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Destiny Times Three by Fritz Leiber
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Destiny Times Three (1945)

by Fritz Leiber

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One of the grand old men of science fiction, Fritz Leiber’s fiction spanned six decades and included such novels as The Big Time (which won the Hugo Award for Best Novel in 1958) and Conjure Wife (which has been adapted for film no less than three times, with a fourth adaptation currently underway). Largely forgotten, however, is his 1945 novel Destiny Times Three, nominated for Best Novel in the retroactive 1946 Hugo Awards.

The primary action of Destiny Times Three takes place in a utopian far-future Earth. Poverty has been eliminated, everyone is well-educated and psychologically balanced, and the majority of humankind live in cities composed of single, enormously tall buildings, leaving most of the land to the wilderness. There is no war, no suffering, and no want; thanks in large part to a relatively new and virtually limitless energy source known as subtronics.

However, it seems all may not be well; or so believe our protagonists: Clawly, a member of the governing World Executive Committee, and Thorn, a scientist investigating the nature of dreams. They believe that an increasing incidence of nightmares, cryptic amnesia, and Capgras delusion point to some kind of intrusion of alien minds into their world. In fact, our heroes eventually discover what we would today refer to as parallel universes, each vastly different due to the way it used subtronics, and a plot by the government of one of these alternate Earths to take over utopia.

It’s an interesting premise, but unfortunately the execution is somewhat sloppy. Leiber’s biggest mistake is the inclusion of a character who exists solely as a plot device. For some reason he felt the need to explain why these parallel universes existed, and to that end has a chapter completely devoted to exposition on this subject. Furthermore, the climax of the novel is really little more than a deus ex machina and is consequently not very satisfying. Leiber would have been better off concentrating on the characterization of Clawly and Thorn – who are little more than vehicles through which the reader observes the several Earths of the novel – than focusing on creating a happy ending. ( )
  stochasticooze | Oct 21, 2011 |
This is a forking path novel with a twist, set in the early days of atomic power. Leiber gives us a heavy dose of anti-totalitarianism intermixed with some interesting ideas about the downside of abundant cheap energy. This book might have been quite a bit better if he hadn't been forced to truncate it severely (including eliminating all female characters) for wartime serialization. ( )
1 vote clong | Apr 9, 2011 |
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» Add other authors (2 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Fritz Leiberprimary authorall editionscalculated
Dillon, DianeCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Dillon, LeoCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Die Esche Yggdrasil
muss schlimm Unbill dulden
mehr als man meint:

Der Hirsch weidet den Wipfel
Die Wurzeln nagt Nidhög
an den Flanken Fäulnis frisst


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Die Schlussakkorde der Vierten Synchromie Hoddersons, der »Yggdrasil« verschauerten, Nordlichtern gleich, in grünlich-blauen Leuchtfäden zu einem Bild des Schweigens.
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