Sunday, November 17, 2013

Adept's Gambit. Now With More Cthulhu.

   Okay, how cool is this? This volume is coming out from Arcane Wisdom:
   "In 1936, the young Fritz Leiber wrote a 38,000-word novella entitled Adept’s Gambit and sent it to his new correspondent, H. P. Lovecraft. The older writer was thrilled at this sprawling narrative that mixed fantasy, sorcery, and historical fiction, and wrote an enormous letter expressing his praise and pointing out possible points that needed revision. Overall, however, Lovecraft was enthusiastic: “Certainly, you have produced a remarkably fine & distinctive bit of cosmic fantasy in a vein which is . . . essentially your own. The basic element of allegory, the earthiness & closeness to human nature, & the curious blending of worldly lightness with the strange & the macabre, all harmonise adequately & seem to express a definite mood & personality. The result is an authentic work of art.” 
For decades, it was believed that this version—which contains small but significant references to Lovecraft’s Cthulhu Mythos—was lost. But the manuscript has recently surfaced, and it is now being published for the first time. This version differs radically from the later version published in Night’s Black Agents (1947), and represents a landmark in the development of Leiber’s fantasy career. As the first Fafhrd and Gray Mouser narrative, it will be of consuming interest to all devotees of Leiber’s work. 
   This edition contains the complete, unabridged text of “Adept’s Gambit,” along with the complete text of Lovecraft’s letter commenting on it, as well as an introduction by S. T. Joshi providing background on the writing of the story. In all, this volume will find a cherished place among devotees of Fritz Leiber and H. P. Lovecraft. "

    I've heard about the original, more Lovecraftian version of Fritz Leiber's Adept's Gambit for years. Now I'll finally get to read it. And it's being published by Arcane Wisdom. You know who else is published by Arcane Wisdom?

Me. I have the same publisher as a new version of the very first Fafhrd and Gray Mouser story. I'm going to go sit down now.


qxface said...

This is very interesting! Adept's Gambit is already the most Lovecraft-y of the the Fafhrd and Gray Mouser stories. The strange laughter that F&GM produce. The Elder Gods (<- what a giveaway!) that Anra seeks.

The story-within-a-story that Ahura tells could be a Lovecraft story of its own (especially the Old Man Without a Beard) until it starts to turn a little too fantastical.

This was the first F&GM story Leiber wrote, I think? And it was set on Earth instead of Newhon. In the collection I have, "When the Sea King's Away" ends with a little transition from Newhon to Earth via Ningauble's tunnels. Will that portion make it in the new release you think?

F&GM are terrific. Leiber is terrific. His sci-fi deserves as much credit as F&GM. Stories like "The Creature From Cleaveland Depths" and "The Green Millennium" are possibly more potent and relevant then when they were written.

Thanks for this news and for you blog in general. I always enjoy it when you pop up in my RSS feed.

Charles R. Rutledge said...

Leiber mentioned in an interview that he almost left Adept's Gambit out of the "Swords" collection because the Earth setting didn't fit the rest of the stories, but he decided to write the bridge vignette to show how Fafhrd and the Mouser ended up on Earth. I doubt the bridge will be in this new edition since it won't be needed to connect to other stories.
Adept's Gambit was indeed the first story of the twain and as you said, was already pretty Lovecrafty. Apparently the original version was even more so.
Thanks for the kind words about the blog. I'm glad you enjoy my ramblings.

Paul R. McNamee said...

Interesting, as usual. :)

The first version published (the one that was not rewritten to fit in with later continuity) was collected in the first Echoes of Valor anthology from TOR.

Even there, there was a bit of sprawl to the story. This earlier version will certainly be interesting from a "how writers rewrite" perspective, if nothing else.

Charles R. Rutledge said...

Paul, yes I can see myself comparing all the versions. S.T. Joshi is the editor on this so hopefully he'll give us some scholarly information on the differences between versions.