Birthday Reviews: Fritz Leiber’s “The Cloud of Hate”

Birthday Reviews: Fritz Leiber’s “The Cloud of Hate”

Cover by Vernon Kramer
Cover by Vernon Kramer

Fritz Leiber was born on December 24, 1910 and died on September 5, 1992.

Fritz Leiber won six Hugo Awards for his novels The Big Time and The Wanderer as well as the novelette “Gonna Roll the Bones,” the novellas “Ship of Shadows” and “Ill Met in Lankhmar,” and the short story “Catch That Zeppelin.” “Gonna Roll the Bones,” “Ill Met in Lankhmar,” and “Catch That Zeppelin” also received the Nebula Award. He won the World Fantasy Award for the short story “Belsen Express” and the novel Our Lady of Darkness. He won his first British Fantasy Award for The Second Book of Fritz Leiber and his second for “The Button Molder.” He won the Geffen Award in 1999 for the Hebrew translation of Swords and Deviltry. The 1962 Worldcon presented him with a Special Convention Award in 1962 for his collaboration with the Hoffman Electronic Corporation for their use of science fiction in advertising.

In 1967 LASFS presented him with a Forry Award. He won a Gandalf Award in 1975 as a Grand Master of Fantasy and the next years received a Life Achievement Award from the World Fantasy Convention. In 1981 SFWA named him a Grand Master and he received a Special Balrog Award. He received a Bram Stoker Lifetime Achievement Award in 1988, and in 2001 he was posthumously inducted into the Science Fiction Hall of Fame.

Leiber is one of the few people who was a guest of honor at multiple Worldcons, having the honor in 1951 at NOLACon I, the 9th Worldcon, held in New Orleans in 1951 and again in 1979 when he was a guest of honor at Seacon ’79 in Brighton, UK. He was the Guest of Honor at the 4th World Fantasy Con in Fort Worth, Texas in 1978. Leiber has most famously collaborated with Harry Fischer on the concept for Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser for the story “Lords of Quarmall.” He has also collaborated with Judith Merril and Fredric Brown.

Leiber first published “The Cloud of Hate” in the May 1963 issue of Fantastic Stories of Imagination, edited by Cele Goldsmith. He included it as the lead-off story in the Lankhmar collection Swords in the Mist and in 1975 it showed up in Sword & Sorcery Annual. When Donald M. Grant published a collection of three Lankhmar stories in Bazaar of the Bizarre, “The Cloud of Hate” was one of the those chosen. It showed up in the Lankhmar omnibus volumes The Three of Swords and Lean Times in Lankhmar as well as Thieves’ House: Tales of Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser, Volume 2 and The First Book of Lankhmar. The story has been translated into Dutch, German, and twice into French, usually for collections of Leiber’s Lankhmar stories.

“The Cloud of Hate” is one of Leiber’s many stories about Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser. The two are serving as watchmen on the evening of a gala celebration of the betrothal of the Lankhmar Overlord’s daughter to the Prince of Ilthmar. They are stationed far from the festivities on a cold, foggy street. The action, however, starts below the streets of Lankhmar, with a mob of five thousand summoning the physical manifestation of hate to flood the streets and, one assumes, attack the Overlord’s party.

The physical cloud of Hate spreads through the streets of Lankhmar infecting those who were predisposed to it, Gnarlag of the Two Swords, Gis the Cuthroat, and the assassin brothers Kreshmar and Skel. Leiber implies that the cloud will also take control over Fafhrd or the Gray Mouser, if not both, but his heroes are both able to fight off its effects and turn their attention to destroying the cloud of hate and those it has possessed.

Although the cloud of Hate only causes the four villains to act on their hatred, it is fed by the hatred of the mob, a warning of the power of hatred to move through a community.

Reprint reviewed in the collection Lean Times in Lankhmar, by Fritz Leiber, White Wolf Publishing, 1996.


Steven H Silver-largeSteven H Silver is a sixteen-time Hugo Award nominee and was the publisher of the Hugo-nominated fanzine Argentus as well as the editor and publisher of ISFiC Press for 8 years. He has also edited books for DAW and NESFA Press. He began publishing short fiction in 2008 and his most recently published story is “Webinar: Web Sites” in The Tangled Web. Steven has chaired the first Midwest Construction, Windycon three times, and the SFWA Nebula Conference 6 times, as well as serving as the Event Coordinator for SFWA. He was programming chair for Chicon 2000 and Vice Chair of Chicon 7.

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Charles_Martel

A John Jakes Brak the Barbarian story on the cover over a Fritz Leiber Fafhrd and Gray Mouser story. I wouldn’t have believed it if you hadn’t posted the cover.

Rich Horton

Also happened with a Lovecraft story and a Robert E. Howard story — both had been dead for nearly three decades.

So, Steven, a bestselling writer like Stephanie Meyer is available, and you went with this obscure old writer, eh? 🙂

Major Wootton

I’d enjoy seeing a complete review of the issue, including the features such as letters. I think I used to have a copy of this one!

Major Wootton

I think “According to You” was the letters column. I’ve mentioned elsewhere the issue of Fantastic that had a fairly long letter from Moorcock about Mervyn Peake — which probably was the first time many Americans had heard of Peake. By that time Peake was in his sad decline.

I’d be interested in knowing about any issues of Fantastic before 1965 with significant remarks or even glimpses of Tolkien.

Ty Johnston

Any chance that Moorcock letter about Peake is available online anywhere? I’d love to read that one.

Major Wootton

Yes, the Moorcock letter on Peake may be read at the Science Fiction and Fantasy Chronicles site in the Forums section:

https://www.sffchronicles.com/threads/573275/page-2#post-2302135

You might have to register with Chrons to gain access, but that is free, and it’s a nice site, as I can attest from several years on board.

Dale Nelson

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