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Creator / Fritz Leiber

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Fritz Reuter Leiber Jr. (December 24, 1910 – September 5, 1992) was an American writer of fantasy, horror and Science Fiction, best known for his fantasy series Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser, and for coining the term "Sword and Sorcery". Leiber was also a quite a bit of literary critic, having written several essays on H. P. Lovecraft (with whom Leiber had a brief, but intense correspondence with prior to Lovecraft's death in 1937) and his influence on the horror genre.

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 in 1981.

Leiber eventually passed away from a stroke in September 1992, at the age of 81.

Leiber's father, Fritz Leiber Sr., was a well known actor of silent films, while his son, Justin, was a science fiction writer and philosopher.

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.
  • Almost Out of Oxygen: "A Pail of Air" takes place in a setting where Earth has been thrown away from the Sun. The atmosphere has frozen out and the protagonist and his father regular have to venture outside their family's shelter to get pails of solid oxygen.
  • Animal Is the New Man: The characters of "Later Than You Think" appear to be extraterrestrials discussing the remains of human civilization on our Earth, but they're actually studying the ruins of a rat civilization to which humans are Precursors.
  • Author Avatar: The main character of Our Lady of Darkness is Franz Westen, a writer of weird tales lives in San Francisco and struggles with recovering from the death of his wife and the alcoholism resulting from it. Compare this to Lieber himself, who at the time was a writer of weird tales who lived in San Francisco and struggled with a bout of alcoholism after the death of his wife.
  • Born After the End: The narrator of "A Pail of Air" and his sister were both born in a Glacial Apocalypse after Earth was ripped away from the Sun.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Evil Weapon: The titular gun, in "The Automatic Pistol." There are no problems under its first owner... but when one of his fellow gangsters takes possession of it after his death, spooky things start to happen.
  • Fallout Shelter Fail: In "A Pail of Air", the narrator's father and his colleagues were working on a shelter to survive the upcoming apocalypse. Unfortunately, earthquakes had destroyed the shelter and killed the colleagues, so dad was forced to essentially cobble together another one out of household items.
  • 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".
  • Fish out of Water: "A Spectre is Haunting Texas" features an actor coming down from a satellite colony to complete a mission and who finds a future Earth future where Russia and an overgrown Texas have fought a nuclear war, the Texans have used genetic engineering to grow seven feet tall (the Russians have used the same technique to grow broader) and enslaved normal-sized Mexicans. And it's a comedy.
  • Glacial Apocalypse: In "A Pail of Air", the Earth has been thrown out of its orbit by a rogue "dark star" and is flying further and further away from the Sun's warmth. It is so cold that even the air has frozen.
  • 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."
  • Maybe Magic, Maybe Mundane: The ending of "The Automatic Pistol." Sure, the gun could have gone off naturally, firing eight bullets into the guy who killed its previous owner and took it for himself—but the narrator isn't taking any chances.
  • Merlin Sickness: In "The Man Who Never Grew Young", it happens to everyone except the immortal title character and history itself runs backwards.
  • 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.
  • Our Nudity Is Different: In "Coming Attraction", being topless is fine for a woman, but appearing in public without a face mask is considered taboo.
  • 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.
  • Planetary Relocation:
    • The Wanderer has a planet suddenly appear near Earth out of hyperspace and wreak havok with physics (and destroy the moon). The premise and title are playing off the fact that the word "planet" comes from the ancient Greek for "wanderer".
    • "A Pail of Air" has the Earth thrown out of orbit into interstellar space.
  • 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.
  • Unrobotic Reveal: In The Silver Eggheads, robotic writer Zane Gort, who writes books for robots, considers this trope unsatisfying, but once used it anyway.
    Zane Gort: 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.