Oh boy, The Wanderer. This was the last book I read in 2012 and boy did I go out on a dud. I picked this book up at the used book store while I was browsing around. I had never heard of it or of Fritz Leiber, but it was proclaimed as a ‘Science Fiction Classic’ and the synopsis was interesting so I figured why not?
One day out of nowhere a purple and yellow/gold planet suddenly appears in the sky. That sounds like an interesting premise right? A sudden appearance of such a large body also has a huge impact on the Earth by affecting tides, volcanoes, and weather patters immensely. Of course there is also the sudden confirmation of other life in the world. There are so many topics and themes to explore.
Leiber tries to give a breadth of scope by telling the story in about 15 different separate story lines and bouncing around between each. Some of these are ridiculously comical stereotypes like the ‘weed brothers’ who are a group of pot heads who basically run around like a bunch of idiots who can’t tell up from down. Then there is the pair of play wrights who spend their time on the 30th floor of a skyscraper writing a play about the floods coming through New York. At the end of the day most of the story lines just seem irrelevant and the attempts to jump around the world just start to remove any focus from the plot. By the halfway mark I was skipping entire story lines and just waiting for something interesting to happen.
Something interesting did eventually happen and this is when I just gave up. Tigerishka is one of the alien beings who lives on the planet. Apparently Apes and Cats are just standard types of beings throughout the universe so Tigerishka mistakes a cat for an intelligent being. Eventually she reveals to our main protagonist the history of the wandering planet, blah blah blah, and then they have sex. The entire transition from alien being to love interest was so ridiculous I just couldn’t finish this book.
Much like A Stranger in a Strange Land this book seems to have aged very ungracefully. I think something is extremely lost in translation across the years since it was originally published. The 60s sure seem like a weird world to have lived in.