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The Big Time (Change War #1)

3.28  ·  Rating Details ·  2,317 Ratings  ·  216 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
Kindle Edition
Published (first published 1958)
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Dec 09, 2016 Lyn rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
“I don’t like spiders or snakes”

So sang country – western star Jim Stafford in his 1974 hit single. Sixteen years earlier, SFWA and Fantasy Grandmaster Fritz Leiber released his wildly fantastic time travel, extra dimensional, Hugo Award winning short novel about – spiders and snakes.

These spiders and snakes, though, turn out to be two groups of billion-year-old time travel antagonists who are fighting a vast war to make subtle changes along parallel time tracks. Leiber describes a recreational
Nov 17, 2016 Apatt rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sci-fi, pre-80s-sf
In spite of being the Hugo Award winner for 1958 The Big Time is a fairly obscure title. Before proceeding with the review I can give you four reasons to read it:
1. It won a Hugo (not that all Hugo winners are good, IMO)
2. It is free to read in the public domain (e-book link / audiobook link)
3. The audio book is read by Karen Savage, surely savage by name only, she has such a pretty voice.
4. Fritz Leiber is a well-respected author from sci-fi’s Golden Age

The very pulpy and lurid book cover of th
Mar 22, 2016 Brad rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Bill  Kerwin

Hugo Award winner The Big Time (1958) is not only an enjoyable and memorable novel, but a disturbing one too. It was born, in part, from Fritz Leiber’s conception of time travel and the nature of the past. He did not believe at all in “The Butterfly Effect”; no, he believed that the past was more determined, more resilient. If you really wanted to change the future, Lieber thought, you would have to go back...again, and again, and again.

During “The Change War”, two groups of fighters—directed by
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
Apr 27, 2008 Trin rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
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
Oct 23, 2012 Tony rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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
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)
(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;
Nov 04, 2012 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 26, 2015 M Hamed rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
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 !!!!!
Aug 29, 2016 Cheryl rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I can appreciate the experiment in writing style, but I just couldn't get into this book.
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
Stephen Brooke
Dec 12, 2012 Stephen Brooke rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Jul 25, 2008 Mark rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Dec 09, 2007 Gary rated it it was amazing  ·  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]

Kelsey Cretcher
Sep 03, 2014 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 someo
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.
Oct 09, 2014 Corey rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
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
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
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
Storyline: 1/5
Characters: 3/5
Writing Style: 2/5
World: 2/5

I'm not a big fan of time travel books because they're too hard to control. Resolving the paradoxes and being consistent with principles and your own timeline, if at all possible, are difficult to do too and few time travel authors perform their duties convincingly. It is obvious here in Leiber's book that he wasn't going to be intimidated or slowed by such concerns. He brings in huge ideas with untold possibilities without any attempt to
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
Rachel (Kalanadi)
What's the point of this?

Some people get trapped in a Place in the void, cut off from a time war, with an armed atomic bomb, and they talk a lot about the war and whether it's a good thing or not they're trapped.

This short novel is imaginatively staged like a play. The "Place" is a theater stage, and the characters interact and speak as if they are in a play, which makes for some interesting dialogue, and what comes across as "stilted" - though this didn't bother me. It's like reading a Shakespe
Jun 05, 2012 Karin rated it it was amazing
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
-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
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.
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
César Bustíos
Discúlpame Fritz, esto no ha sido bueno.

Esta novela fue ganadora del premio Hugo en 1958. Viajes a través del tiempo, la Guerra del Cambio, Arañas contra Serpientes, el Lugar, el Sustentador, el Vacío, ingredientes más que suficientes para una excelente historia, la cual, en general, es buena y me ha gustado. Son los detalles, todo está en los detalles.

Me hubiera gustado poder disfrutarla tanto como hubiera querido, se me hizo casi imposible seguirle el ritmo desde el primer capítulo con ese bom
Drew Perron
Sep 25, 2014 Drew Perron rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
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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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“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".” 3 likes
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