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Fritz Leiber – The Wanderer

Title: The Wanderer
Fritz Leiber
Year: 1964

Most of the Hugo winners are good novels. I do not always think they are prize-worthy, but most of the time I can understand why other people think that they are. Not so with the works of Fritz Leiber. He has written two novels winning the Hugo Award, The Big Time (1968) and The Wanderer (1964), and even though I find some of the author’s short stories brilliant, I simply do not get the point of these two novels. Even though I have read several positive reviews, I still fail to see why they even got published in the first place.

The Wanderer tells a multifaceted story about the sudden appearance of a new planet in the solar system. Of course, it wreaks havoc in many ways, causing devastating tides and panic in major cities. The narration is separated into numerous threads covering different aspects and angles of the catastrophe.

I think the The Wanderer is dull, uninteresting, too long (only 300 pages, but feels like 1000), badly written, and poorly proof-read (I found at least ten spelling errors, even though I read pretty fast). The multiple story lines do indeed depict many angels on the same event, but most of the are totally pointless. Admittedly, some of them are marginally interesting, but not enough to make the reading worth-while. And it is not as if the event thus covered is very spectacular or that Leiber adds some element to make it unpredictable.

When I grade books, I normally begin at five snails and then remove snails or half snails for flaws or imperfections (language, themes, plot, etcetera). However, with The Wanderer, I will start at the other end of the spectrum, adding one snail for the interesting parts of the event (mainly the description of the effects on tides), and a half snail for well-written characters.

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