The Plot

(Critical Survey of Science Fiction and Fantasy)

You’re All Alone was to have been Fritz Leib-er’s third novel, following his successful Conjure Wife (1953; serial form, Unknown, 1943) and Gather, Darkness! (1950; serial form, Astounding Stories, 1943). He began it in 1943, the year the others appeared in magazines edited by John W. Campbell, Jr. He was four chapters into it when Campbell informed him that Unknown was ceasing publication because of World War II paper shortages. Lacking other fantasy markets, Leiber retired the manuscript until the late 1940’s, when he spent four years off and on expanding it to a seventy-five-thousand-word novel. Frederik Pohl, his agent, sold it to Fantastic Adventures, with the requirement that it be cut to forty thousand words. Pohl later sold the longer version as half of a double-novel volume to Universal Publishers, where editors made several of its love scenes more explicit in what Leiber called the “soft porn” style of the 1950’s. In 1972, Ace published the shorter version with two of Leiber’s novelettes, after Leiber bought back the longer story from Universal for the same $500 he had been paid for it. He further revised the work, which came out as a Pocket Books paperback in 1980 as The Sinful Ones. Leiber later wrote that “ill-starred” was too kind a description for what happened to his “two-headed” third novel.

The story opens with employment agency interviewer Carr...

(The entire section is 494 words.)