The Dreams of Albert Moreland
by Fritz Leiber

Review by
Robert Wilfred Franson

The Acolyte, #10, Spring 1945

included in —
Night's Black Agents
Fritz Leiber and H. P. Lovecraft: Writers of the Dark
The Second Fritz Leiber Megapack

December 2019

Grand cosmic chess

Fritz Leiber now and then turns his hand to large philosophical-theological questions — or challenges — or contests, often as neatly turned miniatures. Given his chess expertise, these may be expressed in chess games or chess-like contests.

In the short story "The Dreams of Albert Moreland" we are given one significant fact right up front, a date:

I think of the Autumn of 1939, not as the beginning of the Second World War, but as the period in which Albert Moreland dreamed the dream. The two events — the war and the dream — are not, however, divorced in my mind ...

Moreland's daytime life is spent playing professional, master-level chess, but casually, for petty cash, in a club against all comers. His nighttime life is of that special kind of dreaming where the dream every night fills all the hours of "sleep", as though it were an alternate waking life. During this dream-existence Moreland obsessively plays an exotic, grand-scale chess-like game against an unseen but demonic opponent, for scarcely imaginable cosmic stakes.

Powerful, unsettling, and memorable.


© 2019 Robert Wilfred Franson

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