Re: March's Marvellous Meanderings In Melodious Manuscripts.
I read Fritz Leiber's Changewar and The Mind Spider. These books have complicated and overlapping histories with varying tables of contents and varying titles and I've already read most of what was in them but not all and never in one flow. My versions are the 1976 Ace pb of TMS and the 1983 Ace pb of CW. TMS was originally the B-side of an Ace double with The Big Time and included 3 Changewar stories. This edition is independent and switches one Changewar story for one non-Changewar story. There wasn't really a bad story in them, though some were pretty minor. However, the best story in CW (which is also still in TMS) was "The Oldest Soldier". A simultaneously gripping suspense/thriller and philosphical/character study piece. The best in TMS (aside from "The Oldest Soldier") was the one that wasn't even in the original edition of that book: "Midnight in the Mirror World" was a fantastic (fittingly, as it was published in Fantastic) story of Gardnerian optical puzzles and Poe-like (Poe-etic?) macabre fantasy.
Two things that bother me about Changewar is that (1) I don't see how "A Deskful of Girls" relates to the Changewar at all and "When the Change-Winds Blow" seems only thematically related, but doesn't seem to involve Snakes and Spiders at all and (2) even the Snakes-and-Spiders stories don't really add up to more than the sum of their parts. They're individually fair to excellent and the whole (coupled with what I recall of The Big Time) is... somewhere between fair and excellent. I think the sequence of connected stories is about my favorite form but this doesn't really take much advantage of it. Still, both are pretty good collections just taken as random stories (which TMS is).