Thumbs up for Selected Stories by Fritz Leiber. Science fiction and fantasy.
When I was about fourteen and gave my dad a few paragraphs of the fantasy novel I was writing, he gave me what I now know to be one of the greatest compliments I’ve ever received: “Your writing reminds me of Fritz Leiber.” This was, of course, a kind lie, and one which moreover went unappreciated because at the time I had never read Fritz Leiber. (Fafhrd? What the hell kind of name is that for a hero?) Well, now I have read Fritz Leiber, and yes, on my best days I can see a resemblance in my prose to his – which may not be a good thing, considering that he is now virtually unknown, despite having created the sword and sorcery genre. Yes, you read that right: He created an entire genre. And on top of being important just for that, his work is magnificent, delicious, delirious, smart, over-the-top. So please read his stuff – this book is a great place to start – and keep his name from drifting into darkness once and for all. My favorites from this collection: “A Pail of Air” is excellent sci-fi; “Gonna Roll the Bones,” which I can only describe as beautiful horror; “Ill Met in Lankhmar” is the tale of the meeting of Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser, those two seminal heroes of sword and sorcery; and because I am a sucker for humor, I am in love with “Space-Time for Springers.”
Gummitch was a superkitten, as he knew very well, with an I.Q. of about 160. Of course, he didn’t talk. But everybody knows that I.Q. tests based on language ability are very one-sided. Besides, he would talk as soon as they started setting a place for him at table and pouring him coffee. Ashurbanipal and Cleopatra ate horsemeat from pans on the floor, and they didn’t talk. Baby dined in his crib on milk from a bottle, and he didn’t talk. Sissy sat at table but they didn’t pour her coffee and she didn’t talk – not one word. Father and Mother (whom Gummitch had nicknamed Old Horsemeat and Kitty-Come-Here) sat at table and poured each other coffee and they did talk. Q.E.D.
–from “Space-Time for Springers”
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