Fritz Leiber

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Fritz Reuter Leiber Jr. (December 24, 1910September 5, 1992) was an American writer of fantasy, horror and science fiction.


Short Fiction[edit]

Poor Superman (1951)[edit]

  • Everyone knows Newton as the great scientist. Few remember that he spent half his life muddling with alchemy, looking for the philosopher's stone. That was the pebble by the seashore he really wanted to find.

A Pail of Air (1964)[edit]

All page numbers from the mass market first edition published by Ballantine (#U2216)
  • “Life’s always been a business of working hard and fighting the cold,” Pa was saying. “The earth’s always been a lonely place, millions of miles from the next planet. And no matter how long the human race might have lived, the end would have come some night. Those things don’t matter. What matters is that life is good. It has a lovely texture, like some thick fur or the petals of flowers—you’ve never seen those, but you know our ice-flowers—or like the texture of flames, never twice the same. It makes everything else worth while. And that’s as true for the last man as for the first.”
  • To understand why George fell for this story, one must remember his stifled romanticism, his sense of personal failure, his deep need to believe. The thing came to him like, or rather instead of, a religious conversion.
  • “You are not the first to be shocked and horrified by chess,” he assured her. “It is a curse of the intellect. It is a game for lunatics—or else it creates them.”
    • “The 64-Square Madhouse” (p. 74); originally published in If, May 1962

Conjure Wife (1953)[edit]

First published in Unknown Worlds in 1943; published as a novel in 1953. All page numbers from the 2009 trade paperback edition published by Orb
  • What is superstition, but misguided, unobjective science? And when it comes down to that, is it to be wondered if people grasp at superstition in this rotten, hate-filled, half-doomed world of today? Lord knows, I'd welcome the blackest of black magic, if it could do anything to stave off the atom bomb.
    • Chapter 2 (p. 26).
  • A scientist ought to have a healthy disregard for coincidences.
    • Chapter 3 (p. 39).
  • Thoughts are dangerous, he told himself, and thoughts against all science, all sanity, all civilized intelligence, are the most dangerous of all.
    • Chapter 10 (p. 106).
  • What was life worth, anyway, if you had to sit around remembering not to mention this, that, and the other thing because someone else might be upset?
    • Chapter 11 (p. 116).
  • Things are different from what I thought. They’re much worse.
    • Chapter 20 (p. 209).

The Big Time (1958)[edit]

  • What have I always told you about Soldiers? The bigger the gripe, the smaller the cause! It is infallible!
  • I know only too well from a personal experience that is number one on my list of things to be forgotten.
  • It’s this mucking inefficiency and death of the cosmos — and don’t tell me that isn’t in the cards! — masquerading as benign omniscient authority.
  • Nations are as equal as so many madmen or drunkards.
  • In the wake of a Big Change, cultures and individuals are transposed, it’s true, yet in the main they continue much as they were, except for the usual scattering of unfortunate but statistically meaningless accidents.
  • Sometimes I wonder if our memories are as good as we think they are and if the whole past wasn’t once entirely different from anything we remember, and we’ve forgotten that we forgot.
  • Poets are wiser than anyone because they’re the only people who have the guts to think and feel at the same time.
  • Of course, if you assume a big enough conspiracy, you can explain anything, including the cosmos itself.
  • Now is a bearable burden. What buckles the back is the added weight of the past’s mistakes and the future’s fears.
  • For that matter, where did I get off being critical of anyone?

Bazaar of the Bizarre (1963)[edit]

First published in Fantastic Stories of Imagination (1963), this novelette has been reprinted in several anthologies, including The Spell of Seven (ed. L. Sprague de Camp, Pyramid Books, 1965), Bazaar of the Bizarre (Donald M. Grant, Publisher, 1978), and Ill Met in Lankhmar (White Wolf Publishing, 1995, ISBN 1-56504-926-8).

  • The Devourers are the most accomplished merchants in all the many universes — so accomplished, indeed, that they sell only trash. There is a deep necessity in this, for the Devourers must occupy all their cunning in perfecting their methods of selling and so have not an instant to spare in considering the worth of what they sell.
  • The Devourers want not only the patronage of all beings in all universes, but — doubtless because they are afraid someone will some day raise the ever-unpleasant question of the true worth of things — they want all their customers reduced to a state of slavish and submissive suggestibility, so that they are fit for nothing whatever but to gawk at and buy the trash the Devourers offer for sale.
  • The Devourers want to brood about their great service to the many universes — it is their claim that servile customers make the most obedient subjects for the gods.

The Wanderer (1964)[edit]

All page numbers from the 2000 paperback edition published by Victor Gollancz
  • I abominate any organization that denies cats are people!
    • Chapter 3.
  • It was always worth everything to get away by himself, climb a bit, and study the heavens.
    • Chapter 3 (p. 26).
  • There was always something new to be seen in the unchanging night sky.
    • Chapter 5 (p. 33).
  • They’ve heard about space but they still don’t believe in it. They haven’t been out here to see for themselves that there isn’t any giant elephant under the earth, holding it up, and a giant tortoise holding up the elephant. If I say “planet” and “spaceship” to them, they still think “horoscope” and “flying saucer”.
    • Chapter 6 (p. 37).
  • Devils may be nothing but beings intent on their purpose, which now happens to collide with yours.
    • Chapter 16 (p. 113).
  • Not for the first time Richard reflected that this age’s vaunted ‘communications industry’ had chiefly provided people and nations with the means of frightening to death and simultaneously boring to extinction themselves and each other.
    • Chapter 21 (p. 158).
  • There was an omnipresent sense of crisis.
    • Chapter 33 (p. 259).
  • The greater the variety of intelligent life Don saw, the more he became sensitive to its presence.
    • Chapter 33 (p. 259).
  • Paul stared out at the randomly scattered, lonely stars and wondered why he had always so easily accepted that they represented order.
    • Chapter 34 (p. 270).
  • Then time seemed to stop, or rather to lose its directional urgency of movement; it became a place in the open where one stood rather than a low, narrow corridor down which one was hurried.
    • Chapter 40 (p. 312).
  • The gods spend the wealth the universe gathers, they scan the wonders and fling them to nothingness. That’s why they’re the gods! I told you they were devils.
    • Chapter 42 (pp. 336-337).
  • What do you care? You always liked loneliness better than you liked people. No offence — liking yourself’s the beginning of all love.
    • Chapter 42 (p. 340).

Catch that Zeppelin! (1975)[edit]

This short story won both the 1976 Hugo Award and the 1975 Nebula Award
  • Beside me, traffic growled and snarled, rising at times to a machine-gun rata-tat-tat, while pedestrians were scuttling about with that desperate ratlike urgency characteristic of all big American cities, but which reaches its ultimate in New York.
  • There is an inescapable imperative about certain industrial developments. If there is not a safe road of advance, then a dangerous one will invariably be taken.

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