Radio Wolinsky

The Probabilities Archive: Fritz Leiber (1910-1992), 1977

The works of Fritz Leiber (1910-1992) seem to have fallen into some kind of unwarranted obscurity in recent years. An author of science fiction, horror and fantasy stories, during his lifetime he was considered a master of genre fiction.

It was Fritz Leiber, according to Wikipedia, who coined the term sword and sorcery to refer to fantasy stories set in medieval times involving knights and squires and castles and dragons and all sorts of magic. His own sword and sorcery duo, Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser whose stories were collected in several volumes, along with characters such as Conan the Barbarian by his contemporary, Robert E. Howard, are considered among the most notable in the genre.

A stylist at a time when there were few stylists in science fiction and fantasy, his books often had social themes, including Gather Darkness, set in a future religious dystopia, The Wanderer, which explores what happens when a rogue planet comes near earth, and Our Lady of Darkness, which sets up a lovecraftian world inside modern day San Francisco.

Back in the very early days of Probabilities, the three hosts (Lawrence Davidson, Richard A. Lupoff, Richard Wolinsky) associated socially with Fritz Leiber. There were three recordings to emerge from that time. One of them, focusing on Fahfrd and the Gray Mouser, exists only as a reel to reel tape, still to be digitized. Another was recorded in Leiber’s apartment on Geary Street in San Francisco’s Tenderloin, when Leiber was more expansive than usual. In that recording, only Fritz’s voice is intelligible. The third was an interview with Richard A. Lupoff, recorded in KPFA’s studios during Science Fiction Day on the KPFA fund-raising marathon in September 1977.

This podcast features that third recording, with two inserts from the Geary Street session, duplicating and expanding on some of the material in Dick Lupoff’s interview. Dick’s interview has not been heard since its initial airing in 1978, and the Geary Street inserts have never been heard until now. This podcast was digitized, remastered and edited in August 2023.