Silversack

Contains the following short stories (listed in alphabetical order)

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