Last week I read a novelette written in 1962 by Fritz Leiber called, “The Creature from Cleveland Depths,” and not only did I learn a lot from this story, but also about its author.
Fritz Leiber (1910-92) coined the term “sword and sorcery” fantasy stories, and he is regarded as one of the fathers of that genre. He was born in Chicago, Illinois. His father, Fritz Leiber, Sr. (also born in Chicago, 1882-1949) was a Shakespearean actor and played in a few movies. In fact, he was in “Samson and Delilah” (1949) which I watched and reviewed on my recent blog, “At the Movies: ‘Samson’”.
Returning to Fritz, Jr. — He wrote a lot of science fiction and the sword-and-sorcery type of short stories and books. Lately, I read quite a few of his works, and when I read “The Creature from Cleveland Depths,” I was surprised at how modern it is, even though it was written 56 years ago.
Here, in a world where people live underground, we get a glimpse into our future, which is now our present: social media, smartphones, drones, and a crazy invention called the “Tickler”, which everyone wears on his shoulder. It speaks through an earpiece. It sends a little tickle through one’s body as it indoctrinates positive thinking, injects drugs, makes decisions for people, reminds people to do certain things, et cetera. Over a short period of time, people become mindless zombies/robot-like beings.
I got a kick out of the scene where individual-servings of martinis in carboard boxes (much like single servings of wine and cocktails in glass bottles we see on today’s store shelves) are offered. Moreover, the mindless fads in this story mimics today’s fads, including one where boys and girls both wear full face makeup, much to the chagrin of the police.
This is a good, fascinating, and quick-reading story that you can pick up for nothing on Amazon Kindle. It was one of the best stories I read last week, and a little creepier that any of the Dick Tracy comics I used to read when I was a kid. But then, that two-way wrist radio Tracy wore—
Yesterday’s fiction is today’s truth.
©Susan Marie Molloy and all works within.