You can't know there's a war on—for the Snakes coil and Spiders weave to keep you from knowing it's being fought over your live and dead body!
sleeps back, endangering the West's whole victory over Russia--"
"--which gave your dear little Hitler the world on a platter for fifty years and got me loved to death by your sterling troops in the Liberation of Chicago--"
"--but which leads to the ultimate victory of the Spiders and the West over the Snakes and Communism, Liebchen, remember that. Anyway, our counter-snatch didn't work. The Snakes had guards posted--most unusual and we weren't warned. The whole thing was a great mess. No wonder Bruce lost his head--not that it excuses him."
"The New Boy?" I asked. Sid hadn't got to him and he was still standing with hooded eyes where Erich had left him, a dark pillar of shame and rage.
"Ja, a lieutenant from World War One. An Englishman."
"I gathered that," I told Erich. "Is he really effeminate?"
"Weibischer?" He smiled. "I had to call him something when he said I was a coward. He'll make a fine Soldier--only needs a little more shaping."<
A mildly interesting idea of wars across time and space, constantly changing history. The wars are fought by demons against zombies--the names given to resurrected people and aliens used as pawns by the unseen controllers: the Snakes and Spiders.
Stuck inside the time winds are bubbles: hospitals and entertainment areas free from space and time. At such a rest area three soldiers show up. One carrying a nuclear bomb.
The story is a bit claustrophobic, in that it all takes place in the R&R area. Several of the characters are distinctive, including the narrator, the Nazi, the poet, the Lunarian, and the proprietor, but the story does drag in places.
Mr. Leiber is one of my favorite SF writers of old, so it is painful to have to say this is not a very good story, in my opinion. It started out pretty well, but the dialog and repetition began to bore me so that I had almost given up by the halfway point. But about there, it got a bit more interesting for a little while, so I continued, but it went downhill to a lackluster ending.
A note on this review - this was so bad that I only completed 25% of the book. So it is possible that 26% through 100% is one of the great works of SF, but somehow I doubt it. Presumably this is a story about warring factions of time travelers, battling to control the destiny of the universe. Interesting idea but the rambling, boring, confusing narrative shut me down early.
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