Charles's Reviews > The Leiber Chronicles: Fifty Years Of Fritz Leiber

The Leiber Chronicles by Fritz Leiber
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Apr 24, 2012

it was ok
bookshelves: fantasy
Recommended for: Aspiring copy-editors as an exercise in copy-editing
Read from March 28 to April 30, 2012

I play Dungeons & Dragons. I’ve played Dungeons & Dragons since I was knee high to a duergar. If you don’t know what a duergar is, you probably don’t play Dungeons & Dragons; if you do know what a duergar is and you don’t play Dungeons & Dragons, you are either well-versed in the world’s mythologies or wikipedia. All of this to say that my introduction to Fritz Leiber’s work was the “Nehwon Mythos” section of TSR’s Deities & Demigods (later Legends & Lore; and yes, I have at one time or another owned both versions of this book. AND I had the rare printing of Deities & Demigods with the Cthulu and Melnibone mythos, which I got rid of. So what.)

I always thought that Lankhmar was a good name for a fantasy city, but never delved into it through D&D or otherwise until recently, when I picked up The Leiber Chronicles: Fifty Years of Fritz Leiber edited by Martin H. Greenberg and published by Dark Harvest Press in 1990. The fact that this anthology, which is riddled with typos like “spaceshit” (I kid you not; it’s somewhere in the mediocre story “Endfray of the Ofay”), made it onto the shortlist for the World Fantasy Award for Best Collection, must reflect the importance of Fritz Leiber to the genre, because anything that goes to press with this number of errors should only be on the shortlist for Shit.

All of this to say that, as my non-D&D introduction to Fritz Leiber, this volume quickly moved from being outrageous to fairly amusing as an exercise in smug derision, all the way to just a fucking chore to get through. Six hundred and one pages of words, with a guesstimated average of one typo every three pages equals WAY TOO MANY for any published work. You can do the math.

Despite the typos, the stories I’d recommend in this volume, besides the Fafhrd and Grey Mouser tales, are: “The Automatic Pistol”, “Smoke Ghost”, “Sanity”, “Alice and the Allergy”, “Rump-Titty-Titty-Tum-Tah-Tee” (probably not about what you think it’s about, you dirty dirty dirtmonger), “The Beat Cluster”, and “Gonna Roll the Bones”. The ones that I would unread if I could: “Endfray of the Ofay” (over-the-top with both the neologisms and the inversion of social oppression) and “The 64-Square Madhouse” (a tedious story about chess and a dated story about supercomputers).

All in all, it’s a bad collection only because of the irresponsible job that the editor, Martin H. Greenberg, executed on the text. Would I finish this book if it wasn’t plagued with inexcusable errors? Maybe, but it is a bit long. It’s not really intended as an introduction, I realize now, too late (what’s that? Yes, yes, I know, the subtitle does say Fifty Years of Fritz Leiber. Leave me alone.), but was more likely intended for collectors and dedicated Leiber fans. Will I finish it as it is, with its written stuttering, word salads, and dyslexia? I doubt it. If I do, it will be less from enjoyment than from stubbornness; however, I’m only two-thirds of the way through this travesty and have already started reading another book, a book which has reminded me that reading should be pleasurable and rewarding, not an exercise of will.

Yeah, I probably won’t move past “Endfray of the Ofay”. I blame Martin H. Greenberg and whatever lazy sack he hired as a copy-editor.
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