Short Story #53: Ship of Shadows by Fritz Leiber

Title:  Ship of Shadows

Author:  Fritz Leiber


Book cover:  Bill Fawcett - Cats in Space (1992) - Fritz Leiber's Ship of Shadows
Spar awakes from a nightmare about witches and vampires and meets a talking cat named Kim who may or may not be a witch-cat..  He has trouble remembering where he is from, he has no teeth, and really bad eyesight.  He works in a bar that's on a spaceship called the Windrush and believes as many others do that it is in fact, the universe.   With the help of the cat, he swears off moonmist, an intoxicating drink.  The bar is a popular place for drunks and some other questionable folks like Crown who has his harem of women and is constantly  abusing people around him.  Spar eventually gets mixed up in some events surrounding the disappearance of a bag that belongs to the Doctor but that Crown is claiming to be his.  Spar returns the bag to the doctor and the doctor helps him by providing him with fake teeth and glasses.  All the while, he's finding out that things are not what they appear to be--with the bar, with Crown and his harm, with everyone else, and with the ship itself.  His prying eventually leads to his capture by Crown and his harem who look to drink his blood along with other people but at the last minute, Kim comes to the rescue with others.  When all is said and done, it is revealed that Kim was sent to retrieve Spar and another character and help them remember who they were and to get the ship to join with another ship.


Blah.  That's my initial thought about this story.  It felt like a lot of work for very little return.  This was a long short-story (about 40 pages) and felt like it was too underdeveloped and probably should have been a book.  You get the answers you need by story's end but they feel a bit empty after wandering so long within the story without much sense.  It's funny while I really liked this other Leiber story, this one felt like it was trying to hard to be something more than it was.

Short Story #53 out of 365
Rating: 2 (out of 5 stars)
Date Read:  2/20/2014
Source:  Cats in Space and Other Spaces, edited by Bill Fawcett, Baen Books, 1992.  The story can also be found on this website.

For a full listing of all the short stories in this series, check out the category 365 Short Stories a year.

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