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The Big Time (Change War #1)

3.29 of 5 stars 3.29  ·  rating details  ·  1,734 ratings  ·  149 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 1958)
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Mark
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
Trin
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
Stephen
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)
Tony
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
Gary
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]

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
Henrik
(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.

Okay--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
Corey
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
...more
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
Mark
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
...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
John
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
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
Karin
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
Erik
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
Michael Burnam-fink
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
...more
Angela
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
...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
Denis
A strange little book. Written in 1958, it is far ahead of it's 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.
Tecni
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
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
...more
Hector
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
...more
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.
Perry Whitford
Greta is an Entertainer succoring Soldiers in the Change War, a Demon whose lifeline has been been cut, part of 'a Foreign Legion of time, a strange kind of folk, bright but always in the background, with built-in nostalgia and cynicism'.

The Recuperation Station in which she serves with five others is outside of space-time, part cabaret nightclub, part health farm and part brothel; the Soldiers are Demons from all epochs past and present, including a Roman, a Nazi, a female Cretan warrior, an En
...more
Amanda
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
David
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.
Dustin
An decent mystery, a well written main character, and a neat setting. I can definitely see why this won a Hugo.
Mike
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
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Goodreads Librari...: Book Descriptions in Portuguese, Swedish, and German 13 64 Jun 29, 2014 12:40AM  
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23001
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)

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