(Richard Powers’ cover for the 1964 edition)
4/5 (Collated rating: Good)
My only previous exposure to Fritz Leiber was his enjoyable and highly experimental Hugo-winning novel The Big Time (1958) — an unusual story (evoking a one-act play) whose characters are soldiers recruited from all eras of history relaxing in between missions during a vast temporal war. The same sort of invention and incisive wit abounds in the collection A Pail of Air (1964). Against a post-apocalyptical backdrop that runs throughout most of the stories, Leiber’s stories are chimeric (and satirical) parables on a vast spectrum of themes — the mechanization of the future, gender relations, endless war, media saturation… The stories shift between whimsical delight and gut-wrenching despair.
This collection of eleven stories from the early 50s to the early 60s is highly recommended for all SF fans — especially the title story “A Pail of Air” (1951), “The Foxholes of Mars” (1952), Continue reading