Creator / Fritz Leiber
Fritz Leiber (1910 - 1992) was an American writer of fantasy
and Science Fiction
, best known for his fantasy series Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser
, and for creating the term "Sword and Sorcery".
His other works include the contemporary fantasy novel Conjure Wife
; the science fiction novel The Wanderer
; and the Time Travel Change War
series which included the acclaimed short novel The Big Time
He was given a lifetime-achievement World Fantasy Award
in 1976, and was elected a Grand Master of Science Fiction
Works by Fritz Leiber with their own trope pages include:
Other works by Fritz Leiber provide examples of:
- Advert-Overloaded Future: The setting of "The Last Letter", where citizens are confronted with billboards, radio jingles, mail, and even phone calls which feature nothing but advertisements.
- Alternate History: Happens a lot in the Change War series.
- Army of the Ages: The premise of the Change War stories, but the stories are all told by grunts who have no understanding of the big picture.
- Brown Note: "Rump-Titty-Titty-Tum-TAH-Tee" is about the discovery of a waltz rhythm that causes anyone who hears it to become maniacally obsessed with it, listen for other examples of it, and recreate it at every opportunity.
- Cat Girl: The Wanderer has a Sexy Alien Catgirl from a Superior Species teach the hero about Sexy Catgirl Sex. It's notable that this is a Western novel from the 1960s.
- Ear Worm: An in-universe example is at the center of the story "Rump-Titty-Titty-Tum-TAH-Tee".
- Endless Winter: In the short story A Pail of Air, the Earth is ripped away from the Sun by a passing black hole. As a result of losing the heat of the Sun the Earth has gotten so cold that the atmosphere has frozen.
- Fembot: The robot population in "The Silver Eggheads" is divided into males and females because it turns out to be very beneficial to robotic mental health to be able to have sex — robotic sex, which entails sharing power on the same circuit. They don't have to do this by an exacting emulation of human sex, but that's the way it works out culturally.
- Feudal Future: In Gather, Darkness! a super-scientific elite run the world in the guise of a Corrupt Church sustained by high-tech miracles, and keep everyone else as uneducated peasants. They are opposed by an underground of witches using equally super-tech magic.
- Fishbowl Helmet: In A Pail of Air, a lot of survival equipment had to be made out of whatever was available. The EVA suits' headpieces used to be "big double-duty transparent food cans".
- Forever War: The Change War, a war of time travellers between "the Spiders" and "the Snakes." The two sides span galaxies and species as well as ages, and no one, at least no one the reader meets, knows what the war is about. Both sides are trying to redesign the history of the universe, but no one knows to what end, nor does the war appear to even have a history.
- Hidden in Plain Sight: In The Big Time, a piece of equipment, the "Major Maintainer", seemingly vanishes from the extra-temporal Place. The characters know that it couldn't have been removed from the room, since it is the very machine whose presence maintains the Place's continued existence, but it's nowhere to be found even after they ransack the entire room. It turns out that one of the characters had turned it inside-out, using one of the medical machines, and hid the resulting unrecognizable object among a gallery of equally abstract-looking alien art pieces.
- Hilarious in Hindsight: Mitt Romney only wishes that he had the binder full of women that Dr. Slyker sports in short story, A Deskful of Girls.
- Hot Witch: Tansy Saylor, in Conjure Wife.
- Interspecies Romance: The Wanderer included romance with an off-world female from a feline race. Think serious scratches down the back.
- Definitely a subject of Author Appeal, as there's quite a lot of it. Cat women, fish women, ghost women — there are a lot of different types of not-entirely-normal women in Leiber's work.
- Laser Blade: The "rods of wrath" in Gather Darkness (1943) are possibly the Ur-Example.
"Like two ancient swordsmen, then, the warlock and the deacon dueled together. Their weapons were two endless blades of violet incandescence, but their tactics were those of sabers — feint, cut, parry, swift riposte."
- Locked Room Mystery: A non-murder example in The Big Time; it is referred to practically by name, as chapter 9 is titled "A Locked Room" and includes a quote from the detective story The Purloined Letter. Part of the story involves the disappearance of a device which maintains the life support within an inescapable hyperdimensional location; it must be inside, seeing as everyone are still alive and there was no possible way to remove it from the area, yet it's nowhere to be found, even when the place is searched top to bottom.
- Merlin Sickness: In "The Man Who Never Grew Young", it happens to everyone except the immortal title character and history itself runs backwards.
- Nazi Protagonist: The Big Time has a sympathetic Nazi, though in a completely alien context. (It takes place in a background of Time Travel and changed timelines, in a recreation station between dimensions.)
- Necro Non Sequitur: "Try and Change the Past", in which a Time Soldier tries to use his tools to prevent his own past death. (Time Soldiers are recruited just before the moment of their death, but, for handwaved reasons, remember dying.) He goes back and prevents himself from being shot, only to see his past self, with a look of despair, pick up the gun and shoot himself. So he goes back again and disables the gun, only to see his past self hit by a bullet-sized meteorite in exactly the same place the bullet struck in the previous two deaths. At which point he understandably gives up.
- No Celebrities Were Harmed: All human chess players in "The Sixty-Four Square Madhouse" are plays off the names of grandmasters active at the time (e.g. William Angler for Robert Fischer, Vasilly Krakatower for Savielly Tartakower, etc.).
- Non-Linear Character: The title character in The Dealings of Daniel Kesserich gains this ability as a side effect of messing with time travel.
- Ontological Inertia: Codified in the Change War series as the Law of Reality Conservation: "Anything in existence will continue to exist until a sufficient force acts against it."
- Our Nudity Is Different: In "Coming Attraction", being topless is fine for a woman... so long as she wears a mask.
- Pick Your Human Half: The Silver Eggheads has Miss Willow, a "femiquin" (robot prostitute) who looks but doesn't act human, and the robot lovers Zane Gort and Miss Phyllis Blushes, who act but don't look human. The dichotomy is rationalized by Zane, who tells the human hero that, if you tried to cram all the AI circuitry of a real robot like himself into the same chassis with all the human-mimicry devices of a femiquin, the result would have to be 10 feet high or as fat as a circus fat lady.
- Realistic Diction Is Unrealistic: The Big Time contains a sustained example (it begins "Woe to Spider! Woe to Cretan! Heavy is the news I bring you. Bear it bravely, like strong women."). The occasional swoops from one sort of vocabulary to another ("But I didn't die there, kiddos") are found to be funny by some readers, but in full context they fit the character and her background too exactly.
- Recursive Adaptation: Leiber adapted Tarzan and the City of Gold starring Mike Henry into a prose Tarzan novel. He took pains to footnote past Tarzan adventures by Edgar Rice Burroughs to make this a canonical continuation of the Tarzan continuity of Burroughs.
- Richard Nixon the Used Car Salesman: In the short story "Catch that Zeppelin!", Fritz Leiber writes of a person jumping sideways-and-backwards from 1973 to 1937, replete with Zeppelins, electric cars, a successful Reconstruction, and — most crucially — a completely defeated Germany at the end of 1918. It is revealed that the alternate-1937 perspective is from a very different Adolf Hitler.
- Robo Romance: In The Silver Eggheads, sentient robots can have sex with one another (it includes connecting wires), and have their own complex sexual culture, complete with romance novels and fanservice.
- Robotic Reveal: In The Silver Eggheads, this trope is ridiculed by the robot writer Zane Gort, who writes books for robots (and is not averse to use an Un-Robotic Reveal himself):
Zane Gort: You know, it's funny how humans are forever ending stories or episodes with the discovery that the beautiful woman is a robot. Just at the point where it starts to get interesting. And ending it bang without one word of description as to the robot's shape, color, decor, pincher-style and so on, or even telling you whether it's a robot or a robix.note
- Robot Names: The Silver Eggheads has multiple examples, such as the robot writer Zane Gort (whose name combines homages to the human writer Zane Gray and to Gort, the robot in The Day the Earth Stood Still).
- Sexbot: In The Silver Eggheads, one of the characters rents a "femiquin," a sex-toy robot that passes as human, if not particularly bright. The setting includes truly sapient robots who don't look at all human; one of them explains that, if you crammed all the circuitry needed for intelligence into the same chassis as all the, er, plumbing necessary for a realistically human sexbot, the resultant device would be gigantic.
- Sufficiently Analyzed Magic: Conjure Wife explores this trope, as a college professor discovers that witchcraft is an open secret among women (including his wife) and ends up analyzing magic himself.
- Time Travel: Especially in the Change War series.
- Unrobotic Reveal: In The Silver Eggheads, robotic writer Zane Gort, who writes books for robots, considers this trope unsatisfying, but once used it anyway.
Come to think of it, I once did end a Dr. Tungsten chapter just that way: Platinum Paula turns out to be an empty robot-shell with a human movie starlet inside at the controls. I knew my readers would feel so frustrated they'd want to get on to something else right away. So I cut to Silver Vilya oiling herself
. That always tickles them.
- Women's Mysteries: Conjure Wife relates a college professor's discovery that his wife (and all other women) are regularly using magic against one another and their husbands. The story is set in the real world around the idea that women practice magic but not only keep it secret from all men but almost from themselves, as they just act as if it really isn't anything important but just superstitious meaningless acts, like not walking under a ladder.
- Zeppelins from Another World: Catch That Zeppelin! is about an alternate universe where things turned out (mostly) much better than our own, and includes the subtrope of zeppelins docking at the Empire State building, where a Real Life mooring mast was considered. Needless to say, they didn't use hydrogen to lift them.