Friday, July 27, 2018

FFB: SWORDS AND DEVILTRY by Fritz Leiber (Ace 1970); NIGHTFALL AND OTHER STORIES by Isaac Asimov (Doubleday 1969)

Two books which haven't been Forgotten so much as absorbed into larger editions, which are in print at very least after a fashion, or in the case of the Leiber, are also reprinted in very expensive. lavish collectors' editions over the last couple of years (three Centipede Press editions, ranging in original price from $75-$300). 

Swords and Deviltry collects, in terms of narrative or internal chronology, the first three stories of the swordsmen, thieves and mercenaries Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser, the former a tall hulking figure from the barbarian North of the planet Nehwon (which notably is a reversal of "No when", a bit of tribute to Samuel Butler's Erewhon), the latter a short, slight man of great agility and speed, from points southerly; they eventually meet in their world's largest city, Lankhmar. The first novella, "The Snow Women", gives Fafhrd's origin story, as the magical apron-string-bound prince of the Snow Clan finds love with visiting young woman, in with the annual visitation of outlander traders and show people; Fafhrd being a sort of analog of Leiber himself, raised largely by aunts while his parents were touring the country with their Shakespearean troupe. "The Unholy Grail", a novelet written a decade earlier, gives the early years of Mouse, who would become the Mouser, their innings; Harry Fischer, a great friend of Leiber, and direct collaborator on several of the early stories in the F&GM series, was the model for Mouse/the Gray Mouser. And "Ill Met in Lankhmar", a 1970 novella which won both the Hugo and Nebula awards for Leiber (in those years where there was, for a while, no regular award for fantasy fiction), brings the two men and their womenfriends together for the first time...and binds them with even greater tragedy than they faced earlier. The first and third stories had been written in the wake of the rather early death of Leiber's wife, Jonquil, which had sent him into probably his most profound alcoholic tailspin, a recurring problem for Leiber, which he would often use the writing of Fafhrd and Mouser stories to help overcome. Of all the Ace paperback volumes which initially gathered the sword and sorcery fiction of Leiber, this one has always been the dearest to me, even given the relative lack of heft of "The Unholy Grail"--more than made up for by both the novellas...which notably appeared in the same cover-dates for the two most notable English-language fantasy-fiction magazines in 1970, Fantastic and The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction. Most of the other Ace volumes would mix stories of varying quality, from readable at worst to utterly brilliant, but "Ill Met" is one of the best, if not the best, of the stories in the series, and "The Snow Women" is funny and sharply observed, almost as deft in its satire of sexual politics (from an essentially pro-feminist, but not at all obsequiously so, point of view, not unlike his brilliant first novel, Conjure Wife...and incorporating some of the resentment of Leiber would express for the restrictiveness of his upbringing, and its consequences, in other stories, such as "Gonna Roll the Bones"). 
First edition, art by Jeff Jones.

    • Author’s Introduction · in
    • Induction · vi
    • The Snow Women · na Fantastic Apr 1970
    • The Unholy Grail · nv Fantastic Oct 1962
    • Ill Met in Lankhmar · na F&SF Apr 1970

April 1970

April 1970

October 1962
The first trade omnibus to incorporate Swords & Deviltry
(there was a SF Book Club omnibus in 1989)
White Wolf 1995

Ill Met in Lankhmar Fritz Leiber (White Wolf/Borealis 1-56504-926-8, Oct ’95 [Sep ’95], $19.99, 337pp, hc, cover by Mike Mignola & Sherilyn Van Valkenburgh) [Fafhrd & Gray Mouser] Omnibus of the first two collections featuring Fafhrd and the Grey Mouser, Swords and Deviltry (Ace 1970) and Swords Against Death (Ace 1970). There is a new introduction by Michael Moorcock. The introductory material by Leiber himself is taken from the 1977 Gregg Press editions, and includes pieces dated 1962, 1973, 1974, and 1977.
  • vii · Introduction · Michael Moorcock · in
  • 1 · Original Author’s Introduction · in
  • 21 · The Gray Mouser: 1 · pm
  • 22 · The Gray Mouser: 2 · pm
  • 23 · Induction · vi
  • 25 · The Snow Women · na Fantastic Apr ’70
  • 85 · The Unholy Grail · nv Fantastic Oct ’62
  • 107 · Ill Met in Lankhmar · na F&SF Apr ’70
  • 160 · Author’s Foreword · fw
  • 161 · The Circle Curse · ss Swords Against Death, Ace, 1970
  • 171 · The Jewels in the Forest [“Two Sought Adventure”] · nv Unknown Aug ’39
  • 199 · Thieves’ House · nv Unknown Feb ’43
  • 225 · The Bleak Shore · ss Unknown Nov ’40
  • 235 · The Howling Tower · ss Unknown Jun ’41
  • 249 · The Sunken Land · ss Unknown Feb ’42
  • 263 · The Seven Black Priests · nv Other Worlds Science Stories May ’53
  • 285 · Claws from the Night [“Dark Vengeance”] · nv Suspense Magazine Fall ’51
  • 307 · The Price of Pain-Ease · ss Swords Against Death, Ace, 1970; F&SF Oct '71
  • 317 · Bazaar of the Bizarre · nv Fantastic Aug ’63

The First Book of Lankhmar Fritz Leiber (Orion/Gollancz 1-85798-327-0, Jun 2001, £6.99, 762pp, tp, cover by Chris Moore) [Fafhrd & Gray Mouser] Fantasy omnibus of the first four “Swords” books: Swords and Deviltry (Ace, 1970); Swords against Death (Ace, 1970); Swords in the Mist (Ace, 1968) and Swords against Wizardry (Ace, 1968). Volume 18 in the “Fantasy Masterworks” series.
  • 1 · Swords and Deviltry · co New York: Ace, 1970
  • 5 · Induction · vi
  • 7 · The Snow Women · na Fantastic Apr ’70
  • 81 · The Unholy Grail · nv Fantastic Oct ’62
  • 108 · Ill Met in Lankhmar · na F&SF Apr ’70
  • 171 · Swords Against Death · co New York: Ace, 1970
  • 177 · The Circle Curse · ss Swords Against Death, Ace, 1970
  • 188 · The Jewels in the Forest [“Two Sought Adventure”] · nv Unknown Aug ’39
  • 225 · Thieves’ House · nv Unknown Feb ’43
  • 258 · The Bleak Shore · ss Unknown Nov ’40
  • 269 · The Howling Tower · ss Unknown Jun ’41
  • 284 · The Sunken Land · ss Unknown Feb ’42
  • 302 · The Seven Black Priests · nv Other Worlds Science Stories May ’53
  • 328 · Claws from the Night [“Dark Vengeance”] · nv Suspense Magazine Fall ’51; Also published as ‘Claws in the Night’.
  • 354 · The Price of Pain-Ease · ss Swords Against Death, Ace, 1970
  • 367 · Bazaar of the Bizarre · nv Fantastic Aug ’63
  • 393 · Swords in the Mist · co New York: Ace, 1968
  • 399 · The Cloud of Hate · ss Fantastic May ’63
  • 413 · Lean Times in Lankhmar · nv Fantastic Nov ’59
  • 454 · Their Mistress, the Sea · ss Swords in the Mist, Ace, 1968
  • 458 · When the Sea-King’s Away · nv Fantastic May ’60
  • 484 · The Wrong Branch · ss Swords in the Mist, Ace, 1968
  • 491 · Adept’s Gambit · na Night’s Black Agents, Arkham, 1947
  • 577 · Swords Against Wizardry · co New York: Ace, 1968
  • 581 · In the Witch’s Tent · ss Swords Against Wizardry, Ace, 1968
  • 587 · Stardock · nv Fantastic Sep ’65
  • 652 · The Two Best Thieves in Lankhmar · ss Fantastic Aug ’68
  • 669 · The Lords of Quarmall · Fritz Leiber & Harry Fischer · na Fantastic in two parts: Jan and Feb ’64 

The Centipede trade edition, 2017

While Isaac Asimov's collection Nightfall and Other Stories has been out of print under its original title since sometime after the 1991 UK edition from Grafton, though it has been incorporated into The Complete Stories, Volume 1. This was the first of Asimov's collections to be a survey of his work, including stories from nearly every phase of his career up to 1969, as opposed to his earlier collections being essentially My Recent Stories (themed collections devoted to robot stories had also appeared, which were limited surveys, and Asimov's Mysteries was published the year before, likewise intentionally if loosely delimited). For no obvious reason, such key and/or engaging stories from his career as "Green Patches", "Hostess", "What If..." and "Unto the Fourth Generation" had not been included in previous volumes; one suspects "Nightfall" previously had been overlooked in part because while it was his first story to gain widespread attention, it was the work of a 19yo, and reads like such, and apparently no few people would approach Asimov in later years and inform him that it was Still the best thing he ever wrote, not the kindest thing to say to a writer...and a plaudit that several of the stories here deserve rather more, even if there's no lack of relatively minor, if amiable, joke stories here, as well (such as "Insert Knob A in Hole B" or "What Is This Thing Called Love?"). But what made the collection particularly dear to me, aside from the better stories and general sense of fun among most of the minor ones, were the chatty story introductions that were first offered in Asimov's Mysteries and here among Asimov's collections, after the first, 1962, volume of The Hugo Winners that Asimov presented rather than actually edited. That previous collections had left out the fantasy stories, for the most part, didn't hurt my feelings as I read this one before the earlier volumes (and just before Asimov's Mysteries). 

    Nightfall and Other Stories Isaac Asimov (Doubleday, 1969, hc)
    • Nightfall · nv Astounding Sep 1941
    • Green Patches · ss Galaxy Nov 1950, as “Misbegotten Missionary”
    • Hostess · nv Galaxy May 1951
    • Breeds There a Man...? · nv Astounding Jun 1951
    • The C-Chute · nv Galaxy Oct 1951
    • "In a Good Cause—" · nv New Tales of Space and Time, ed. Raymond J. Healy, Holt 1951
    • What If... · ss Fantastic Sum 1952
    • Sally · ss Fantastic May/Jun 1953
    • Flies · ss F&SF Jun 1953
    • Nobody Here But— · ss Star Science Fiction Stories #1, ed. Frederik Pohl, Ballantine 1953
    • It’s Such a Beautiful Day · nv Star Science Fiction Stories #3, ed. Frederik Pohl, Ballantine 1954
    • Strikebreaker · ss Science Fiction Stories Jan 1957, as “Male Strikebreaker”
    • Insert Knob A in Hole B · vi F&SF Dec 1957
    • The Up-to-Date Sorcerer · ss F&SF Jul 1958
    • Unto the Fourth Generation · ss F&SF Apr 1959
    • What Is This Thing Called Love? · ss Amazing Mar 1961, as Playboy and the Slime God”
    • The Machine That Won the War · ss F&SF Oct 1961
    • My Son, the Physicist! · vi Scientific American Feb 1962
    • Eyes Do More Than See · vi F&SF Apr 1965
    • Segregationist · ss Abbottempo Apr 1967

  • The Complete Stories, Volume One Isaac Asimov (Doubleday Foundation 0-385-41606-7, Nov ’90 [Oct ’90], $22.95, 614pp, hc, cover by Barclay Shaw) Omnibus collection of 46 stories, comprising the complete contents of Earth Is Room Enough (Doubleday 1957), Nine Tomorrows (Doubleday 1957), and Nightfall and Other Stories (Doubleday 1969). Also available in trade paperback (-41627-X).
    • vii · Introduction · in
    • · Earth Is Room Enough · co Garden City, NY: Doubleday Oct ’57
    • 3 · The Dead Past · nv Astounding Apr ’56
    • 41 · The Foundation of Science Fiction Success · pm F&SF Oct ’54
    • 43 · Franchise · ss If Aug ’55
    • 57 · Gimmicks Three [“The Brazen Locked Room”] · ss F&SF Nov ’56
    • 62 · Kid Stuff · ss Beyond Fantasy Fiction Sep ’53
    • 73 · The Watery Place · ss Satellite Oct ’56
    • 77 · Living Space · ss Science Fiction Stories May ’56
    • 89 · The Message · vi F&SF Feb ’56
    • 91 · Satisfaction Guaranteed [Susan Calvin (Robot)] · ss Amazing Apr ’51
    • 104 · Hell-Fire · vi Fantastic Universe May ’56
    • 106 · The Last Trump · ss Fantastic Universe Jun ’55
    • 120 · The Fun They Had · ss The Boys and Girls Page Dec 1 ’51; F&SF Feb ’54
    • 123 · Jokester · ss Infinity Science Fiction Dec ’56
    • 135 · The Immortal Bard · vi Universe May ’54
    • 138 · Someday · ss Infinity Science Fiction Aug ’56
    • 146 · The Author’s Ordeal · pm Science Fiction Quarterly May ’57
    • 149 · Dreaming Is a Private Thing · ss F&SF Dec ’55
    • · Nine Tomorrows · co Garden City, NY: Doubleday, 1959
    • 162 · Profession · na Astounding Jul ’57
    • 208 · The Feeling of Power · ss If Feb ’58
    • 217 · The Dying Night [Wendell Urth] · nv F&SF Jul ’56
    • 239 · I’m in Marsport Without Hilda · ss Venture Nov ’57
    • 250 · The Gentle Vultures · ss Super Science Fiction Dec ’57
    • 263 · All the Troubles of the World · ss Super Science Fiction Apr ’58
    • 277 · Spell My Name with an S [“S as in Zebatinsky”] · ss Star Science Fiction Magazine Jan ’58
    • 290 · The Last Question · ss Science Fiction Quarterly Nov ’56
    • 301 · The Ugly Little Boy [“Lastborn”] · nv Galaxy Sep ’58
    • · Nightfall and Other Stories · co Garden City, NY: Doubleday, 1969
    • 334 · Nightfall · nv Astounding Sep ’41
    • 363 · Green Patches [“Misbegotten Missionary”] · ss Galaxy Nov ’50
    • 376 · Hostess · nv Galaxy May ’51
    • 408 · Breeds There a Man...? · nv Astounding Jun ’51
    • 438 · The C-Chute · nv Galaxy Oct ’51
    • 468 · “In a Good Cause—” · nv New Tales of Space and Time, ed. Raymond J. Healy, Holt, 1951
    • 489 · What If... · ss Fantastic Sum ’52
    • 500 · Sally · ss Fantastic May/Jun ’53
    • 515 · Flies · ss F&SF Jun ’53
    • 521 · Nobody Here But— · ss Star Science Fiction Stories #1, ed. Frederik Pohl, Ballantine, 1953
    • 531 · It’s Such a Beautiful Day · nv Star Science Fiction Stories #3, ed. Frederik Pohl, Ballantine, 1954
    • 550 · Strikebreaker [“Male Strikebreaker”] · ss Science Fiction Stories Jan ’57
    • 561 · Insert Knob A in Hole B · vi F&SF Dec ’57
    • 563 · The Up-to-Date Sorcerer · ss F&SF Jul ’58
    • 575 · Unto the Fourth Generation · ss F&SF Apr ’59
    • 582 · What Is This Thing Called Love? [“Playboy and the Slime God”] · ss Amazing Mar ’61
    • 593 · The Machine That Won the War · ss F&SF Oct ’61
    • 598 · My Son, the Physicist! · vi Scientific American Feb ’62
    • 602 · Eyes Do More Than See · vi F&SF Apr ’65
    • 605 · Segregationist · ss Abbottempo Apr ’67
    • 610 · I Just Make Them Up, See! · pm F&SF Feb ’58
    • 613 · Rejection Slips · pm Nine Tomorrows, Garden City, NY: Doubleday, 1959

    the above collection also includes some selections also in:
    Asimov’s Mysteries Isaac Asimov (Doubleday, 1968, hc)
    • Introduction · in
    • The Singing Bell [Wendell Urth] · ss F&SF Jan 1955
    • The Talking Stone [Wendell Urth] · ss F&SF Oct 1955
    • What’s in a Name · ss The Saint Detective Magazine Jun 1956, as “Death of a Honey-Blonde”
    • The Dying Night [Wendell Urth] · nv F&SF Jul 1956
    • Pâté de Foie Gras · ss Astounding Sep 1956
    • The Dust of Death · ss Venture Jan 1957
    • A Loint of Paw · vi F&SF Aug 1957
    • I’m in Marsport Without Hilda · ss Venture Nov 1957
    • Marooned Off Vesta [Brandon, Shea & Moore] · ss Amazing Mar 1939
    • Anniversary [Brandon, Shea & Moore] · ss Amazing Mar 1959
    • Obituary · ss F&SF Aug 1959
    • Star Light · ss Scientific American Oct 1962, as “Starlight!”
    • The Key [Wendell Urth] · nv F&SF Oct 1966
    • The Billiard Ball · nv If Mar 1967
For more of today's books, please see Patti Abbott's blog.
Indices courtesy William Contento/Locus/ISFDB/Galactic Central.


Rick Robinson said...

I have that first edition paperback, as well as the omnibus, but since I several other paperback F&GM paperbacks, I chose not to shell out big bucks for the more recent collections. Nice review.

George said...

Two classic works! I read all the Fafhrd And The Gray Mouser stories. Wonderful stuff! I read Asimov avidly in the Sixties, but his work in the Seventies held less appeal to me.

Todd Mason said...

Thanks, gentlemen. Yes, I have to argue with myself before making any purchase at the moment, and while I'd like the supplementary materials, I'd also like them to also be available to people who can't drop $75 on a single book. Ah, well.

Even in the '70s, some of his stories (up to the "The Bicentennial Man" and some of the other shorter works) were worthwhile, even if the novels which come to mind, not so much. The autobiographies were good, if seemingly a bit more revealing in some ways than I think he realized, at least about his family's dynamics. Or so I hope. And the pop-science work and many of the anthologies were definitely good or better.

Todd Mason said...

You know, despite all the talent at work on these books' covers, the only ones above I'm fully satisfied with are the Mignola cover for the White Wolf omnibus, and the Paul Lehr and good typography balance on the Fawcett paperback for the Asimov collection. Even the Jones (first edition and, reframed, subsequent Ace editions, and the 1970 FANTASTIC) and Barlowe (Gregg Press) covers, which are handsome pieces of illustration, don't make the most effective covers to me...though the version of the Barlowe used on the Berkley edition of NIGHTS BLACK AGENTS is much better thus. Even the handsome UK NIGHTFALL cover isn't actually depicting what's about to occur correctly, for what it's worth. And the Bonestell on the F&SF is typically handsome, but probably on this issue as the result of having to rush scheduling of the Leiber novella to accommodate the book's publication time to commission a painting for the story. (Or in consideration of the truism that sf covers, or at least astronomical ones, would outsell fantasy covers on F&SF...on FANTASTIC, the only circulation spikes were apparently driven by advertising the latter-day Conan stories that magazine would run in the '70s).

Jerry House said...

Todd, I must have been twelve or thirteen when I first encountered Leiber's work via the Fafhrd/Gray Mouser story "The Bleak Shore." I had been an active reader but this was something far beyond anything I had previously experienced. (The next time I was so wowed by an author was when I read Avram Davidson's "The Necessity of His Condition.") "The Bleak Shore" was not Leiber's best story but it has remained with me for half a century and was one of my main gateways to adult literature.

Rich Horton said...

Which stories do you credit to Fischer besides the abortive initial draft of "The Lords of Quarmall", Todd? (And his much later solo story, "The Childhood and Youth of the Grey Mouser".)

Anyway, I agree -- "Ill Met in Lankhmar" is the best of all the Lankhmar stories.

I do remember that first edition of NIGHTFALL AND OTHER STORIES. One of the earlier adult SF books I read, borrowed from Nichols Library in Naperville, IL. It's actually got a lot of pretty strong stories besides "Nightfall" -- "Green Patches", "The C-Chute", "Breeds There a Man?". And I miss the canonical collections -- THE MARTIAN WAY, NINE TOMORROWS, EARTH IS ROOM ENOUGH. That's how the stories should be organized, in my mind! (I, ROBOT as well, of course, and I suppose too the first three FOUNDATION books.)

Todd Mason said...

Jerry--I'd read something by Leiber, enough to know his name, when I picked up the first back issue I'd read of F&SF and found his next F&GM story after "Ill-Met in Lankhmar", "The Price of Pain-Ease" and was hooked. I would've been just 13yo, myself, the Golden Age by some reckoning (some insist twelve). Did you read "The Bleak Shore" in D. R. Bensen's THE UNKNONW, perhaps?

I'm not the one to credit anything to Fischer vs. Leiber, Rich...Leiber himself noted somewhere that, aside from the devising together the background and circumstances of the two characters, that some segment of "Adept's Gambit" (if I'm not mistaken) was also Fischer's work. Though I'd like to see or hear (it might've been a recording) that citation again, I'll admit.

Nearly every non-joke story in the Asimov book is, frankly, stronger than "Nightfall"'s not the monument that it's often credited with being...and I'd agree, the original collections not being available is a shame. Though my point was, it's odd that these stories we cite weren't included in the These Are My Recent Stories collections we cite, along with their contemporaries. I can see why, with "Nightfall", but it's less clear to me when not "Hostess" or "C-Chute"...perhaps they were still in print in anthologies, but that still seems an odd choice on Asimov's part, or Doubleday's. And while the fixup that is THE FOUNDATION TRILOGY can be considered a story collection, I'd say the robot stories books (including THE REST OF THE ROBOTS and eventual later additions) are the only "real" if thematically limited "survey" books Asimov published before NAOS. At least they finally picked up that money on the table.