- Publisher: Dark Harvest Books (February 1990)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0913165484
- ISBN-13: 978-0913165485
- Product Dimensions: 22.9 x 15.2 x 2.5 cm
- Shipping Weight: 626 g
Of course, this does not in any way mean that every story in this half-century retrospective is exceptional. The exact opposite is true: many of the stories in this impressively large and heavy book are dull and unexciting. There is a definite impression that they were written by an undisputed master of the genre - but no rerader involvement. However, some of the better stories present make this mammoth anthology a joy to read.
As far as the genres represented in this volume, one can't but admit that Leiber has an undeniable gift for blurring the lines of separation: rather than being strictly science fiction or fantasy, the wide majority of stories are ridiculous fictions, absurd juxtapositions of totally unrelated elements (for example, "Endfray of the Ofay" is an alternate history combining magic and nuclear weaponry). Certainly, there are some recurring themes - nuclear devastation and the continuing Cold War are especially common. In their ultimate form, these "idea-stories" can be extremely funny, adventuresome, and provocative.
Interestingly, the author's style - and its evolution - adds a layer of depth and variety to the anthology: the shock-pulp of the thirties gives way to the somber fictions of the fifties and the uproarious fantasies of the sixties and seventies. The progression is completed with the excellent, unique semi-autobiographical novelettes of the eighties, which combine Leiber's personal experiences of apartment-living with some supernatural undercurrents.
Those looking for Fafhrd/Gray Mouser stories will be sorely disappointed - there are only five (compare to the two about chess), and they are not at all interesting. As for myself, I was disappointed by the inordinate number of typos - of the sort that evade spell-check software and confuse readers ("closet" instead of "closest").
A very good restrospective anthology honoring one of the founding fathers of SF&F.