Book Cover
Title The Wanderer
Series ---
Author Fritz Leiber
Cover Art John Harris
Publisher Gollancz - 2001
First Printing 1964
Category Post-apocalypse
Warnings None

Main Characters

Miaow, Margo, Paul, Don, Guillermo, Dai, Richard, Wolf, Captain Sithwise, Sally, Jake, Barbara, Mr. Kettering, Bagong, Asa, General Stevens, Arab Jones, High Bundy, Pepe Martinez, Rama Joan, Charlie, Ross, Ann, Rudolph, Clarence
Main Elements Aliens

All eyes were watching the eclipse of the Moon when the Wanderer came. Only a few scientists had even suspected it's presence, and then, suddenly and silently, it was there, dwarfing and threatening the Moon, wreaking havoc on Earth with the tides and the weather. The huge, garishly coloured artificial world is a vast, impersonal force travelling through hyperspace, stopping in the Solar System only to refuel. But its mere presence is a catastrophe for the inhabitants of Earth, who all struggle to survive the climactic chaos it unleashes.

The Wanderer is Fritz Leiber's towering SF achievement. It was the deserved winner of the Hugo Award when it was first published and , with its multi-viewpoint technique and tense, thrilling narrative, it is the model for all subsequent disaster novels. It brilliantly describes the days of chaos as total destruction threatens the Earth.

Ok, now I know who to blame for this style of book, if Leiber was the first to write the multi-viewpoint disaster novel then he's to blame for the snorefests that are the other famous post-apocalypse novels like The Stand by Stephen King and The Passage by Justin Cronin (apparently it is also required to have a one word title).

Now all those three books are incredibly famous and popular...but I just don't get it. The multi-viewpoints actually distract and spread the tension out so thin you end up not really caring about any of the characters, there's just too many of them. Also the actual disaster, since you need to keep jumping from one viewpoint to the next, repeat their experiences, moves forward at a snail's pace. So while it is interesting to see over two dozen viewpoints of the same event, I personally find it incredibly boring.

Now this book has a saving grace, Miaow. Now, as a cat owner, I know there is no way Miaow would have tolerated spending what amounted to hours of being carried around in her owner's arms, in a convertible, during earthquakes and landslides, in the presence of an agressive dog, and more. There are laid back cats, but not that laid back. But still, she's a cat and I like cats. And, well, it's a spoiler but I'll let you know that felines figure quite prominently in this novel.

Thus, I end up not caring one bit about what's going on on Earth (except trying to envision what the Bay of Fundy would be like with tides 80 times larger than they are now, I've been there you see), but the Wanderer itself is quite fascinating.

Posted: November 2017


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