Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “The Big Time” as Want to Read:
The Big Time
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

The Big Time (Change War #1)

3.29 of 5 stars 3.29  ·  rating details  ·  1,566 ratings  ·  139 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)
more details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about The Big Time, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about The Big Time

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  rating details
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
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)
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
Stephen Brooke
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
(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 24, 2008 Gary rated it 5 of 5 stars
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]

Man, I couldn't get into this at all. After 40 pages I was still saying, What the f*** are you talking about?
Kelsey Cretcher
(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
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
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
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
Charles Dee Mitchell
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
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
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
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
Andrew Perron
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
Sino fuera porque Las Crónicas del Gran Tiempo es uno de mis libros favoritos de ciencia ficción probablemente me sentiría menos decepcionado. Y es que en esta novela nada funciona, desde la forma de la narración a través de un personaje con el cual es imposible conectar hasta el "misterio" que se desarrolla en la segunda parte del libro.
El estilo narrativo es demasiado dramático tirando demasiado a obra de teatro (Leiber hace muchas alusiones a Shakespeare dentro de sus historias de la Guerra
Larry Daffner
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.
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
Zachary Jernigan
OBJECTIVE RATING (my best stab at looking at the book's merits, regardless of whether or not I enjoyed it all that much): 3.5

PERSONAL RATING (how much the book "worked" for me personally): 3
Mar 09, 2007 David rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: All.
12 Monkeys, La Jettee, Time Bandits -- this book is the outline for all subsequent time-travel works. Plus, it's written by my step-great grandfather. Dude was a genius. Check out all his books.
One thing I love about pulp-era sci-fi is people always seem to still act like the 50s and early 60s no matter what future the story is set in. And I say "love" in that it cracks me up but I think it makes the books harder to immerse yourself in. Leiber's fantasy is some of my favorite writing of all time. But fantasy ages better, I think.

At the time, this won the Hugo or Nebula for best novel. Maybe the concepts introduced were pretty groundbreaking at the time but it's got that sheen now of ir
This story is set in the midst of a time war; where time has been ripped apart and reassembled by changes in core events in history. Set in a place outside of space and time reserved for R&R of the soldiers, who themselves come from all across history, the story has the feeling on a staged play; all the action happening outside of the scope of the novel.

Unfortunately, it felt a little bit like too much work trying to fill in the blanks behind what the stories of the actors were outside the f
It seems like I say this a lot, but I'm not sure how to rate this book. The ideas are solid and very interesting, but the execution is a little bit terrible. Structurally, this book is a disaster. The prose itself is decent, and some sections are beautifully written, but the components don't mesh well. It's the kind of novel I would love to disassemble and re-build from the ground up. I believe there is a masterpiece in here somewhere, it's just being obscured by structural flaws and insufficien ...more
Miles Zarathustra
Great concept, terrible book. A SciFi version of "the Iceman cometh," featuring a collection of pompous rambling drunks somewhere outside of spacetime. If you ever wondered about Leiber's bouts with alcohol, this book will illustrate. Is there a plot somewhere? Does anything happen that might interest the reader? Even my nostalgia for older science fiction couldn't carry me through to the end.

If you like the concept (minus the alcohol) I recommend Asimov's "The End of Eternity" instead. Now, THA
Jeff Stockett
There is a war between beings of infinite power that rages through time and space. With the ability to travel through time, the battlefields can be anywhere from far flung planets thousands of years in the future, to ancient Greece.

The soldiers who fight these battles need a place to rest and recuperate. They need a place beyond time where they can be safe while they have their medical needs addressed. It's also a place where entertainers can bring them amusement, through song, dance, and good e
Tom Hudson
Of all the books in my Hugo/Nebula quest that I've read in the past few months, this is the one that, while I found it very difficult to sink into, was the one that most explored "BIG IDEAS". It's a very short book and it takes place on a very small stage: its entirety takes place in a set of only a few rooms. But the ideas it covers are some of the biggest and deepest I've read in a science fiction novel in a while.

The short novel takes place in "The Place", which is best compared to a rest and
Fritz Leiber's "The Big Time" really had potential as I first started to read it. Two factions, the Spiders and the Snakes, had been locked in battle for millions of years, changing major historical events throughout time.

The back cover asks things like, "Have you ever worried about your memory, because it doesn't seem to recall exactly the same past from one day to the next?" and "Have you ever thought that the whole universe might be a crazy, mixed-up dream?" We had portents of all these aweso
The Big Time is a great example of a book that was well received at the time - it won the Hugo in 1958 - but that has had its luster fade over time. Considering that that year featured, among others, Asimov's The Naked Sun, Wyndham's The Midwich Cuckoos, and Nevil Shute's On the Beach, I'm not sure the Hugo committee made the right decision even at the time. The concept of The Big Time is fascinating: a motley crew of people from various eras in history are living in a bottle ship in which soldi ...more
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 99 100 next »
topics  posts  views  last activity   
Goodreads Librari...: Book Descriptions in Portuguese, Swedish, and German 13 63 Jun 29, 2014 12:40AM  
  • They'd Rather Be Right
  • A Case of Conscience (After Such Knowledge, #4)
  • Where Late the Sweet Birds Sang
  • The Mule: From Foundation And Empire
  • This Immortal
  • Cyteen (Cyteen #1-3)
  • Dreamsnake
  • No Enemy but Time
  • Who?
  • Stations of the Tide
  • The Falling Woman
  • The Snow Queen (The Snow Queen Cycle, #1)
  • A Choice of Gods
  • Double Star
  • Venus Plus X
  • The Healer's War
  • A Time of Changes
  • Past Master
Fritz Leiber 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 various points in ...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
Swords and Deviltry (Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser, #1) Swords Against Death (Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser, #2) Swords Against Wizardry (Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser, #4) Swords in the Mist (Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser, #3) Ill Met in Lankhmar (Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser, #1-2)

Share This Book

No trivia or quizzes yet. Add some now »

“Maud chuckled proudly and Erich shouted, "Welcome back from the Void, Kamerad," and then, because he's German and thinks all parties have to be noisy and satirically pompous, he jumped on a couch and announced, "Heren und Damen, permit me to introduce the noblest Roman of them all, Marcus Vipsalus Niger".” 2 likes
More quotes…