Leiber, Fritz, 1910

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Leiber, Fritz, 1910

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Fritz Lieber was born in Chicago, Illinois December 24, 1910. He attained a Ph. B. from the University of Chicago in 1932. He served as an Episcopal minister, a Shakspearian actor, an editor, and a writing instructor. In 1943, his work began appearing in Weird Tales and Unknown Worlds. Leiber is well-known and well regarded in the field. His novels, Conjure Wife, Gather, Darkness, A Specter is Haunting Texas, the Silver Eggheads, and his stories and novels of Lankhmar are all popular favorites with science fiction fans. Leiber received eight Hugo awards, three Nebula awards, the Gandalf Award, and three World Fantasy Awards, plus a number of awards for horror. He is a central figure in the Golden Age of Science Fiction.

Fritz Reuter Leiber, Jr. was a central figure during the so-called "Golden Age of Science Fiction". Thanks to his legendary Fafhrd and the Grey Mouser stories, of which the first, "Two Sought Adventure" was published in August 1939 in Unknown Magazine, he is also considered one of the founders of the genre of sword-and-sorcery fantasy fiction (in fact, he invented the term). Born in Chicago, Illinois on December 24, 1910, Leiber graduated from the University of Chicago in 1932 with a degree in philosophy. Before embarking on a full-time writing career he studied at the Anglican-based General Theological Seminary and worked as a lay preacher, and also toured with his parents' acting company. From 1941-1947 he was a speech and drama instructor at Los Angeles' Occidental College, and from 1947-1958 was the editor of Science Digestin Chicago. In 1958 he left that post to write full-time.

Leiber had already been writing for two decades before that, however. (His earliest stories bear dates of 1934 and 1935.) His most important works include the novels Conjure Wife (1943, which could be considered a precursor to the urban fantasy genre in that it is one of the first novels to involve witches living in the modern world); Gather, Darkness! (1950); The Big Time (1958), which won the 1958 Hugo Award for Best Novel; The Wanderer (1964), which won the 1965 Hugo Award for Best Novel; and A Specter is Haunting Texas (serialized 1968, published as a novel 1969). He wrote a legion of short stories, which were collected in a number of collections that include Night's Black Agents (1947); A Pail of Air (1964); The Book of Fritz Leiber (1974); and The Second Book of Fritz Leiber (1975).

Leiber is most famous for his stories about Fafhrd and the Grey Mouser, two wandering adventurers who live in the fictional world of Nehwon ("no-when" spelled backwards) and are general opposites. Fafhrd is a huge and highly skilled barbarian, while the Mouser is a diminutive yet deadly-with-the-sword thief. The two engage in rollocking and exciting adventures across Nehwon, particularly in and around the city of Lankhmar. Leiber wrote these stories starting in 1939, with the last one appearing in 1988. The characters were co-created by Leiber and his friend Harry Otto Fischer, in an attempt to develop fantasy characters groundedmore on realistic human nature than were Howard's Conan or Burroughs' Tarzan. Fafhrd and the Grey Mouser appeared in numerous short stories, novellas, comic book adaptations, and even games (Leiber and Fischer invented a wargame set within Nehwon in 1937, that under the name Lankhmar was reworked and released as a simplified boardgame by TSR in 1976.)

Leiber married Jonquil Stephens in 1936; the two had a son, Justin, in 1938. Jonquil died in 1969, which caused Lieber to move to San Francisco and descend temporarily into alcoholism. In 1977 he returned to the literary world with the semi-autobiographical (and heavily Jungian) novel Our Lady of Darkness, which won the World Fantasy Award for Best Novel in 1978. In 1992, Leiber met and married Margo Skinner, and he died on September 5, 1992.

Leiber was nominated for and/or won a number of awards in the course of his career. Besides the awards mentioned above, he also won the 1962 Hugo Special Award for the Use of SF in Advertisements, the 1968 Hugo and Nebula Awards for Best Novelette for Gonna Roll The Bones, the 1970 Hugo Award for Best Novella for Ship of Shadows, the 1971 Hugo and Nebula Awards for Best Novella for Ill-Met in Lankhmar, the 1975 Locus Poll Award for Best Single Author Collection for The Book of Fritz Leiber, the 1976 BFA Award for Best Short Story for The Second Book of Fritz Leiber, the 1976 Hugo and Nebula Awards for Best Short Story for "Catch That Zeppelin!", the 1976 World Fantasy Award for Best Short Fiction for "Belsen Express", the 1981 Balrog Special Award, and (posthumously) the 2011 LocusPoll Award for Best Collection for Fritz Leiber: Selected Stories.

In addition, Leiber also received the 1975 Gandalf Award for Grandmaster of Fantasy, the 1976 World Fantasy Award for Life Achievement, and in 1981 was made a Grand MAster by the SFWA.


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