First off… if you haven’t seen “The Big Sleep”, then go watch it. Not only is it great to see the sort of thing I like best about A. Merritt’s and Leigh Brackett’s writing translated into positively engrossing cinema, but it also explains something of the tempo and structure of the plot to Larry Correia’s Hard Magic. No, it’s not just a joke when Raymond Chandler turns up in that story…. But I get it now.
Warning: it doesn’t pass the Bechdel test!
When I did my piece on Leiber a couple weeks back, I kind of went out on a limb with some pretty strong statements. I mean they were fair, but to be making them after having read just a single novella was pushing it.
Given that, I am particularly glad to see Cirsova confirm some of what I was saying:
“Fritz Leiber is one of those writers who once you’ve read him you have to ask yourself ‘Why they hell haven’t I read this earlier?’ So, if you haven’t already read some Fafhrd and the Grey Mouser, go out and read it now!”
Meanwhile, Neal Durando is somewhat taken aback by this sudden intrusion into his lawn:
It blows my mind that so many new authors seemingly have such a shallow grasp on the idiom. It’s funny to see you discover books that I remember so well. Not to blow my own horn, but a SFF fan discovering Leiber is like, say, an English undergrad discovering Swift or Johnson.
Yeah, it’s embarrassing.
Even as a high school student, my tastes tilted towards classic. John Varley and Vernor Vinge would be among the only authors to even register as being “real” science fiction at the time. And if Fritz Leiber is not at the library and not for sale at Walden Books and nobody is talking about him in what few game related magazines that are left… then how does one encounter him in a pre-internet world? Had I been even five years older, it would have been a totally different thing.
I asked Kristine Kathryn Rusch about how this could happen, and this is what she had to say:
Two things happened. In the mid-eighties chain bookstores were small and couldn’t carry backlist or older titles. The chains edged out the independents in some neighborhoods. (Think Waldenbooks) Then the superstores came in and looked for backlist, but most of the older titles had reverted or been forgotten. But with the distribution collapse in the mid-late nineties, more backlist went OP and publishers started looking for blockbusters only. [sigh] Libraries culled their collections of older material and–voila!–obscurity.
It still breaks my heart.
So it’s not my fault, y’all. It’s not my fault!