Read Changewar by Fritz Leiber Free Online
Book Title: Changewar|
The author of the book: Fritz Leiber
Edition: Ace Books
Date of issue: May 1st 1983
ISBN 13: 9780441102594
Format files: PDF
The size of the: 3.55 MB
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Reader ratings: 6.6
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I didn't know this book, which collects almost all Leiber's time traveling Change War stories, existed until recently. I'd read most of the Change War stories over the years (including the only one not included here, The Big Time) but two in this book were new to me: "Knight to Move" and "No Great Magic".
The overall premise here is that history can be changed, but it's really difficult. In fact, to pull it off you need the equivalent of a time-traveling army. There are two such forces that struggle endlessly in this story cycle: the Spiders and the Snakes.
One of the things I've heard people say they don't like about the Change War stories is the uncertainty. The protagonists don't really know why the two sides are fighting, what goals each has, what year it "really" is, or even who's in charge--are they aliens, members of species that already died out or haven't evolved yet, or just humans who chose those names like you might pick Shirts and Skins for your touch football teams? To me, though, it's part of the charm. All the characters are just foot soldiers in the long war--asked only to do or die, not reason why. And anyway, at the end of The Big Time, it's hinted that what's going on might not be a war at all; it only appears that it is from the characters' perspective.
A quick rundown of the stories:
Try and Change the Past: A classic exposition of the 'you can't change the past' theory. (Actually, it's not that you can't; it's just so hard that the protagonist--a new Snake recruit--gives up trying. But you can't blame him.)
The Oldest Soldier: A time-traveling soldier helps a half-hearted pacifist understand that military service is honorable. He then helps the soldier escape enemies and return to his unit. One of my favorites.
Damnation Morning: Another new recruit's story. That's about all I can say without giving away the twist.
When the Change-Winds Blow: Almost more a prose poem than a story--about "remembrance of things past" when the past is always changing.
Knight to Move: A neat little story featuring chess (another of Leiber's favorite themes) as well as time travel. Incidentally, one of The Big Time's main characters also appears here.
A Deskful of Girls: The longest story in the collection, other than "No Great Magic", and my least favorite. I would say it also has the weakest connection to the Change War--really it just uses the device of cutting "ghosts" out of a living person's timeline, which also occurs in The Big Time.
No Great Magic: A delightful novella, crossing over into another of Leiber's great interests, Shakespearian acting. Given how much The Big Time was structured like a play, it seems only natural to find its cast of characters running a time-traveling theatre. This story, all by itself, made it worth getting Changewar.
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Read information about the authorFritz Reuter Leiber, Jr. was one of the more interesting of the young writers who came into HP Lovecraft's orbit, and some of his best early short fiction is horror rather than sf or fantasy. He found his mature voice early in the first of the sword-and-sorcery adventures featuring the large sensitive barbarian Fafhrd and the small street-smart-ish Gray Mouser; he returned to this series at various points in his career, using it sometimes for farce and sometimes for gloomy mood pieces--The Swords of Lankhmar is perhaps the best single volume of their adventures. Leiber's science fiction includes the planet-smashing The Wanderer in which a large cast mostly survive flood, fire, and the sexual attentions of feline aliens, and the satirical A Spectre is Haunting Texas in which a gangling, exo-skeleton-clad actor from the Moon leads a revolution and finds his true love. Leiber's late short fiction, and the fine horror novel Our Lady of Darkness, combine autobiographical issues like his struggle with depression and alcoholism with meditations on the emotional content of the fantastic genres. Leiber's capacity for endless self-reinvention and productive self-examination kept him, until his death, one of the most modern of his sf generation.
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