Fritz Leiber: THE WANDERER

Published: 1965
Winner or Rec? Hugo winner
Started reading: August 4th, 2014
Finished reading: August 5th, 2014

Epic Reading Project book #15

Good god. You know, I quite like Leiber’s fantasy (with a caveat, but we’ll talk more about that when we get up to ILL MET IN LANKHMAR) but his scifi — this book? And THE BIG TIME, which I’ve already written about? And, gods save me, OUR LADY OF DARKNESS, which is a wayyyyyys ahead of us still? Hate ’em. Hate all of ’em.

This book OUGHT to be fascinating — a planet suddenly appears in our sky, close enough to be bigger than the moon, and shit goes down. The coolest parts of this book for me were the lavish and exacting descriptions of what shit would go down and in what order, if a celestial body of that magnitude suddenly appeared in our vicinity: The tides going crazy and huge, the earthquakes, the catastrophe…

But again I find myself writing this: I didn’t really care about anybody in the book. The fatal flaw in so many of these books from the early days of scifi! I don’t need dozens of viewpoints, I just need one (1) really interesting person who I can get to know and become friends with. And there is a LOT of pointless fluff and filler in this book. And sex with an intensely desirable alien woman. SIGH*.

*Okay, you get a  bonus rant here. I have such an objection to “intensely desirable alien women”, and not just Because Feminism, but also Because Goddamn Evolution. It’s an alien. It is a species that has evolved in total isolation from our own. The chances of evolution having given them the same traits that we are wired to find desirable is vanishingly small. We as a species would not have a compulsion to fuck aliens for the same reason that we as a species are not compelled to fuck horses, or mountain lions, or even chimpanzees (we’re ignoring the statistical outliers here, the weirdos who are into bestiality).  Do you want to fuck this tree?

Of course you don’t.

It’s a goddamn tree. It’s a really COOL goddamn tree, but a goddamn tree it is.

The lack of sexual feeling you’re experiencing right now is the same you would experience towards aliens of your preferred gender**. Here’s a TED talk about evolution and what we find sexy.

**Except there’s no way to know if your preferred gender of humans would also be your preferred gender of aliens. You could be heterosexual toward humans and homosexual towards aliens!***

***This is assuming that aliens have a similar gender spectrum to humans, which is another ridiculously anthropocentric idea. Aliens could have fifteen distinct genders and maybe you’d only find four of them attractive enough to bump uglies with, YOU DON’T KNOW.



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