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The Past | The Previous

Fritz Leiber at the Library of America

The Library of America has put up a bunch of pages relating to their release of old science fiction books. There are introductions to books by Neil Gaiman, William Gibson, and James Morrow, to name just a few, and they introduce work by James Blish, Alfred Bester, and Fritz Leiber, to go in reverse--and it's pretty sweet, and in the case of Leiber actually includes his own introduction to the Big Time:

I hadn’t written anything for four years, my longest dry spell. I knew from experience that at such times a first-person story is the easiest way to break silence––it solves the problem of what you can tell and what you can’t, whereas in a third-person story you can bring in anything, an embarrassment of riches, and I determined that my next story would be in the intensified first person of Joyce Cary.

I’ve always been fascinated by time-travel tales in which soldiers are recruited from different ages to serve side by side in one war––there’s something irresistible about putting a Doughboy, a Hussar, a Landsknecht and a Roman Legionary in one tent––and it’s also exciting to think of a war fought in and across time, where battles can actually change the past (one of the truly impossibles, but who knows? Olaf Stapledon wrote about swinging it)––it’s an old minor theme in science fiction; I remember stories by Ed Hamilton and, I think, Jack Williamson. I determined to write such a story and to put the emphasis on the soldiers rather than on the two (or More?) warring powers. Those would be big and shadowy, so you couldn’t be altogether sure which side you were fighting on and at the very best you’d have only the feeling that you were defending something bad against something worse––the familiar predicament of man.


Sweet stuff, there. Well worth the click if you're interested in some of the old SF work.

Link.