Question regarding Fritz Leiber's "Dreams of Albert Moreland"


New Member
Nov 23, 2022
This is one of my favorite Fritz Leiber stories, partly because of the strange alien chess pieces. When describing the pieces, he mentions:

"There were terraced towers subtly distorted
out of the perpendicular, strangely asymmetric polygons that made him
think of temples and tombs, vegetable-animal shapes which defied
classification and whose formalized limbs and external organs suggested a
variety of unknown functions. The more powerful pieces seemed to be
modeled after life forms, for they carried stylized weapons and other
implements, and wore things similar to crowns and tiaras—a little like the
king, queen and bishop in chess—while the carving indicated voluminous
robes and hoods. But they were in no other sense anthropomorphic.
Moreland sought in vain for earthly analogies, mentioning Hindu idols,
prehistoric reptiles, futurist sculpture, squids bearing daggers in their
tentacles, and huge ants and mantes and other insects with fantastically
adapted end-organs."

I've always wondered - are the plant-animal shapes beyond classification and the shrouded figures with weapons the same sort of figures?
Darned if I know, but this was probably as close a tribute to H. P. Lovecraft as he gave in his early career, aside from maybe a Fahfrd and Grey Mouser story or two. I think even the first time I read this, not knowing about his connection to HPL, I sensed the debt of those "formalized limbs and external organs [which] suggested a variety of unknown functions" to descriptions in Lovecraft's work.

I do think that Moreland looked for analogous earthly forms suggests even "the king, queen and bishop" may have been insectoid or ... er ... fishy.
Ive never read or even heard of this one :unsure::(

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