Small House of Everything

Small House of Everything

Tuesday, March 9, 2021


 "Rats of Limbo" by Fritz Leiber (from Fantastic Science Fiction Stories, August 1960; never reprinted to my knowledge)

The blurb for this story read, "Every writer must have his fun.  One has his fun -- and gives you some, too -- in this little tale, fable, sketch, scrap (crumb?)."  I read this 3-page crumb a bit more than sixty years ago and it has stayed with me since then -- that was when I realized that Leiber was a great writer, and my opinion has never changed.

I won't describe it because I there is no way I can do it justice.  Suffice it to say that it is a chilling, surrealistic tale of the consequences of having both a bad memory and a most powerful imagination.

Below is a link from Internet Archive for the entire August 1960 issue of Fantastic*.  The story begins on page 33.  See if your opinion matches mine.

[*Also in this issue are stories by Robert Bloch, Eric Frank Russell, Arthur Porges, Frederic [sic] Brown, and Robert F. Young, as well as the conclusion of Jack Sharkey's "The Crispin Affair" and Sam Moskowitz's profile of M. P. Shiel and H. F. Heard, "The Neglected Thinkers of SF."]


  1. Thanks for the heads-up! And the reminder how best to spell Fredric in Brown's case..."Success" by Leiber was another vignette, even shorter, which was in F&SF in '63 but other than being picked up and translated into French by FICTION, the French edition of F&SF, waited apparently till 2002 before being collected otherwise, and then only in a very limited edition collection.(About ten years earlier, I asked the Leiber estate's agent for a "floor" fee for reprinting Leiber's three family playlets and "Success", for a printed fanzine I was helping publish, and got no reply...they've still never been reprinted together)..."The Secret Songs", "237 Talking Statues, Etc." and "The Winter Flies"/"The Inner Circles" (as Ed Ferman preferred to publish it).

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  3. And now I get to read another Leiber without leaving my chair.

  4. Haven't read Leiber, Jerry, and just might not--ever. Horror stories bother me. I get enuf real horror from the world right now.

    1. Leiber did not write only horror, Matt. Science fiction, fantasy, sword and sorcery, and brilliant satire are also in his multi-talented quiver. His Change War series, DESTINY TIMES THREE, THE GREEN MILLENIUM, THE SILVER EGGHEADS, and THE WANDERER are all recommended SF novels. His Fafhrd and the Grey Mouser stories are classic Sword & Sorcery. His Gummitch the Cat stories are wonderful fantasies. Leiber's unique vision and talent place him among the greatest writers of the 20th century who went well beyond the Science Fiction/Fantasy/Horror genres.