FORGOTTEN BOOKS #193: THE LEIBER CHRONICLES Edited by Martin H. Greenberg

Last Friday for Forgotten Books, Todd Mason presented a brilliant homage to a great writer: Fritz Leiber. You can read it by clicking here. Todd includes several Fritz Leiber collections in his review. But somehow my favorite Fritz Leiber collection wasn’t included which inspires today’s nomination of The Leiber Chronicles as the best Leiber collection ever published. Published in 1990 by Dark Harvest and edited by legendary anthologist Martin H. Greenberg, The Leiber Chronicles presents over 600 pages of Leiber’s best work. These 44 stories present the most balanced collection of Fritz Leiber’s genius that I’m aware of. Copies of The Leiber Chronicles are still available online at semi-reasonable prices. If you’re Fritz Leiber fan, you need to check out this wonderful collection.
TABLE OF CONTENTS:
· Two Sought Adventure [Fafhrd & Gray Mouser] · nv Unknown Aug ’39
· The Automatic Pistol · ss Weird Tales May ’40
· Smoke Ghost · ss Unknown Oct ’41
· The Hound · ss Weird Tales Nov ’42
· Sanity · ss Astounding Apr ’44
· Wanted—An Enemy · ss Astounding Feb ’45
· Alice and the Allergy · ss Weird Tales Sep ’46
· The Girl with the Hungry Eyes · ss The Girl With the Hungry Eyes, ed. Donald A. Wollheim, Avon, 1949
· The Man Who Never Grew Young · ss Night’s Black Agents, Arkham, 1947
· Coming Attraction · ss Galaxy Nov ’50
· A Pail of Air · ss Galaxy Dec ’51
· Poor Superman [“Appointment in Tomorrow”] · nv Galaxy Jul ’51
· Yesterday House · nv Galaxy Aug ’52
· The Moon Is Green · ss Galaxy Apr ’52
· A Bad Day for Sales · ss Galaxy Jul ’53
· The Night He Cried · ss Star Science Fiction Stories #1, ed. Frederik Pohl, Ballantine, 1953
· What’s He Doing in There? · ss Galaxy Dec ’57
· Try and Change the Past [Change War] · ss Astounding Mar ’58
· Rump-Titty-Titty-Tum-Tah-Tee [Simon Grue] · ss F&SF May ’58
· The Haunted Future [“Tranquility, or Else!”] · nv Fantastic Nov ’59
· Mariana · ss Fantastic Feb ’60
· The Beat Cluster · ss Galaxy Oct ’61
· The 64-Square Madhouse · nv If May ’62
· The Man Who Made Friends with Electricity · ss F&SF Mar ’62
· Bazaar of the Bizarre [Fafhrd & Gray Mouser] · nv Fantastic Aug ’63
· 237 Talking Statues, Etc. · ss F&SF Sep ’63
· When the Change-Winds Blow [Change War] · ss F&SF Aug ’64
· Four Ghosts in Hamlet · nv F&SF Jan ’65
· Gonna Roll the Bones · nv Dangerous Visions, ed. Harlan Ellison, Garden City, NY: Doubleday, 1967
· The Inner Circles · ss F&SF Oct ’67
· Ship of Shadows · na F&SF Jul ’69
· Endfray of the Ofay · ss If Mar ’69
· America the Beautiful · ss The Year 2000, ed. Harry Harrison, Garden City, NY: Doubleday, 1970
· Ill Met in Lankhmar [Fafhrd & Gray Mouser] · na F&SF Apr ’70
· The Bait [Fafhrd & Gray Mouser] · vi Whispers Dec ’73
· Midnight by the Morphy Watch · ss Worlds of If Jul/Aug ’74
· Belsen Express · ss The Second Book of Fritz Leiber, DAW, 1975
· Catch That Zeppelin! · nv F&SF Mar ’75
· The Glove · ss Whispers Jun ’75
· The Death of Princes · ss Amazing Jun ’76
· A Rite of Spring · nv Universe 7, ed. Terry Carr, Doubleday, 1977
· The Button Molder · nv Whispers Oct ’79
· Horrible Imaginings · na Death, ed. Stuart David Schiff, Playboy, 1982
· The Curse of the Smalls and the Stars [Fafhrd & Gray Mouser] · na Heroic Visions, ed. Jessica Amanda Salmonson, Ace, 1983

33 thoughts on “FORGOTTEN BOOKS #193: THE LEIBER CHRONICLES Edited by Martin H. Greenberg

  1. Todd Mason

    Thanks, sir…you are too kind. I never did pick up this book, though it is the largest single slice through Leiber’s short-fiction career yet published, in part because I was bitter. As copublisher and -editor of an admittedly slight but nonetheless actually printed magazine, with a few subscribers and all (not quite a fanzine, perhaps more an ambitious semipro) I’d tried to secure reprint rights to the three playlet autobiographical stories, which have to date (iinm) still never been published together in one site, and for a vignette which had not been reprinted at that time since its 1963 first appearance in F&SF, and Leiber’s agent simply refused to quote a price for this in 1989…since he was busy trying to shop this, as it turned out, which also sinned in at least these ways: it managed to gather only two of those voice-plays and not the vignette (and referred to “The Winter Flies” by its Ed Ferman title “The Inner Circles”…otherwise, Leiber, who was facing the last slide at about this time, had allowed it to be published only under its proper title, aside from its appearance in THE BEST FROM F&SF volume for its period); it had a less than thrilling package, I felt, and was too much like a slightly augmented version of THE BEST OF FL, albeit one which reasonably represented Leiber’s ’60s and ’70s short work and included the absolutely necessary ’40s work (aside from “Adept’s Gambit”). Also, in 1990, I was a bit strapped again…I would’ve made a point of putting together said reprint fees, but a $40 or so hardcover of material I already had in other formats wasn’t too tempting, given my residual irritation. I’d say the average quality of this one isn’t Quite up to that of THE SECRET SONGS (the title story of which is the missing play-story here), but it is otherwise very close, and that it’s the mostest of Leiber’s short fiction does definitely count for something. And this one does make a good gift for conversion purposes…

    Reply
    1. george Post author

      Wow, I didn’t know your backstory to THE LEIBER CHRONICLES. Sorry if I triggered any Bad Memories. Sooner or later, some small press will publish a complete set of Leiber’s works. White Wolf published omnibus collections of Leiber’s fantasy novels. Night Shade Books recently published a collection of Leiber’s hard-to-find work. But someone needs to bring all of it together, even in ebook format.

      Reply
  2. Todd Mason

    Yeah, White Wolf did a creditable job with the Fafhrd and Gray Mouser series, though in a sense it was mostly a hardcover recapitulation of what Ace had done. No, no, no real pain resurrected…both this book (which as I recall wasn’t the best-proofread volume ever) and the more recent SELECTED STORIES are fine collections…but you’re absolutely right, a complete works responsibly published is more than called for here.

    Reply
    1. george Post author

      I wish a small publisher or academic press would do for SF and Fantasy what the Library of America does for Literature, Todd. I would buy every volume they published.

      Reply
    1. george Post author

      I have the entire White Wolf set, Rick. I bought them one by one as they were released. I’m sure you’ll find them at ABE.com for under $10 a copy.

      Reply
    1. george Post author

      I have a fair number of Gregg Press books, Todd. But, like you, I wish I’d purchased more. They show up online with high price tags.

      Reply
  3. Drongo

    Despite a plethora of of paperback editions by various publishers, those Gregg Press hardcovers were my introduction to the Parker novels. Also my first exposure to Walter M. Miller’s short fiction. Local public library shelves used to contain a fair number of Gregg Press books 15 years ago. They seem to have vanished into the ether since then.

    Reply
  4. Carl V.

    I owe my discovery of Fritz Leiber to Mike Mignola and Dark Horse comics. Several years ago they released a graphic novel based on the first few Fafrhd stories and I enjoyed it so much I immediately bought the first reprint of the novels that Dark Horse was putting out and I’m so glad that I did. I’ve collected all the Dark Horse reprints and have read the first two, maybe three. The stories sit there with the Conan stories and the John Carter stories in my affections. They are a lot of fun. I’ve also read some other Leiber short stories that I really enjoyed and his Hugo winning The Big Time, which was far from a perfect novel but one that I nevertheless like a great deal. Its been years since I’ve read it and ever so often something will crop up that will remind me of the story.

    Reply
    1. george Post author

      For my money, THE LEIBER CHRONICLES is the best Fritz Leiber collection ever published, Carl. Of course, I have all the other paperback collections Todd Mason mentioned in his review, too. But someone needs to collect all of Fritz Leiber’s work. Maybe Night Shade Books or Subterranean…

      Reply
  5. Todd Mason

    While THE WANDERER is my least-favorite of his novels, it’s still fun. I’d say LEIBER CHRONICLES doesn’t benefit by reprinting the minor sf stories included in THE BEST OF (“Sanity” and “Wanted: An Enemy”), but again, it gains points for having the Mostest. And even the minor stories do carry the torch for Leiber’s personal pacifism.

    Reply
    1. george Post author

      I wish the stories in THE LEIBER CONTRONICLES had introductions by someone knowledgeable (like you!), Todd. Yes, it has the mostest, but no Introduction, no Afterward, no reference to his novels, it’s not perfect.

      Reply
  6. Todd Mason

    I suspect his agent might’ve been giving Greenberg agita, as well. Greenberg, after all, loved to write intros and story notes.

    Someone more knowledgeable than me! But you or I certainly could’ve done a better job than none at all. (Might be another reason I didn’t pick it up, though I hadn’t remembered that aspect.)

    Reply
  7. Johan

    Ah, I remember now! The cover art could be freely inspired from “Two Sought Adventure” (aka “The Jewels in the Forest”).

    Reply
  8. Johan

    Oh! OK, Thanks George! That was probably more exact than my recollection! “The Jewels in the Forest” had some flowing mercury that reflected the heavens similarly.

    Reply
  9. Johan

    “The Jewels in the Forest” is my favorite Fritz Leiber story, so far. Not that I have read many, . . . only from the Fafhrd & Gray Mouser books (and also, Our Lady of Darkness, a long long time ago).

    The cover art of this book is obviously most grandly delicious, and evocative. I am going to look for this collection. Only hope the infamous typos are not so bad, as to cause misunderstandings.

    Reply
    1. george Post author

      Johan, I love the cover on THE LEIBER CHRONICLES, too! THE LEIBER CHRONICLES is a must for Leiber fans, despite the typos. Copies can be found at the usual Internet book sale sites.

      Reply
  10. Mike

    So I realize this may be years to late, but Im trying to recall what I believe was a story from this book.
    It was about a man who lived on I believe the 14th floor of his apartment. At night, he would hear strange noises while he would try to sleep.
    Eventually, when he is traveling in the elevator, it… either stops short or goes to far, and opens onto a hidden 13th “floor”, which was no more than a gap.
    There, small creatures which had been making the noises he heard at night drag him into the gap. I dont remember how it ends.

    I just ordered this book, because I believe that story is found in it. If it is, would any of you happen to know the title?

    Reply
    1. george Post author

      Mike, I vaguely remember a Fritz Leiber story similar to the one you describe. I’ll root around in my basement and see if I can find the story you’re referring to. THE LEIBER CHRONICLES is a good bet.

      Reply

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>