Fritz Reuter Leiber, Jr. (December 24, 1910 – September 5, 1992) was an American writer of fantasy, horror, and science fiction. He was also a poet, actor in theater and films, playwright and chess expert. With writers such as Robert E. Howard and Michael Moorcock, Leiber can be regarded as one of the fathers of sword and sorcery fantasy. Moreover, he excelled in all fields of speculative fiction, writing award-winning work in fantasy, horror, and science fiction.
Leiber was named the second Gandalf Grand Master of Fantasy by participants in the 1975 World Science Fiction Convention (Worldcon), after the posthumous inaugural award to J. R. R. Tolkien. Next year he won the World Fantasy Award for Life Achievement. He was Guest of Honor at the 1979 Worldcon in Brighton, England (1979). The Science Fiction Writers of America made him its fifth SFWA Grand Master in 1981; the Horror Writers Association made him an inaugural winner of the Bram Stoker Award for Lifetime Achievement in 1988 (named in 1987); and the Science Fiction and Fantasy Hall of Fame inducted him in 2001, its sixth class of two deceased and two living writers.
Leiber was a founding member of the Swordsmen and Sorcerers’ Guild of America, a loose-knit group of Heroic fantasy authors founded in the 1960s, led by Lin Carter, with entry by fantasy credentials alone. Some works by SAGA members were published in Lin Carter’s Flashing Swords! anthologies. Leiber himself is credited with inventing the term sword and sorcery for the particular subgenre of epic fantasy exemplified by his Fafhrd and Grey Mouser stories.
In an appreciation in the July 1969 “Special Fritz Leiber Issue” of The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction, Judith Merril writes of Leiber’s connection with his readers: “That this kind of personal response…is shared by thousands of other readers, has been made clear on several occasions.” The November 1959 issue of Fantastic, for instance: Leiber had just come out of one of his recurrent dry spells, and editor Cele Lalli bought up all his new material until there was enough [five stories] to fill an issue; the magazine came out with a big black headline across its cover — Leiber Is Back!