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John Llewellyn Probert (John_l_probert)
Username: John_l_probert

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 213.253.174.81
Posted on Tuesday, August 04, 2009 - 01:11 pm:   

I'm currently going through the Midnight House editions of Mr Leiber's work. I hadn't read much of him before - only the Lankhmar books (marvellous), Our Lady of Darkness (great) and The Wanderer (not very good at all I'm afraid). Does anyone have any thoughts on his short fiction? Stories like The Black Gondolier and Smoke Ghost are wonderfully modern supernatural tales, and there's one called Lie Still Snow White, about a necrophiliac talking to his latest victim, that is outrageous and hilarious at the same time and has immediately endeared itself to me as an all-time favourite. I can't believe it saw publication back in the 1960s.
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Steve Jensen (Stevej)
Username: Stevej

Registered: 07-2009
Posted From: 82.0.77.233
Posted on Tuesday, August 04, 2009 - 01:20 pm:   

There are some interesting comments about Leiber & Our Lady of Darkness here:

http://books.google.co.uk/books?id=HG2FX7lNneMC&pg=PA136&dq=Ghost+Story+Straub+A ndriano+Fritz+Leiber+Our+Lady+of+Darkness#v=onepage&q=&f=false
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Hubert (Hubert)
Username: Hubert

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 78.21.234.133
Posted on Tuesday, August 04, 2009 - 02:01 pm:   

John, I can recommend Bruce Byfiled's study of Leiber, Witches of the Mind, a Necronomicon Press original, though I don't know whether it's still available there. Some additional comments by Byfield: http://brucebyfield.wordpress.com/2007/09/11/witches-of-the-mind/
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Joel (Joel)
Username: Joel

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 217.37.199.45
Posted on Tuesday, August 04, 2009 - 02:12 pm:   

My personal Top 20 Leiber stories might be:

The Girl With the Hungry Eyes
Smoke Ghost
The Hill and the Hole
A Bit of the Dark World
The Button Molder
Horrible Imaginings
The Hound
Dark Wings
Coming Attraction
Ill Met in Lankhmar
A Deskful of Girls
Gonna Roll the Bones
America the Beautiful
The Secret Songs
I'm Looking For 'Jeff'
Lean Times in Lankhmar
The Bleak Shore
Midnight in the Mirror World
Belsen Express
Space-Time for Springers

...and there's much more great stuff besides, scattered through many collections (try and get hold of the UK paperbacks NIGHT'S BLACK AGENTS and NIGHT MONSTERS if you can). Leiber's other supernatural novel, CONJURE WIFE, is well worth reading and I think its wry take on gender issues would delight you.

Leiber is one of a very small number of supernatural horror writers who not only excelled in the genre, but changed it. He's the master of literary modernism in weird fiction.
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Huw (Huw)
Username: Huw

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 218.168.194.127
Posted on Tuesday, August 04, 2009 - 02:14 pm:   

Fritz Leiber is one of my favourite authors, Lord P. We could really do with a nice big paperback collection of his weird short stories. I've always liked the passion and energy that shines through in much of his work, and he could come up with the most ingenious scenarios (often very funny, as well). He was also a master of creating an eerie atmosphere, and some of the images from his stories and novels will haunt me forever.

There are several medically-themed stories you may enjoy - 'In the X-ray' and 'Alice and the Allergy', for example. Some other favourites of mine (aside from the ones you mentioned) are:

'A Bit of the Dark World'.
'The Button Molder'
'A Visitor from Back East'
'Black Glass'
'Midnight in the Mirror World'
'Dark Wings'
'The Girl with the Hungry Eyes'
'Belsen Express'
'The Hill and the Hole'
'The Dreams of Albert Moreland'
'The Ghost Light'
'Black Has Its Charms'
'The Thirteenth Step'
'Gonna Roll the Bones'
'The Spider'
'Mariana'
'The Power of the Puppets'
'Richmond, Late September, 1849'
'Little Old Miss Macbeth'

'Diary in the Snow' and 'The Terror from the Depths' are good Lovecraftian tales.

If you haven't got it already, I recommend finding a copy of The Ghost Light, which contains his autobiographical piece 'Not Much Disorder and Not So Early Sex' along with a handful of his stories.
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Hubert (Hubert)
Username: Hubert

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 78.21.234.133
Posted on Tuesday, August 04, 2009 - 02:21 pm:   

Ah, "Mariana" . . . I found this in The Best of Sci-Fi 5 edited by Judith Merrill when I was about thwelve years old. An unforgettable story, on a par with Damon Knight's "The Handler".
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John Llewellyn Probert (John_l_probert)
Username: John_l_probert

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 213.253.174.81
Posted on Tuesday, August 04, 2009 - 02:45 pm:   

Thanks chaps! I've got 'Gonna Roll the Bones' in Dangerous Visions & I'm hoping most of the stories listed above are in the Midnight House editions, which are: The Black Gondolier, Smoke Ghost, Horrible Imaginings and Day Dark Night Bright.

I'm particularly impressed by Mr Leiber's attitude to sex which is at times mature, considered and hilariously funny. In fact I may pinch the wonderful soliloquy about breasts in 'Lie Still' for an after dinner speech.

Joel - I've got Night Monsters - I picked it up in the old Quintos bookshop on Great Russell Street opposite the British Museum before it went the way of all such institutions. Conjure Wife I've got in its brand new paperback reissue twinned with Our Lady of Darkness.

Huw - I'm on Power of the Puppets at the moment. S&M with glove puppets? I can't believe I hadn't thought of it myself

I'll put my favourite top 20 up when I've read through all that I have.
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Joel (Joel)
Username: Joel

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 217.37.199.45
Posted on Tuesday, August 04, 2009 - 03:49 pm:   

John the only stories Huw and I listed that you might not have are some SF ones that John Pelan hasn't collected if you carry on acquiring paperback Leibers you'll find them, and more besides.
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Huw (Huw)
Username: Huw

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 218.168.190.222
Posted on Tuesday, August 04, 2009 - 04:23 pm:   

John, I agree about Leiber's attitude toward sex. There's a lot of sensuality in his work, sometimes understated, sometimes more overt. I like the way he blends the erotic and the mysterious in his fiction - he's very fond of his 'ghostgirls', for sure. It's one of the things I like most about him (he loved cats too - another plus!).

I'm sure Leiber got the idea for his story 'The Spider' from Machen's The Three Imposters.

Joel, have you read the novels The Dealings of Daniel Kesserich (published pothumously) and The Sinful Ones (aka You're All Alone)?
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Joel (Joel)
Username: Joel

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 217.37.199.45
Posted on Tuesday, August 04, 2009 - 04:51 pm:   

Huw yes to the first, no to the second. Thought 'Kesserich' was enjoyable, if too early to be representative. Will seek out the other book.

Back in 1997, John Howard reviewed 'Kesserich' under the headline 'Old Leiber, New Danger'.
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Niki Flynn (Niki)
Username: Niki

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 78.146.60.150
Posted on Tuesday, August 04, 2009 - 09:29 pm:   

Sounds like I'm a foregone fan, given what I'm reading here. How is it that I've never read him before???
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Stephen Walsh (Stephenw)
Username: Stephenw

Registered: 03-2009
Posted From: 82.4.20.22
Posted on Wednesday, August 05, 2009 - 12:33 am:   

Heck, another old master I have nothing by! Haven't come across a single story in any of my collections and this has to be rectified going by above comments.

I always had the impression Leiber was primarily a sword & sorcery type fantasy author - one of the many imitators of the Robert E. Howard school of fantasy as opposed to Tolkien.

Would he be comparable to Karl Edward Wagner? Loved his 'Kane' series when I was young and would be great to read them again.
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Craig (Craig)
Username: Craig

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 75.16.87.226
Posted on Wednesday, August 05, 2009 - 02:49 am:   

How to describe Leiber... me, I would say... if R.E. Howard was a red beam of light, and Henry James was a yellow beam of light, and Avram Davidson was a green beam of light, and Robert Bloch was a blue beam of light, and H.P. Lovecraft was a purple beam of light, and Robert Aickman was an orange beam of light... then Fritz Leiber would be a beam of white light....
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Craig (Craig)
Username: Craig

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 75.16.87.226
Posted on Wednesday, August 05, 2009 - 03:00 am:   

Karl Edward Wagner is a good comparison to Leiber: both excelled - I mean excelled - in disparate genres.

For fantasy, Stephen, read "Ill Met in Lankhmar" first for a short story, but try to get to THE SWORDS OF LANKHMAR, not to be defeated.

In sci-fi, no one's yet mentioned "Catch that Zeppelin!" which I think a phenomenal short-story. "Gonna Roll the Bones" is equally phenomenal - longer, also sci-fi, but quite, quite different... and oh so strange....

Well. One could go on and on and on.

(Tangent: someone needs to start a Michael Bishop thread - another master who dabbles in multiple genres, including horror - I've read but relatively little of his work, but everything I have read? - knocked my socks clean off. I've yet to read a piece by him that doesn't floor me in some way....)
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Joel (Joel)
Username: Joel

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 91.110.137.107
Posted on Wednesday, August 05, 2009 - 09:01 am:   

Leiber actually invented the term 'swords and sorcery'. He was influenced by Robert E. Howard, but not limited by that influence.
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Stephen Walsh (Stephenw)
Username: Stephenw

Registered: 03-2009
Posted From: 194.72.14.113
Posted on Wednesday, August 05, 2009 - 12:34 pm:   

So who's the beam of darkness then Craig?

I'm even more fussy when it comes to fantasy than I am with horror (I mean there's just so much sub-Tolkien rubbish around). In my experience only K.E. Wagner has come anywhere near the raw blood-soaked storytelling brilliance of Robert E. Howard. If Fritz Leiber belongs in that company then I'm making him a priority pronto!
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Joel (Joel)
Username: Joel

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 217.37.199.45
Posted on Wednesday, August 05, 2009 - 01:25 pm:   

'Raw blood-soaked storytelling brilliance' isn't quite Leiber, no. Try 'arch, mordant, erotic, weird, ironic, bleak, witty, disturbing, visionary storytelling brilliance'. Does that appeal?
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Gary Fry (Gary_fry)
Username: Gary_fry

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 86.26.90.161
Posted on Wednesday, August 05, 2009 - 01:37 pm:   

Joel: http://www.clothingwarehouse.com/002-0230.html

:-)
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John Llewellyn Probert (John_l_probert)
Username: John_l_probert

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 213.253.174.81
Posted on Wednesday, August 05, 2009 - 01:39 pm:   

I'm even more fussy when it comes to fantasy than I am with horror

Stephen, if it helps the only sword and sorcery / heroic fantasy authors I have ever really enjoyed are Robert E Howard, Michael Moorcock and Fritz Leiber. (I've never read Karl Edward Wagner's stories).
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John Llewellyn Probert (John_l_probert)
Username: John_l_probert

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 213.253.174.81
Posted on Wednesday, August 05, 2009 - 01:52 pm:   

Oh and GF, I would suggest this as a more sartorial acquistion to wear whilst reading one's Fritz Leiber:

http://www.brooktaverner.co.uk/store/richmond-jacket-5645a.html

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Gary Fry (Gary_fry)
Username: Gary_fry

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 86.26.90.161
Posted on Wednesday, August 05, 2009 - 02:06 pm:   

No, mate, I'm holding out for these guys: http://www.primark.co.uk/page.aspx?pointerid=9c4d3ec3370e4050893011db8a6cca5c
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Niki Flynn (Niki)
Username: Niki

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 78.149.156.242
Posted on Wednesday, August 05, 2009 - 02:28 pm:   

You boys should go shopping together. Viss zee uber-funky Austrian akzent - "No big deal!"
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Craig (Craig)
Username: Craig

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 75.4.235.203
Posted on Wednesday, August 05, 2009 - 03:50 pm:   

So who's the beam of darkness then Craig?

Definitely: David Lindsay.
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Thomasb (Thomasb)
Username: Thomasb

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 69.236.170.82
Posted on Wednesday, August 05, 2009 - 07:29 pm:   

I'll put in a plug for "Conjure Wife" as one of my top five favorite horror novels. I jumped up from my chair and applauded at the end when I finished it.

(I also knew Fritz a little toward the end of his days, but I think I told that tale twice already here.)

Meanwhile, there's a surrealistic rant of mine over at the Red Room about the frustrations of trying to get a first novel published: http://www.redroom.com/articlestory/the-aroma-wet-blankets
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Stephen Walsh (Stephenw)
Username: Stephenw

Registered: 03-2009
Posted From: 82.4.20.22
Posted on Wednesday, August 05, 2009 - 11:06 pm:   

'Raw blood-soaked storytelling brilliance' isn't quite Leiber, no. Try 'arch, mordant, erotic, weird, ironic, bleak, witty, disturbing, visionary storytelling brilliance'. Does that appeal?

Oh it appeals... though isn't there even the tiniest smidgen of blood? I likes me fantasy bloody... and the more unashamedly un-PC the better. { ;-) )
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Allybird (Allybird)
Username: Allybird

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 80.47.88.29
Posted on Wednesday, August 05, 2009 - 11:25 pm:   

As always Thomas ...as always :>)
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Stephen Walsh (Stephenw)
Username: Stephenw

Registered: 03-2009
Posted From: 194.72.14.113
Posted on Thursday, August 06, 2009 - 03:46 pm:   

Who on earth is David Lindsay???
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Ramsey Campbell (Ramsey)
Username: Ramsey

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 195.93.21.74
Posted on Thursday, August 06, 2009 - 04:14 pm:   

He wrote the wholly extraordinary A Voyage to Arcturus, among other novels. We lent Robert Aickman The Haunted Woman, and as we thought, he was impressed.
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Weber_gregston (Weber_gregston)
Username: Weber_gregston

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 194.176.105.47
Posted on Thursday, August 06, 2009 - 04:14 pm:   

If he's who I think he is, I've read one of his books called "Lie to Me" and it was rubbish. The only good thing was a play on words in the first few paragraphs - he started with the line "He sits in the woods holding her hand" and we find out a few paragraphs later that the rest of her isn't there.

The only other thing I can remember about the book is how bad I thought it was and wondering how much worse it would get.

I can understand why Craig likes him though
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Weber_gregston (Weber_gregston)
Username: Weber_gregston

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 194.176.105.47
Posted on Thursday, August 06, 2009 - 04:16 pm:   

Crossed posts there. Maybe I have a different Lindsay...
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Weber_gregston (Weber_gregston)
Username: Weber_gregston

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 194.176.105.47
Posted on Thursday, August 06, 2009 - 04:20 pm:   

I might even have David Martin...
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Stephen Walsh (Stephenw)
Username: Stephenw

Registered: 03-2009
Posted From: 194.72.14.113
Posted on Thursday, August 06, 2009 - 04:41 pm:   

You're losing it man...

Just looked up David Lindsay and am gobsmacked I haven't heard of him before! Another one to add to the list. Love that kind of haunting metaphysical fantasy. Wow!!
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Craig (Craig)
Username: Craig

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 75.4.224.33
Posted on Thursday, August 06, 2009 - 04:42 pm:   

The only other thing I can remember about the book is how bad I thought it was and wondering how much worse it would get.

I'll bet you thought the stupid lousy book was too short, too....
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Thomasb (Thomasb)
Username: Thomasb

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 69.236.170.82
Posted on Saturday, August 08, 2009 - 01:23 am:   

Thanks, Ally!

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