Mike’s Prattle


Archive for September, 2006

Fritz Leiber Bibliography 1939-1944

Posted by Mike on September 20, 2006

This is mostly for my own benefit, Leiber’s first five years in publishing order, but should make up for the descriptions on the last few stories being eradicated by WordPress’s strange editing system (in fact the same thing happened today in clicking the Save and Continue Editing button, it asked me if I wanted to navigate away from the page). [EDIT: Added Gather, Darkness! which I thought was originally published in 1959]

Two Sought Adventure (aka The Jewels in the Forest) [Unknown Aug 39] First Fafhrd/Grey Mouser story, also in Two Sought Adventure (aka Swords Against Death), The Leiber Chronicles

The Automatic Pistol [Weird Tales May 40] Story about a sentient pistol, also in Night’s Black Agents, The Leiber Chronicles, Horrible Imaginings

The Bleak Shore [Unknown Fantasy Fiction Nov 40] Second F&GM story, also in Two Sought Adventure (aka Swords Against Death)

The Howling Tower [Unknown Fantasy Fiction Jun 41] Third F&GM story, ibid

They Never Come Back [Future Aug 41] Have not read, to be included in forthcoming One Station of the Way collection, otherwise uncollected

Smoke Ghost [Unknown Worlds Oct 41] Urban ghost story, also in Night’s Black Agents, The Leiber Chronicles, Smoke Ghost and Other Apparitions

The Power of the Puppets [Thrilling Mystery Jan 42] Horror story about “possessed” puppets, also in Shadows with Eyes, Smoke Ghost and Other Apparitions

The Phantom Slayer (aka The Inheritance) [Weird Tales Jan 42] Man inherits dead uncle’s apartment, supernatural happenings afoot, also in Night’s Black Agents, The Black Gondolier & Other Stories

The Sunken Land [Unknown Worlds, Feb 42] Fourth F&GM story, also in Night’s Black Agents, Two Sought Adventure (aka Swords Against Death)

The Hill and the Hole [Unknown Worlds, Aug 42] Slightly Lovecraftian horror story about a cartographic anomaly, also in Night’s Black Agents, Smoke Ghost & Other Apparitions

Spider Mansion [Weird Tales, Sep 42] Horror story about mad scientist and the result of experiments, also in The Black Gondolier & Other Stories

The Hound [Weird Tales, Nov 42] Urban horror story about supernatural hound, slightly reminiscent of Long’s “The Hounds of Tindalos,” also in Night’s Black Agents, The Leiber Chronicles, Horrible Imaginings

Thieves’ House [Unknown Worlds, Feb 43] Fifth F&GM story, also in Two Sought Adventure (aka Swords Against Death)

Conjure Wife [Unknown Worlds, Apr 43] Original novella expanded to novel form in 1953, classic dark fantasy/horror story about witchcraft, usually paired with Our Lady of Darkness (alternate title: Dark Ladies)

Gather, Darkness! [Astounding, May through Jun 43] Leiber’s novel about a totalitarian religious state, was first published in book format in 1950. Haven’t read yet.

The Mutant’s Brother [Astounding Science Fiction, Aug 43] Story about twins with psychic powers, as one tries to find the other, also in Day Dark, Night Bright

To Make A Roman Holiday [Esquire, Oct 43] Story about a gladiator forced to fight his friend, so that he might reveal a secret trick to the Roman administrator who forced the fight, also in Day Dark, Night Bright

Taboo [Astounding Science Fiction, Feb 44] Story about a killer and younger man who separately take refuge, also in Day Dark, Night Bright

Sanity (aka Crazy Wolf) [Astounding Science Fiction, Apr 44] Psychologist and patient discuss sanity in the future, also in Night of the Wolf (as Crazy Wolf), The Best of Fritz Leiber, The Leiber Chronicles

Thought [Astounding Science Fiction, Jul 44] A story about a man who can “catch” thoughts, also in Day Dark, Night Bright

Business of Killing [Astounding Science Fiction, Sep 44] Story about alternate timelines and corporate control. Perhaps a precursor to Destiny Times Three?, also in Day Dark, Night Bright


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Books/CDs Received; Fritz Leiber – “To Make A Roman Holiday,” “Taboo,” “Sanity,” “Thought,” “Business of Killing,” “Wanted – An Enemy”

Posted by Mike on September 19, 2006


  • Aleister Crowley – Moonchild


  • Alio Die – Sol Niger
  • Alio Die – Khen Introduce Silence

The rest of this message is truncated thanks to WordPress. Apparently the button “Publish” meant “Delete” today. It also managed to publish a message while keeping a duplicate of the truncated message as a draft. Strike two.

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Books/CDs Received; Fritz Leiber – Conjure Wife; “The Mutant’s Brother”

Posted by Mike on September 14, 2006


  • Caitlin R. Kiernan – Alabaster
  • Paul Di Filippo – A Mouthful of Tongues: Her Totipotent Tropicalia


  • Circulus – The Lick on the Tip of an Envelope Yet to be Sent
  • High Tide – Sea Shanties (eclectic)
  • High Tide – High Tide (eclectic)
  • Missus Beastly – Missus Beastly (garden of delights)
  • One Shot – Ewaz Vader
  • Pienza Ethnorkester – Indiens d’Europe
  • Pure Reason Revolution – The Dark Third
  • Sikth – Death of a Dead Day
  • Dungen – Ta Det Lugnt
  • Fast ‘N Bulbous – Pork Chop Blue Around the Rind
  • Charles Kaczynski – Lumiere de la Nuit
  • October Equus – October Equus
  • Sebkha Chott – Nagah Mahdi
  • Soft Machine – Grides

I’ve already spoken on a few of these over at Outer Music and there will probably be more to come.

I’d rather spend this morning talking about Fritz Leiber. I’ve been reading Leiber for ages, when I was 11 I came across the Fafhrd & Gray Mouser books/Lankhmar/Swords books. Was probably a bit too young at the time and never remembered where I left off, but I ended up reading the whole series again about a decade ago and absolutely adore it, I never cut them loose. A few years later I read “The Big Time” which I didn’t particularly care for, but then the novella “Ship of Shadows,” which I think I went over here, really blew me away. So I embarked on a mission to find everything I could at this point, which is not easy. Most Leiber short fiction is being released by Darkside Press in very limited editions, two of which, The Black Gondolier and Smoke Ghost are severely out of print (fortunately there’s a print on demand version of BG). Even in his heyday, many of Leiber’s short stories were never anthologized.

I’ve read all but one story through 1942, which should show up in an upcoming Darkside Press collection, but it seems to be 1943 when there’s a really big jump in quality. His first novel was released in the pulps at the time, called “Conjure Wife.” I believe it was updated in the 50s, so I doubt what I’m reading is probably pure 1943, mostly because it’s one of those  masterpieces that truly lives up to the hype and much better quality than everything to date. Norman Saylor is a college professor in true rational/skeptical mode who finds out that his wife is a practicing witch. When confronted with this, he tells her to get rid of everything and the couple go through the house burning various charms and such. Then all hell breaks loose as strange things start to happen, subtly at first. I won’t go into it too much more, but it’s a clever story, extremely well plotted and thought out, with a couple of chilling scares. A 12-13 on the Gnosis scale at least.

I found “The Mutant’s Brother” in the third modern Leiber hardback “Day Dark, Night Bright.” It hasn’t ever been anthologized through the years, like a lot of Leiber’s work between 1943 and 1944, but it’s a real shame because, even though it’s a bit dated by featuring a futuristic world in 1973 (September 17th the letter in the story is dated, which is my birthday :)), it’s tautly plotted with a nice premise and great end twist. Definitely better than all his stories to date. I can’t tell you how much I’m looking forward to knocking a few more Leiber stories down this weekend.

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Books/CDs Received; Poul Anderson “The Sharing of Flesh;” Harlan Ellison “The Beast That Shouted Love at the Heart of the World;” Samuel R. Delany “Time Considered as a Helix of Semi-Precious Stones;” Neil Gaiman – The Sandman Volume 3 The Dream Country; The Sandman Volume 4 Season of Mists; Richard McKenna “The Secret Place;” Lucius Shepard “The Exercise of Faith,” “The Black-Clay Boy”

Posted by Mike on September 11, 2006

  • Neil Gaiman – The Sandman Volume 4: Season of Mists
  • Grant Morrison – The Invisibles Volume 3: Entropy in the U.K.
  • Alan Moore & Kevin O’Neill – The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen Volume 1
  • Frank Miller with Klaus Janson & Lynn Varley – Batman: The Dark Knight Returns
  • Alan Moore & Dave Gibbons – Watchmen

CDs (first order in aeons)

  • Between – And the Waters Opened
  • Between – Einsteig (both reissue/remasters)
  • NeBeLNeST – ZePTO
  • Cincinatto – Cincinatto
  • Hero – Hero (both reissue/remasters)
  • Nucleus – Hemispheres

Not sure I can remember the details of half of what I’ve read but I’ll give it a whirl. The first three stories listed are the last three in the big book of Hugo Winners Vols 1 and 2, which has taken me several years to get through. The Anderson story is a neat one on cannibalism, possibly the most readable piece I’ve read by the author, someone I can’t say I’m much of a fan of. But weaving the story of the degenerated human tribe with the death of the protagonist’s loved one gave it an immediacy that kept me wanting to know what happened. I think it’s actually the second time I’ve read the Ellison story, but I was probably as impressed as I was the first time, when I went and promptly forgot about it. I like a lot of classic Ellison stories, but not really this one. The Delany I barely remember, but it reminded me of Morgan’s Altered Carbon a bit, a future world with a bit of the private detective involved.

The Sandman series gets better with every volume, the 3rd probably the most human story so far, while the 4th seems to be almost entirely about the entities that inhabit the universe. It’s hard to know what to say without spoiling anything (well at least for those who aren’t 20 years behind like me), but Gaiman’s interweaving of several mythologies (mythoses? :)) and reworking of others brings a cosmic scope to the project that begins to add serious, sublime depth to everything. Great stuff.

The McKenna award won the Nebula, the second year the award was around, but I can’t remember it at all at the moment without having the book around to jog the memory. The two Shepard stories are both strong, the first a story about a preacher of sorts, the second something of a voodoo story as a woman in the twilight of a life gone wrong tries to get revenge on those that hassle her. Both are probably good examples of how good a writer can be if this is their middle of the line work. But few of any of the shorts here really grabbed me too hard.

Starting to post a little at Outer Music again, when I get the time and inclination, so link on over on your right if you haven’t checked in in a while. It even has a new look!

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Book “15s”

Posted by Mike on September 6, 2006

Over at www.gnosis2000.net, there’s a rating system used for music that I personally use for books, even if it doesn’t always translate all that well. Anyway, for the curious, here’s all the fiction novels (or in a couple cases, linked story collections) I’d put in the very top tier:

  • Michael Shea – Nifft the Lean
  • Dan Simmons – The Rise of Endymion
  • Edward Whittemore – Quin’s Shanghai Circus
  • Lord Dunsany – Gods of Pegana
  • Umberto Eco – Foucault’s Pendulum
  • George R. R. Martin – A Clash of Kings
  • George R. R. Martin – A Storm of Swords

Yep, just seven. I’d go deeper, but most of my lower grades reflect reading preferences several years old.

I should add that for a book to be considered as highly as this, it has to have a certain post-book resonance, that is, a story or theme that stays with me long after I finished reading it. The Rise of Endymion, for example, is not a book I would have considered a 15 right off the bat, but the themes and poignancy of the book affected me for long after.

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