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The Wanderer by Fritz Leiber

The Wanderer (1964)

by Fritz Leiber

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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English (16)  French (1)  All languages (17)
Showing 1-5 of 16 (next | show all)
Fritz is brilliant but a bit strange. His books have a different feel and this is no exception. I struggled to get through parts of this book but was amazed by other parts. It's uneven and unnecessarily long and very dated. It's not for everyone. Worth a read if you are interested in Classic SF. ( )
  ikeman100 | May 6, 2017 |
Solid science fiction about the impacts of a planet-sized space craft appearing next to Earth with the likely impacts of their gravity. Some exploration of the damage to society and interaction with some of the alien species. References a number of 50s science fiction series. ( )
  brakketh | Aug 9, 2016 |
Sometimes we forget just how long the global disaster story has existed. You know the kind –the stories of individuals are told in front of the backdrop “the world is coming to an end!” It can really be traced all the way back to the beginning of science fiction (wherever you want to mark that start).) And it is a staple, its popularity ebbing and flowing just as any trend. But I think that, because books are so much longer now (particularly science fiction books), many people fall into the trap of thinking it has only now become really popular.

I was reminded of this as I read Leiber’s book, first published in 1964. A cataclysmic disaster befalls human kind and we watch its impact on the lives of the people scattered throughout the globe. Fifty years ago and this type of story was a staple.

These types of stories can be fun, they can be tedious, they can run the same gamut of possibilities as any novel. However, this one has two things going for it. The first is that it was written by Fritz Leiber. That should be enough right there. However, the other thing going for it is that Leiber has based this disaster on a very strange but potentially scientifically accurate scenario. Sure, it’s a little far-fetched to think that a planet can appear out of nowhere next to the moon. But Leiber has done his homework (as the greats always do) and makes us believe, with a mix of verisimilitude and science, that this could really be happening.

This is a reminder of why some of us have not “outgrown” science fiction – grand experiences told within the human experience.

After some background into the lives of the people we will be following, the novel dives into its strange premise. A planet appears next to the moon. It has a disastrous impact on the moon as the planet begins sucking pieces of the moon into the planet’s gravity field. And, of course, that much extra mass out there has an effect on the earth – earthquakes, weather, and, of course, huge tides.

Through the travails of various individuals (including one who is located on the moon), we see the impacts of these disasters. Many of these people don’t make it to the end of the book, but our main protagonists do. And, as many of these books do, this one ends with a promise that the human spirit will prevail.

Okay, that last sentence is unfair. It makes it seem that the book is trite. And that is not the case. As I’ve noted, Leiber is a craftsman and does his job well in this book.

However, there are a few quibbles. First, there are a couple of sex scenes (60s sex scenes – don’t worry) that really stink. They should be expurgated in all future editions. I also felt the introduction of the aliens (whoops, kind of a spoiler) and that important plot point wasn’t handled well. When it first occurred, I got very upset about its inclusion and, while I eventually got used to it and it began to work, at first I just wanted to get back to the other parts of the story. In addition, some of the alien sections didn’t gibe well. Why two such completely different responses from two aliens? Why should we shift from thinking of them as bad guys to victims?

And finally, because the book isn’t a 600-page extravaganza (the type we seem to have fallen in love with), there isn’t much time available to deeply explore the lives of anyone outside of the three major protagonists. Most of the others are fleshed out as more than cardboard, but they are pure supporting characters that appear to be put in to show the rest of the world and break up the main story.

But all that being said, the book is good. And it is fun to read. Were it written today, it would probably have to be a trilogy (or tetralogy or whatever length someone like George R. R. Martin is going for.) There would be deep dives into all of the ancillary characters and numbing pages of exposition. Yes, I might have wanted to see more than we were given, but I am not convinced such an expansion would have made this a better book.

Ultimately, I am happy with what we have…and satisfied that nothing more really need be added. ( )
1 vote figre | Jun 11, 2016 |
The Wanderer first came out in 1964. It was probably considered smutty back then. Now, it's almost tame. The story follows what happens to persons in various parts of the world when a planet-sized object appears near our moon.

The American characters range from scientists to stoners. The non-American characters also range in occupation. The Wanderer (the name given to the object), has a catastrophic influence on the tides and the weather. I won't go so far as to say Earth's population is drastically reduced, but reduced it definitely is.

Mr. Leiber jumps from the adventure of one character or group of characters, coming back to them to let us know how they're doing. Not everyone survives.

There will be some use of the N word, mostly from white bigots against a group of African-Americans traveling with their rich, old, sick white employer. No, he doesn't regain consciousness only to save the day with a few well-chosen words during all of their adventures, although white supremacists would hate one of his remarks. One bigot's remarks about college-educated N-words and science was particularly offensive, but Barbara was right and he was wrong.

I was offended by the fact that the drunk fares better than the stoners, though both provide cautionary tales about needing to be able to think clearly when disaster strikes. (Some of the humor is of the gallows variety. Some I didn't find funny.)

The astronaut gets his name on the back of the book, but aside from using the memory of one of Edgar Rice Burroughs' Mars books to save his life and an interesting tour of the Wanderer, his best friend, Paul, gets more time. I found Paul's interactions with a lovely alien cat lady one of the best parts of the book.

Mr. Leiber even provides a possible solution to a famous unsolved murder during one of the segments following a group of flying saucer students.

Because I watch the science channel, I can't be as optimistic about the book's end as the author was.

Dog lovers: there's a German shepherd named Ragnarok.
Cat lovers: I'm not sure how her name is spelled, but there's a dear cat named Meow. ( )
  JalenV | Apr 29, 2016 |
I just finished it. I can see how this won the Hugo. A lot of references to this history of the genre, and to fandom. Unfortunately, it also has a lot of thin characterization, and probably needed a significant editor. You can tell that Leiber is trying to capture the immensity of the disaster that would be caused by such an event, a planet like ship coming into orbit, but most of it feels tedious and repetitive. It has some interesting science fictional moments, for instance thinking through the effect on the tides, but most of the satire falls flat, and occasionally slips into racist stereotype. The literary references often feel forced as well. ( )
  wrobert | Jan 17, 2014 |
Showing 1-5 of 16 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (8 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Fritz Leiberprimary authorall editionscalculated
Avon, JohnCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Castle, PhilipCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Ebell, RobertCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Ellis, DeanCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Groot, RuurdCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Walotsky, RonCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed

References to this work on external resources.

Wikipedia in English


Book description
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0575071125, Paperback)

All eyes were watching the eclipse of the Moon when the Wanderer--a huge, garishly colored artificial world--emerged. Only a few scientists even suspected its presence, and then, suddenly and silently, it arrived, dwarfing and threatening the Moon and wreaking havoc on Earth's tides and weather. Though the Wanderer is stopping in the solar system only to refuel, its mere presence is catastrophic. A tense, thrilling, and towering achievement. Winner of the Hugo Award for Best SF Novel of the Year!

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:21:05 -0400)

(see all 3 descriptions)

The Wanderer inspires feelings of pure terror in the hearts of the five billion human beings inhabiting Planet Earth. The presence of an alien planet causes increasingly severe tragedies and chaos. However, one man stands apart from the mass of frightened humanity. For him, the legendary Wanderer is a mere tale of bizarre alien domination and human submission. His conception of the Wanderer bleeds into unrequited love for the mysterious "she" who owns him. Join science fiction master Fritz Leiber, winner of both the Hugo and Nebula Awards, as he concocts a powerful allegorical novel that pierces to the heart of the human condition.… (more)

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