Annotations to The Big Time


  • a) Leiber, F. The Big Time. NewYork: Tor, 2000. Print.
  • b) Leiber, F. The Big Time. Kindle Ed. New Jersey: Gregg Press, 2011. Digital.


Chapter 1 - Enter Three Hussars

a) p. 5; b) Loc. 31. - Epigraph

MacbethWhen shall we three meet again In thunder, lightning, or in rain? When the hurlyburly's done. When the battle's lost and won.

With the quote from Macbeth and the title of the chapter, Enter Three Hussars, in the form of stage directions, Leiber tips off the reader that the novel will be in the form of a stage play. Lieber's mother and father ran their own traveling Shakespearean troupe in which Leiber was able to occasionally travel with as a child and performed in briefly early in his adulthood.

a) p. 5; b) Loc. 31.

My name is Greta Forzane.

In the next paragraph, the narrator says: “I am not as romantically entrancing as the immortal film star who also bears my first name . . . ” Leiber is, of course, referring to Greta Garbo. The last name, Forzane, is a reference to another actress, Jacqueline Forzane. Leiber has a connection to Greta Garbo. He had a small part as the character, Valentin, in the film, Camille, that Garbo stars in.

a) p. 7; b) Loc. 65.

The last one I spent in Renaissance Rome, where I got a crush on Cesare Borgia, but got over it.

Cesare Borgia was the son of Pope Alexander VI whose battles for power was a significant inspiration for Machiavelli's, The Prince.

a) p. 8; b) Loc. 71.

(bar Basin Street and the Prater)


a) p. 9; b) Loc. 89.

They were dressed as officers of hussars, as we'd been advised . . .

Hussars were European light infantry. Pelisses are short, tight-fitting, military jackets lined with fur. Shakos are tall, cylindrical, military hats.

a) p. 10; Loc. 100.

We fair chewed the Nevsky Prospekt to pieces galloping away.

The Nevsky Prospect is the main street in St. Petersburg, Russia.

Chapter 2 - A Right-Hand Glove

a) p. 17; b) Loc. 211. - Epigraph

HodgsonLast week in Babylon, Last night in Rome,

From the poem, Time, You Old Gypsy Man, by Ralph Hodgson. Hodgson was an American poet born a generation before Leiber. The poem is about the passage of time. The Narrator is pleading with time to pause and stay awhile, and as such is apropos to the story. Furthermore, the Three Hussars have just arrived from Rome.

Chapter 3 - Nine for a Party

a) p. 28; b) Loc. 369. - Epigraph

AucassinHell is the place for me. For to Hell go the fine churchmen, and the fine knights, killed in the tourney or in some grand war, the brave soldiers and the gallant gentlemen. With them will I go. There go also the fair gracious ladies who have lovers two or three beside their lord. There go the gold and the silver, the sables and ermine. There go the harpers and the minstrels and the kings of the earth.

Aucassin is a character from the 12th or 13th-century French story, Aucassin et Nicolette. The story is a parody on the subject of courtly love, which was popular in the fiction of the time.

Chapter 4 - SOS from Nowhere

a) p. 351); b) Loc. 464. - Epigraph

EliotDe Bailhache, Fresca, Mrs. Cammel, whirled Beyond the circuit of the shuddering Bear In Fractured atoms.

Gerontion by T.S. Eliot

Chapter 5 - Sid Insists on Ghostgirls

a) p. 41; b) Loc. 544. - Epigraph

IbsenWhenever I take up a newspaper and read it, I fancy I see ghost creeping between the lines. There must be ghosts all over the world. They must be as countless as the grains of the sands, it seems to me.

Ghosts by Henrik Ibsen

Chapter 6 - Crete Circa 1300 B.C.

a) p. 45; b) Loc. 599. - Epigraph

GravesMaiden, Nymph, and Mother are the eternal royal Trinity of the island, and the Goddess, who is worshipped there in each of these aspects, as New Moon, Full Moon, and Old Moon, is the sovereign Deity.

Robert Graves

The White Goddess?

Chapter 7 - Time to Think

a) p. 50; b) Loc. 665. - Epigraph

Los AlamosAfter about 0.1 millisecond (one ten-thousandth part of a second) has elapsed, the radius of the ball of fire is some 45 feet, and the temperature is then in the vicinity of 300,000 degrees Centigrade. At this instant, the luminosity, as observed at a distance of 100,000 yards (5.7 miles), is approximately 100 times that of the sun as seen at the earth's surface . . . the ball of fire expands very rapidly to its maximum radius of 450 feet within less than a second from the explosion.

Chapter 8 - A Place to Stand

a) p. 59; b) Loc. 793. - Epigraph

ArchimedesGive me a place to stand, and I will move the world.


Chapter 9 - A Locked Room

a) p. 71; b) Loc. 958. - Epigraph

Poe“We examined the moss between the bricks, and found it undisturbed.” “You looked among D——'s papers, of course, and into the books of the library?” “Certainly; we opened every package and parcel; we not only opened every book, but we turned over every leaf in each volume . . .”

The Purloined Letter by Edgar Allan Poe

Chapter 10 - Motives and Opportunities

a) p. 78; b) Loc. 1062. - Epigraph

Macbeth My thought, whose murder yet is but fantastical, Shakes so my single state of man that function Is smother'd in surmise, and nothing is But what is not.

Chapter 11 - The Western Front, 1917

a) p. 842); b) Loc. 1150. - Epigraph

Sassoon The barrage roars and lifts. Then, clumsily bowed With bombs and guns and shovels and battle gear, Men jostle and climb to meet the bristling fire. Lines of gray, muttering faces, masked with fear, They leave their trenches, going over the top, While time ticks blank and busy on their wrists

Chapter 12 - A Big Opportunity

a) p. 90; b) Loc. 1241. - Epigraph

Anonymous Now is a bearable burden. What buckles the back is the added weight of the past's mistakes and the future's fears. I had to learn to close the front door to tomorrow and the back door to yesterday and settle down to here and now.

Chapter 13 - The Tiger is Loose

a) p. 100; b) Loc. 1373. - Epigraph

Spenser But whence he was, or of what wombe ybore, Of beasts, or of the earth, I have not red: But certes was with milke of wolves and tygres fed.

Chapter 14 - "Now Will You Talk?"

a) p. 106; b) Loc. 1451. - Epigraph

WebsterLike diamonds, we are cut with our own dust.

Chapter 15 - Lord Spider

a) p. 112; b) Loc. 1527. - Epigraph

marguisblack legged spiders with red hearts of hell

Chapter 16 - The Possibility-Binders

a) p. 120; b) Loc. 1633. - Epigraph

Heinlein“Familiar with infinite universe sheafs and open-ended postulate systems?—the notion that everything is possible—and I mean everything—and everything has happened. Everything.

1) , 2)
Missing from Tor Edition