The Big Time
Monday, January 23, 2012
The Big Time
Fritz Leiber, 1957
Premise: What starts out as a usual day for The Place - rest stop for soldiers in the Change War - becomes much more dangerous as personalities, ideologies and plots clash between the soliders and the entertainers.
I'm less sold on the ending: the closing speeches are a bit silly to me, but the plot itself is very nice. The introduction of the edition I read compared it to a stage drama, and I would too: a collection of people come to a place under great stress, and begin to love and fight and argue, shifting alliances and dealing with interpersonal conflict.
The cast of characters is what makes the story zing along. There's Greta and the other Entertainers: Sid who runs the Place, Beau the pianist, Doc the drunk (every bar has a drunk, even those suspended in the Void), the other girls: Maud the therapist and cynic, Lili the young and romantic. Add to this three soldiers: Erich, brash, bossy and proud, Mark, broken and quiet, and Bruce, firey and young. Plus three more, rescued from near death, two non-humans and Kaby, an ancient amazon. And then there's a bomb and a mutiny. Sparks fly.
It's short, which is good, although it still comes to the edge of wearing out its premise. Despite a lackluster denoument, this is still a solid exploration of humanity in extremis.
3 Stars - A Good Book
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