SELECT * FROM uv_BookReviewRollup WHERE recordnum = 629
Fritz Leiber and H.P. Lovecraft: Writers of the Da, edited by Ben Szumskyj, S. T. Joshi Book Review | SFReader.com
Fritz Leiber and H.P. Lovecraft: Writers of the Da, edited by Ben Szumskyj, S. T. Joshi Genre: Non-Fiction Publisher: Wildside Press Published: 2003 Review Posted: 7/21/2005 Reviewer Rating:
Reader Rating: 8 out of 10
Fritz Leiber and H.P. Lovecraft: Writers of the Da, edited by Ben Szumskyj, S. T. Joshi
Book Review by Phillip A. Ellis
Have you read this book?
Fritz Leiber and H. P. Lovecraft are two giants in their respective fields
of speculative fiction. While Lovecraft was to change forever the weird
tale, and Lieber was to change heroic fantasy, urban horror, and was to
prove instrumental in comedic science fiction, the result of their brief
correspondence was to prove both instructive and fascinating. This book,
then, gathers together the results of that correspondence, both the extant
letters themselves, and the stories and essays that were to come from
The first of the book's three sections is the correspondence. It consists of
what is now extant, what remains of a thriving, if brief, exchange of
letters. As a result, we only see Lovecraft's side, and only partially.
Though this may seem a drawback of the volume, it is counterbalanced by the
following two sections, and while it keeps to Lovecraft's voice, the others
give us Lieber's both during and after the relationship between the two.
The second section, the stories and the poem "The Demons of the Upper Air",
preserves the creative results of the relationship. The version of "Adept's
Gambit" preserved herein gives us an insight into the initial burst of
creativity that Lieber displayed, as does the poem; these, plus "The Sunken
Land" are evidence for the immediate effect of the relationship, and of the
talent displayed and evident in Lieber himself. The latter stories are,
primarily, responses to Lovecraft, and to the challenges posed by his cosmic
ism. Of them all, "The Dead Man" is the real weak point. Its concentration
upon the relationships of the principals, at the expense of the cosmicism,
makes this the one dispensable piece in the collection. This is not to say
that it is a bad story; it reads well, and is enjoyable, but it is not of
the same caliber as the others, and it lacks the evident influence of
Lovecraft himself. The final two stories, "To Arkham and the Stars", and
"The Terror from the Depths" round off this section with pieces more
evidently of the Cthulhu Mythos. In them, we see the mature Leiber's homage
to Lovecraft, and it brings to full circle the relationship. They are,
easily, the culmination of the relationship, and required reading for any
The final section, the essays, gathers together the nonfiction writings by
Lieber that are germane to the relationship between himself and Lovecraft.
Highlights, and, again, required reading, are such pieces as "A Literary
Copernicus", and here we see both Lieber's view of Mythos fiction and key
texts. Like the second section, it is evidence of the depth and importance
of the relationship between Lieber and Lovecraft, and like it, it is easily
reason enough to purchase this volume. The essays themselves are insightful,
persuasive and intelligent, and they are models for those seeking to
understand both Lovecraft the man and Lovecraft the writer.
In summation, then, while this volume has limitations, namely the
one-sidedness of the correspondence, and while it has flaws, notably the
inclusion of "The Dead Man", these caveats are more than compensated for by
the rest of the material. This is a landmark piece. It not only preserves
Lovecraft's correspondence to Lieber, it gathers together key fiction and
nonfiction by Lieber. It allows the intelligent readers and critics,
therefor, opportunity to assess for themselves the direct influence of
Lovecraft, and it allows us also the chance to draw from this conclusions to
test upon Lieber's greater works. This is a volume that deserves to be read
by all Lovecraft fans, and all Lieber fans. And, by itself, it is enough to
dispell the myths of Lovecraft the recluse, and Lovecraft the misogynist.
The man we see here is open enough, interested enough, and accessible enough
that the book's contents amply demonstrate his warmth, humanity, and ability
to inspire friendships. If only the same could be said for us all.
Click here to buy Fritz Leiber and H.P. Lovecraft: Writers of the Da, edited by Ben Szumskyj, S. T. Joshi on Amazon
Comment on Fritz Leiber and H.P. Lovecraft: Writers of the Da, edited by Ben Szumskyj, S. T. Joshi
Comments on Fritz Leiber and H.P. Lovecraft: Writers of the Da, edited by Ben Szumskyj, S. T. Joshi
Posted by Anon on 7/6/2014
Wow What a wealth of Fritz Leiber stuff you've given us there! Thank you so much. I love Leiber's hororr & fantasy, but have always found getting info on him a bit difficult (compared to Lovecraft & co), so this is really valuable stuff. I only wish I could have been there to see him in person, but this is definitely the next best thing. Thanks again!