The Big Time
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The Big Time (Change War #1)

3.29 of 5 stars 3.29  ·  rating details  ·  1,339 ratings  ·  122 reviews
Fritz Leiber (1910-1992) may be best known as a fantasy writer, but he published widely and successfully in the horror and science fiction fields. One of his major SF creations is the Change War, a series of stories and short novels about rival time-traveling forces locked in a bitter, ages-long struggle for control of the human universe where battles alter history and the...more
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Published (first published January 1st 1882)
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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...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...more
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
(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;...more
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...more
Mar 24, 2008 Gary rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
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]

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...more
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
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...more
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
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...more
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  ·  review of another edition
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...more
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...more
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...more
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...more
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
Lis Carey
Greta Forzane is an Entertainer, a sort of USO worker for the soldiers fighting in the Change War, a mighty struggle to determine the course of history. The controlling forces in this war are known to their human forces only as Spiders and Snakes; Greta's with the Spiders. She works in an R&R facility for Spider forces coming off rough duty. Some soldiers arrive straight from combat, and then some more arrive, this time non-humans, bringing an atomic bomb intended for use in changing the out...more
Dale Lane
The idea behind the story is summed up on the first page:

This war is the Change War, a war of time travelers — in fact, our private name for being in this 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 or more years from now. A long killing business, believe me.

You don't know about the Change War, but it's influencing your lives all the time and maybe you've had hint
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
Neil Fein
The Change War has been going on for along time now, an eternal conflict of altering history on many planets between two groups called the Spiders and the Snakes. Greta is an "entertainer" for the Spiders, a hostess of sorts at an R&D station for change war soldiers. When the entire station is threatened with destruction... well, you'd think a lot of character would be revealed, but actually, you'd be wrong.

Perhaps this style of writing was revolutionary in the 60s (or the 50s), but Mr. Lieb...more
Conocí la obra de Leiber con "Crónicas del Gran Tiempo", Una colección de cuentos sobre la Guerra del Cambio. Quedé enganchado con el tema, y la imaginación del autor. Por mucho tiempo estuve a la búsqueda de "El Gran Tiempo", la única novela que escribió sobre el tema. Y cuando por fin la encontré, no pude creer lo decepcionante que fue. Como leí en una crítica por ahí, es una novela con personajes anodinos y en la que no sucede nada. Y eso es horrible, sobre todo pensando en la temática. Creo...more
Kat  Hooper
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...more
Hugo winner 1958.

This books is time travel without the time. It takes place in the 'Place'. Super creative name. The Place is apparently a refuge outside of space and time for operatives fighting in a war that stretches across time. These operatives are people plucked from their timeline right before their deaths. So you end up with a whole bunch of time-displaced people hanging out outside of time and space. And okay, I admit it, I ended up picturing the Place as some weird Tardis. There's a wa...more
Can I nominate this for worst Hugo award winner to replace They'd Rather Be Right?

The thing I hated most about this book was the narrator. She was some twenty-something ditzy, push-over of a 50's stereotype. And you get to listen to her talk about boys and gossip and stuff, all in first person, for the entire book.

So the book is set in a Place outside time where soldiers fighting the time war go to hang out with women. At first I thought they were nurses, but really they're more like prostitut...more
As a reader I cannot see why this won the 1958 Hugo Award, but his fellow science fiction writers of the time thought it was a big deal. The basic premise of the story is time travel. The "Big Time" refers to a time continuum outside of time where soldiers of the Change War battle in attempts to change the future by going back in time and altering history.

So I get that this is a cool idea. I have also noticed that Heinlein, Asimov and others were writing time travel stories in the 1950s. But th...more
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Goodreads Librari...: Book Descriptions in Portuguese, Swedish, and German 13 49 Jun 29, 2014 12:40AM  
  • They'd Rather Be Right
  • A Case of Conscience (After Such Knowledge, #4)
  • This Immortal
  • Who?
  • Where Late the Sweet Birds Sang
  • Dreamsnake
  • No Enemy but Time
  • Past Master
  • Cyteen (Unionside, #2)
  • Way Station
  • The Year of the Quiet Sun
  • The Snow Queen (The Snow Queen Cycle, #1)
  • Double Star
  • A Time of Changes
  • The Healer's War
  • The Falling Woman
  • The Enemy Stars
  • Stations of the Tide
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...
Swords and Deviltry (Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser, #1) Swords Against Death (Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser, #2) Swords in the Mist (Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser, #3) Swords Against Wizardry (Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser, #4) Ill Met in Lankhmar (Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser, #1-2)

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