The Big Time

Fritz Leiber
The Big Time Cover

The Big Time


The Big Time by Fritz Leiber

The Big Time was originally published in two parts in Galaxy Magazine's March and April 1958 issues illustrated by Virgil Finlay.

I started to read The Big Time because it was a free book through Project Gutenberg ( ) that would fulfill a slot in the Grand Master Reading Challenge. I got through several pages and thought the main character’s language was pretty stilted. I found myself too busy to do much reading, but eventually found the book through LibriVox ( ). LibriVox is a sister organization to Project Gutenberg that makes audio recordings of books in the public domain available to the public for free. The recordings can be fairly hit or miss depending on the narrator. This is not a problem in the case of The Big Time. Karen Savage does an excellent job of bringing multiple characters to life, and her reading made some of the authors prose a little more bearable.

The book is presented entirely in a first person narrative. The narrator, Greta, describes herself as a party girl and is pretty brash. She is an “entertainer” in an R&R lounge for the Change War, which is fought between the Snakes and the Spiders. They are fighting to change events in history, although no one seems to know why. The characters in the book are from many different eras and even include some extra-terrestrials.

The story opens with Greta and her co-workers giving aid and comfort to a Roman, an English officer from World War I, and a German SS officer. Leiber is world building during this section of the book. A second set of characters arrive that sets the plot in motion. The plot that follows consists of a locked room mystery (thanks wikipedia) with Greta as the sleuth.

My main issue with this book is that it really doesn’t go anywhere. We don’t find out much about the world beyond the walls of the R&R lounge, or about the two sides engaged in the Change War. I feel like a lot of books today could stand to be edited down, but the books I have been reading for the GMRC seem to need to be fleshed out. There are some good ideas here; I just wish Leiber would have written more of the story. The book is under a hundred pages and the recording is under four hours. Even with all of its warts, it is probably worth reading given the time investment involved.