Hugo: The Big Time (1958)

The Big Time by Fritz Leiber
Read January 5, 2009

Premise: People (and extra-terrestrial creatures) from all time-periods, races, religions, and alternate histories of Earth are pulled out of their respective “life-lines” to become “demons” or creatures who are neither alive nor dead and exist in the void of “The Big Time.” They are warriors in the enormous battle to change “the Little Time” or the one in which they existed to begin with. Demons in the Big Time time-travel and screw around with Earth’s history (the Little Time) in order to ensure that their side (The Spiders of Western culture and the Snakes of Eastern culture) win the grand battle of intergalactic awesomeness. There are Soldiers who do all the fighting and Entertainers who take the Soldiers’ minds off how screwed-up it all is. This story takes place in one of the Entertainment venues.

Verdict: If you like time-travel, Steampunk, alternate history, science fiction, real-life history, literature, or any combination of the above then this book is for you. The warriors range from actual German Nazi, to fuzzy extra-terrestrial with tentacles, to Roman soldier, to WWI-era British poet. The entertainers include a Southern gentleman dandy, a far-future other-planet dwelling madame, and an English Renaissance… well, Renaissance man. The entire premise had me captured right up until the plot decided to turn all whack-ass and insist that all humans want babies, despite the fact that this is physically impossible for Demons.

I am, at least, learning something of the psychology of men. It seems that the only purpose they can devise within their thick skulls for the existence of women is to reproduce. And this, in their mind, is all that women desire to do. News for the men: I’d kill myself before adding more humans to Earth’s population. If this novel hadn’t verved off into Penis-and-Vagina Land it would have been kick-ass. As it was, I was again bombarded with the trite notion that females are imbecilic baby-making machines. That being said, the narrator was female and mostly sort of intelligent. There was a kick-ass female warrior who was bare breasted and just as psychotic and awesome as the psychotic Nazi. But the ultimate plot-hinging kicker was that a weak-ass woman wanted babies. Apparently, if a woman is in a male-written work of SciFi from 1979 or before it is to desire to reproduce and hold the men back.

And ok, seeing as how this was written in 1957 (which I didn’t know while reading it), I might have to rescind some of my bitchier comments. This was probably pretty bold, gender-wise, for 1957. I’ll stop griping and call it awesome.

Ultimately, this is a sort of mystery novel. But I won’t try to describe that part to you because it would take me as long as the book does to do it right.

This took me about three hours to read. And it was very cool. Go for it.

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