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Leiber, Fritz

story burn sequence wife

(US, 1910–92)

Fritz Leiber is best known for his sequence of fantasy stories set on the world of ‘Nehwon’, and featuring the paired heroes Fafhrd and Gray Mouser. This began in 1939, but has now been extended to six volumes of collected stories, the latest being The Knight and Knave of Swords (1988), and one novel, The Swords of Lankhmar (1968): all volumes in the series have the word ‘swords’ in the title. The sequence is definitive of the ‘sword and sorcery’ genre (a phrase Leiber invented), but ideas which became clichés in other hands, like the barbarian adventurer entering the sophisticated but decadent metropolis, are handled by Leiber with ironic wit. Leiber's early occult story Conjure Wife (1943), about a university professor who discovers too late that his wife is not the only witch on campus, was filmed as Burn Witch Burn (1961). He has also written many works of science fiction, including The Big Time (1961), a story about two sides (the Spiders and the Snakes) who strive continually to alter history in their favour by changing the past.

Lyon Sprague de Camp, Jack Vance.

See FANTASY  TS

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