For the 500th episode of Pseudopod, a complete audio reading of Fritz Leiber’s story “A Bit Of The Dark World” (Fantastic, February 1962). He had written some early stories that drew somewhat on Lovecraft, back in the 1930s and 40s, but without pastiching the master. Today I think of him as a sword & sorcery author linked with the post-Howard Conan series, but here the mature Leiber attempts a tale of cosmic horror fit for the know-it-all world of the early 1960s.

Leiber had been musing about the nature of writing in changing times for some years, such as in his rip-roaring sci-fi comedy-satire “The Silver Eggheads” (1959, expanded as a novel in 1962). This features an A.I. science fiction setting in which ‘novel writers’ are machines with names such as the ‘Fiction House Fantasizer’ with Fingertip Credibility Control!). It’s also a little Lovecrafty, as it riffs on the idea of still-living “genetically-enhanced brains taken from the skulls of once-living writers”.

Sadly there’s no audiobook version of what appears to be a sci-fi comedy classic, and the OCR on the 1959 novelette version at isn’t good enough for text-to-speech. Though the novel is, at least, newly available for the Kindle.