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The Big Time (Change War #1)

3.29  ·  Rating Details  ·  2,117 Ratings  ·  183 Reviews
Have you ever worried about your memory, because it doesn't seem to recall exactly the same past from one day to the next? Have you ever thought that the whole universe might be a crazy, mixed-up dream? If you have, then you've had hints of the Change War.

It's been going on for a billion years and it will last another billion or so. Up and down the timeline, the two sides-
Paperback, 128 pages
Published March 7th 2001 by Orb Books (first published 1958)
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Apr 03, 2016 Brad rated it really liked it
1958 Hugo winner, and what an interesting surprise!

This is the Cure for the Common (modern) SF. Tired of the old rehashing of drawn-out plots and over-deep character explorations full of pathos, pathos, and more pathos? Then pick this one up. See the universes without being a Space Opera, enjoy the perks of touching all time without a time lord in sight. Drink your favorite alcohol and listen to your neighbor wax poetic. And oh yeah, don't get caught in the war across all Time. (The title of th
Jun 08, 2013 Mark rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The Big Time by Fritz Leiber

Published 1958 in Galaxy Magazine, novel 1961. (Edition Read: Ace Books, (1961), 130 pages)

Winner of the Hugo Award for Best Novel in 1958.

Review by Mark Yon

This is one of those reviews I occasionally do about older books, perhaps a little forgotten.

It came about because I was thinking the other day about past Hugo winners, following a discussion over at SFFWorld about the 2013 nominees. That gave way to my remembering that, in my teens, there was a time when I ambiti
Oct 23, 2012 Tony rated it it was ok
Shelves: science-fiction
THE BIG TIME. (1958). Fritz Leiber. **.
Although this novel was the winner of the Hugo Award in 1959, I found it to be almost impossible to follow. In general, it is the story of a shifting array of warriors from a variety of times who are sent both forward and backward in time to fight battles that will change the course of history. The warriors are divided into two different camps, the Spiders and the Snakes. They were snatched from battles of their times just before they were killed and then
May 01, 2008 Trin rated it did not like it
A bunch of wooden, unconvincing characters—refugees, in a sense, from the Time War—are stuck in the Place together, a safe space outside of time that’s used for soldiers’ R&R. Except the Place has been sabotaged, and there’s a bomb and possibly a traitor in their midst and blah blah blah…man, this was boring. The characters, as I said, had all the texture and depth of my cardboard Spike stand-up, the plot was rather half-assed, and the whole thing just felt very juvenile, like the sort of st ...more
4.0 stars. A brilliantly conceived novel of an eternity spanning "Change War" between two extremely powerful, and extremely mysterious, groups. Arguably Fritz Leiber's best novel. Recommended!!

Winner: Hugo Award for Best Science Fiction Novel (1958)
Nominee: British Science Fiction Award (Retro) for Best Novel (1958)
Nov 07, 2007 Henrik rated it liked it
(I have an old Ace Books edition that can't be found here, *sigh*, so I added this edition, since it looks the closest to mine.)

This is supposed to be one of Leiber's best, with a lot of philosophical stuff in the action... So I am looking forward to reading it now:-)

More later.


I have read this book now, and I am in two minds. On the one hand it is a highly intelligent and an impressively weaved story evolving around a unique blend of philosophical ideas & "hip" 1950s/60s sci-fi;
Mar 20, 2016 Denis rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A strange little book. Written in 1958, it is far ahead of its time as far as style. It reads like a "new wave" novel written by say, Philip Josee Framer, Brunner or even Vonnagut (but he would have taken it much farther). It must be read at least twice (for me three times), to get the gist. At first reading, it was over just when I finally thought I might have gotten what was going on.

A brilliant SF book.

While reading this, I thought, what a great and unique stage play this would make.
M Hamed
Oct 28, 2015 M Hamed rated it did not like it
Shelves: 2015, hard-sci-fi
what does he wants to say ?
is this a mystery novel
is it time travel

is it philosophical depute about faith and doubt ,war and peace , what love can make us do

what the fuck is it !!!!!
Stephen Brooke
Dec 18, 2012 Stephen Brooke rated it really liked it
Shelves: science-fiction
Other critics than I have pointed out that ‘The Big Time’ is as much a play as a novel. Leiber consciously created a stage, the ‘Place’, with actors coming, going, and making their speeches (sometimes intentionally stilted). Both the action and characterization are often presented in a dramatic shorthand. Do not expect a naturalistic novel here.

Life is a cabaret, old chum. And so is the premise of this book, set in an R&R center for warriors weary of their part in a never-ending conflict acr
Mar 24, 2008 Gary rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: anyone
i was secretary to this brilliant human being, and this is my personal favorite book of all of his remarkable titles. [the 'change wars' cycle has other goodies too]

Kelsey Cretcher
Aug 03, 2016 Kelsey Cretcher rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
(4/63) In my Hugo Read-Through
The Big Time by Fritz Leiber won the fourth Hugo Award for novel in 1958. It’s my fourth stop on my read-through and so far, my least favorite.
This book... frustrated me to no end, I was extremely disappointed and the back is hilariously wrong at it's description.

For those who haven't read my reviews, I'm very rambling and don't always have a clear path in my thoughts, however it's my honest rant style opinion of the book, so hopefully someone will appr
Mike Moore
Nov 17, 2011 Mike Moore rated it liked it
Ah the joys of pulp. One can just picture Fritz working frantically through a weekend to make deadline on this thing: throwing ideas around with reckless haste, recognizing a line as a clunker and just moving on, abandoning thoughts without revising them out of the manuscript because there's no time for perfection, dammit! Rent's due!

At least, that's how I imagine it. This book is decidedly slap-dash, half-baked and all over the place. And yet, I give it a lot more credit than some well polished
Jul 29, 2008 Mark rated it liked it
The Big Time is a fairly inscrutable novel, burdened by a concept far too large for its scant 140 pages. Yet, for all of its flaws -- a poorly voiced narrator, a cast of quickly sketched characters, an antiquated understanding of gender relations -- there's something bizarrely compelling about this book. It is, after all, the story of a war that spans all of time and extends to every corner of the universe, but is set entirely in a single room. Crediting Leiber with audacity alone, The Big Time ...more
At 130 pages, The Big Time by Fritz Leiber is a deceptively short novel, but the concepts delved into were heavy and complicated. That is probably why it took me two weeks to read 130 pages. This was not helped by Mr. Leiber’s dialogue. Don’t get me wrong this book was very well written, and that was part of the problem. The characters are all ESL or from centuries past and although they all (mostly) speak English, it is written in a stilted way that at times make it hard to understand the chara ...more
-Instantánea breve e inconexa de algo mayor, pero que tendremos que buscar en otro lugar.-

Género. Novela corta.

Lo que nos cuenta. Greta Forzane trabaja como “animadora” (formalmente, Anfitriona) en un lugar fuera del tiempo y el espacio al que acuden los soldados que luchan en el bando de las Arañas en su guerra eterna contra las Serpientes, buscando recreo y esparcimiento para recuperarse de las consecuencias de su lucha. La llegada de tres de esos soldados, reclutados en distintos momentos de
Oct 10, 2014 Corey rated it did not like it
Man, I couldn't get into this at all. After 40 pages I was still saying, What the f*** are you talking about?
Charles Dee Mitchell
Jul 29, 2012 Charles Dee Mitchell rated it really liked it
Shelves: mid-century-sf
The universe is at war. Leiber's short novel is set, on one level, in the later part of the 20th century, but it seems that war has been going of forever. Here is how Greta Forzane, our narrator, states things.

This war is the Change War, a war of time travelers -- in fact, our private name for being in the war is being on the Big Time. Our soldiers fight by going back to change the past, or even ahead to change the future, in ways to help our side win the final victory a billion years or more fr
Larry Daffner
Jan 26, 2016 Larry Daffner rated it it was ok
Shelves: hugo-winners
A time travel novel where we don't see any time travel, a character study with very little character, and a tense thriller with very little thrill or tension. This book is technically well done - it tells a story efficiently, but that story doesn't seem to have much of a point. It feels more like background material for a better novel.
Jun 03, 2014 Amanda rated it liked it
The book is less about time-travel, and more a type of scifi game of Clue, with everyone trapped in a waystation instead of a house trying to figure out who turned off the machine that connects them to the galaxy, rather than solve a murder.

The book takes place entirely within the waystation. The waystation exists outside of time to give the time soldiers a place to recuperate without the pressures of time travel. All but one of the soldiers are men, and most of the Entertainers are women. The o
Jul 02, 2010 John rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Kat  Hooper
Sep 02, 2010 Kat Hooper rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audiobook
ORIGINALLY POSTED AT Fantasy Literature.

The Place is a recuperation station outside of space and time where Spider soldiers in The Change War go for rest and relaxation between operations. This war has been going on between The Spiders and The Snakes since the beginning of time and Soldiers have been drafted (resurrected) into "The Big Time" from many points in history. From outside of time, they can plunge in at crucial moments and manipulate events to serve their cause, or they can change thin
Drew Perron
Sep 25, 2014 Drew Perron rated it it was amazing
This is a fascinating book. First off, it's one of the first to include the concept of a Time War - and fans of more recent fictional renderings would do well to check it out; it's a pretty solid piece of science fiction.

Second, it's very much unlike most of what was being published at the time. Rather than focusing on the details of huge, clanking ideas to the detriment of character and the fossilization of plot, it uses the big ideas as a way to set up a very specific situation and let the cha
I can't think of a better way to start off the Hugo's than this story. Set in The Piano Bar at the End of the Universe, this is a simple, short book that left me feeling completely decompressed from some of the extremely dense books I've been reading lately while still being excited for science fiction. The incorporation of strange technologies and aliens reminded me of the feeling I get when I'm watching a good Star Trek episode, one where they aren't trying to technobabble a science-y explanat ...more
Debby Kean
I loved this book for many years, from when I first read it in my teens until probably now. I am reading it for the 8th time (or even more ) and I am disappointed. I see it now as a seething mass of prejudices sexism being the main one. What I thought was exciting now just seems flamboyantly OTT.
Overall, I was disappointed although I still quite liked it!
Nov 01, 2011 Erik rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: hugo
There are some absolutely fantastic ideas in this book. Any fan of time travel owes it to themselves to read this novel. It actually inspired my first sf short story, never published.

Clever ending.

I also loved that it took place in about three rooms. It has a real theater-stage sensibility to it. It would work fantastically as a one-act play.

Re: the cover, I must say that I adore it. This cover (the iconic golden-yellow one, with the spider and snake) is an absolute triumph of graphic design. On
Mick Kelly
Jun 21, 2016 Mick Kelly rated it liked it
I first read this book when I was a teenager -some time ago! I was inspired to re-read it by reading Iain Banks' 'Transition' which is about a similar subject - what happens when different groups in possession of time-travelling ability decide to change the past?

Written in 1958, Fritz Leiber's book certainly stands the test of time (no pun intended), but also shows the marks of having been written in the 1950s. The action takes place in a bubble outside of the real world, where time-travelling
Michael Burnam-fink
Jun 14, 2015 Michael Burnam-fink rated it it was ok
Shelves: sci-fi, 2015, hugo-award
The Big Time is a novel of ambitious ideas held back by a flimsy plot, and frankly terrible characters.

The epynomymous 'Big Time' is a cosmological war between Snakes and Spiders, fought using time travel across billions of years of history. The two sides recruit human beings as soldiers and agents, snipping their timelines to turn them into Demons, Ghosts, and Dopplegangers. Anachronistic teams of warriors alter history at critical points, trying to ensure the Change Winds lead to the "right" f
Dec 19, 2014 Angela rated it did not like it
Ugh. Insipid. Read this in one sitting. Could have spent that time doing something else. Like staring into space, mentally organizing my taxes, maybe just counting numbers to see how high I could go.

Basic premise: Undead, semi-dead, alternatively-alive protagonists live in The Place, where they are Entertainers to Soldiers fighting in the great Change War. The Change War is a big cosmic time-space war, where the "Spiders" (good?) fight the "Snakes" (bad?) by constantly altering timelines. Dead p
Matt Lee Sharp
Jul 07, 2014 Matt Lee Sharp rated it liked it
Shelves: scifi
The Big Time was frustrating because it was a good book that could've been so much better. The characters are engaged in a war throughout time, each side jumping in and out of "the small time" of earth's history to change events in their favor, though that story gets little play as the side we're following gets stuck in their little pocket of a relief station outside of existence. The The book turns into a bit more of a bottle episode / murder mystery. It was published originally as a magazine s ...more
Apr 29, 2015 Tecni rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Supongo que habría que ponerlo en su contexto, con la 2ª Guerra Mundial mucho más reciente que ahora, para encontrarle sal y pimienta a esta narración; visto con la óptica actual, es un poco soso. Que sí, que tiene nazis, una ciencia-ficción blandengue y algunos alienígenas medio molones, pero su literatura es bastante inconexa, con un estilo más propio de un taller de adolescentes que de una persona a la que se concedió un galardón de los más altos en su categoría. Los personajes carecen de pro ...more
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Goodreads Librari...: Book Descriptions in Portuguese, Swedish, and German 13 64 Jun 29, 2014 12:40AM  
  • They'd Rather Be Right
  • A Case of Conscience (After Such Knowledge, #4)
  • This Immortal
  • The Mule: From Foundation And Empire
  • No Enemy But Time
  • Where Late the Sweet Birds Sang
  • The Falling Woman
  • Dreamsnake
  • The Year of the Quiet Sun
  • Stations of the Tide
  • The Enemy Stars
  • Double Star
  • The Quantum Rose (Saga of the Skolian Empire, #6)
  • Way Station
  • Downbelow Station (The Company Wars, #1)
  • The Paradox Men
  • Starchild Trilogy
  • The Healer's War
Fritz Reuter Leiber, Jr. was one of the more interesting of the young writers who came into HP Lovecraft's orbit, and some of his best early short fiction is horror rather than sf or fantasy. He found his mature voice early in the first of the sword-and-sorcery adventures featuring the large sensitive barbarian Fafhrd and the small street-smart-ish Gray Mouser; he returned to this series at variou ...more
More about Fritz Leiber...

Other Books in the Series

Change War (4 books)
  • The Mind Spider and Other Stories
  • Changewar
  • The Big Time / The Mind Spider and Other Stories

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