The Wanderer

Fritz Leiber
The Wanderer Cover

The Wanderer


A huge planet like structure suddenly appears out of hyperspace,and ruthlessly plunder the moon for fuel for its travels,despite the catastrophic results as impossibly high tides and serious earthquakes devastate the earth,killing huge numbers.We follow a variety of individuals and groups from around the world who are trying to cope with both the physical and moral results of the catastrophe,many of whom die.Some humans are taken into the planet like structure,and we learn something of their culture and purposes,but also that they are being pursued by another relentless planet like structure,which intends to prevent the rebel planet from escaping,intending to destroy this rebel which is rebelling against the prevailing moral code of the aliens culture.All earth can do is watch as the two planets fight,then disappear,leaving earth to cope with the aftermath of destruction.

The structure of having disparate groups suffers from the usual problems of such a story form-some are more important,exciting or interesting than others. The story is extremely slow in getting started,and the would be exciting scenes of devastation are almost dispassionate in the telling.Probably what was meant to be the crux of the story,the apologia of a member of the Wanderer,is so rushed,rather confused and vague that to me it lost half of its portentous meaning.Descriptions of the Wanderer are likewise too rushed,and described almost like visions,which detracts from the impassioned plea for understanding of the motives of the Wanderers crew,as we dont really grasp the reality of the situation.

The cardboard characters,the inadequate explanations andthe ofttimes prosaic descriptions of the exciting dangerous situation detracted from the tale for me.I got repeatedly irritated as the tale was advanced-or not- by the various groups,and all in all felt much more could have been done with the material if the structure had been different.Globs of science only partially integrated with the tale didnt help either.To be honest,none of the Hugo nominees that year seem very strong,and I think Leiber's work seems a bit clumsy,and missed major oppotunities to make this an exciting,intriguing work.Could have been better.