Fritz Leiber: Overview

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Author: Norman L. Hills
Editor: Jay P. Pederson
Date: 1996
Publisher: Gale
Document Type: Critical essay
Length: 934 words

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Fritz Leiber is one of the most popular and respected writers of science fiction and fantasy. While his readers and fellow writers have appreciated his humor and concern for mankind, the critics have largely ignored his work. Leiber has sometimes been classed with the writers of "weird" stories because of his frequent use of the supernatural and his acknowledged literary debt to H.P. Lovecraft. This association is misleading since Leiber uses the supernatural as a source of symbols for the mysteries of the universe and the mind. As he says, "Many of the most typical creations of science fiction, especially the robot, the android, and the extraterrestrial, are simply the monster in a new guise...."

The supernatural may also turn out to be disguised as applications of science, as in his first novel, Gather, Darkness! This story concerns a revolution in a repressive society controlled by a religious hierarchy using technology masquerading as supernatural miracle. The resulting satire provides a commentary on the respective roles of religion, science, and government. There is a witty surface of gadgets such as an electronically controlled haunted house, but there is also a warning against the dangers of restricting scientific knowledge to an elite, regardless of the reason. Leiber's background in the theater is probably responsible for the dramatic staging of much of the action.

The Green Millennium presents a picture of a decadent United States where...

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Gale Document Number: GALE|H1420004905