Thursday, July 2, 2009

Friday's "Forgotten" Books: GUMMITCH AND FRIENDS by Fritz Leiber (and friends) (Donald M. Grant, Publishers 1993)

The Contento Index:
Gummitch & Friends Fritz Leiber (Donald M. Grant 1-880418-18-5, Feb ’93, $30.00, 222pp, hc, cover by Alicia Austin); Collection of 16 stories and sketches by Leiber and six poems by Margo Skinner (plus one by Poul Anderson) about cats, with an introduction by Leiber, an afterword by Margo Skinner, and a number of appreciations of Leiber. A slipcased 1,000 copy limited edition (-17-7, $60.00) is also available, signed by Margo Skinner Leiber and Roger Gerberding, and containing 34 additional pages of various tributes written just after Leiber’s death. Order from Donald M. Grant, PO Box 187, Hampton Falls NH 03844.
1 · Preface · Ann R. Howland · pr
3 · Fritz Leiber, Felines and Son · Justin Leiber · ms
6 · Fritz Leiber · Poul Anderson · ms
9 · Ballade of a Loss, Fritz Leiber: 1910-1992 · Karen Anderson · pm
11 · Fritz Leiber · Robert Bloch · ms
13 · Fritz Leiber · Ray Bradbury · ms
15 · Fritz Leiber · Ramsey Campbell · ms
17 · Remembering Fritz Leiber · Catherine Crook de Camp · ms
19 · The Leiber - de Camp Duel · L. Sprague de Camp · ms
21 · ...And Last Words · Harlan Ellison · ms
22 · A Few Too Few Words · Harlan Ellison · ms
25 · Fritz Leiber · Dennis Etchison · ms
27 · Fritz Leiber · Stephen King · ms
30 · Emancipation Proclamation · Judith Merril · ms
32 · Fritz Leiber · Andre Norton · ms
33 · Fritz Leiber · Frank M. Robinson · ms
11 · Introduction · in
· Cat Stories
19 · Space-Time for Springers [Gummitch] · ss Star Science Fiction Stories #4, ed. Frederik Pohl, Ballantine, 1958
39 · Kreativity for Kats [Gummitch] · ss Galaxy Apr ’61
53 · Cat’s Cradle · ss The Book of Fritz Leiber, DAW, 1974
75 · The Cat Hotel [Gummitch] · ss F&SF Oct ’83
97 · Thrice the Brinded Cat · ss *
107 · The Lotus Eaters · ss F&SF Oct ’72
115 · Cat Three · ss F&SF Oct ’73
127 · The Bump · ss Infinity #4, ed. Robert Hoskins, Lancer, 1972
133 · The Great San Francisco Glacier · ss A Fantasy Reader, ed. Jeff Frane & Jack Rems, 1981
143 · Ship of Shadows · na F&SF Jul ’69
· Cat Poems
207 · Earthbound · Margo Skinner · pm As Green As Emeraude, Dawn Heron Press, 1990
209 · God and the Cat · Margo Skinner · pm As Green As Emeraude, Dawn Heron Press, 1990
211 · A Sinister of Siamese · Margo Skinner · pm As Green As Emeraude, Dawn Heron Press, 1990
213 · Lullaby for a Cat Names Fatima · Margo Skinner · pm As Green As Emeraude, Dawn Heron Press, 1990
215 · Origin of the Species · Karen Anderson · pm F&SF Jun ’58
217 · Sestina of the Cat in the Doorway · Poul Anderson · pm Smorgasbord, 1959
219 · Afterword · Margo Skinner · aw

I'm breaking my perhaps cardinal rule with this one--this collection, meant originally to be a celebration of Fritz Leiber's great love of cats, and perhaps particularly of the cat character Gummitch, modeled in part on a small cat that Jonquil and Fritz Leiber kept in the '50s and '60s, and then suddenly expanded to become a memorial volume for Leiber, is still in print.

And it's a handsome thing, with a slipcase and charming illustration (including an illo for the humanoid/felinoid Tigerishka, from the novel The least favored of the Leiber novels I've read, but one which has its following. The two probably indespensible stories in the book are two of Leiber's most famous, "Space-Time for Springers" (which introduced Gummith and his people, including the analogs for Jonquil and Fritz Leiber, and with their son Justin transmogrified into a troubled daugher), and "Ship of Shadows" (published after Jonquil's death, a story of a man desperatedly trying to swim out of chemical dependency, even as Leiber himself was at that time, with the not so gentle prodding of a sentient and voluble cat).

The rest of the Gummitch stories are not up to "Space-Time," but it was a good idea to bring them all together. As noted, Leiber's death, not quite sudden, turned this into a memorial volume, and the econmia from Leiber's friends (including Margo Skinner, his companion in thier last years...she died with a year or so of his passing). The short essays vary in quality, some more impeded by grief than others (and some by folks closer to Leiber than some of the others).

This is not the Leiber volume for the beginning reader of this genius, though it's good thing to have, for the simple elegance of the book-making and the better contributions, from Leiber and others (I wish I could find some good in Skinner's poetry, but I don't). Cleveland Amory (or Dewey) -fan cat lovers are not, on the whole, the natural audience for this book, etiher...but if you already know Leiber's Conjure Wife and You're All Alone, Our Lady of Darkness and The Big Time, the Fafhrd and Gray Mouser saga, and so many brilliant shorter fictions...this is a book you will eventually need to read.

Please see Patti Abbott's blog for more "forgotten" books for this week.


pattinase (abbott) said...

I always know I am going to find something different on your blog.

Herman B. said...

I just ordered this book from Amazon and look forward to reading it, I liked Liebers "Our Lady of Darkness" and his depecition of coming out of dependence, so I look forward to "Ship of fools"... also the new charechter of Gummitch, I love authors that build memorable charechters. Thanks for the review on your blog.

Todd Mason said...

You're quite welcome. Hope you like it...Leiber was in many ways the best in much of what he did. "Ship of Shadows" probably won't disappoint you.