The Big Time by Fritz Leiber is a book that had me hooked and lost me. It was never bad but as the story advanced I begin to drift. The ideas of how time travel was interesting but I didn't really care about the war, the character or any of the events. All that it had were interesting ideas and that made for a mediocre story. Not bad, but never very good either.
Hooking me in the beginning was the description of the winds of change. The idea that when you feel as if you remember things differently that is because time is being changed. This also helps to explain the different moods you have, feeling depressed one day and happy the next. An interesting way to include the reader in the story and I always like it when stories can use natural and sometimes strange feelings to bring in the reader.
In addition this story felt as if it might have an edge that you do not find often in stories of this age. The story is told in first person point of view from that of a 'entertainer' at a way-station which is outside of time. While it is never really explicitly explained how she entertains them it seems pretty clear. This is not a big part of the story and it leads to one of the points that most bothers me about this story which is that it assumes that a civilization which exists a billions years in the past and another that exists a billion years in the future would treat women generally the same as men in the 1950s.
The story is effectively a play. It takes place in the main room of a place out of time with very specific borders. Characters come and go from that stage quite easily. If you read it this way it does make the story better. The suddenness of characters changes are far more like a play than a novel. The problem with this is that I was reading a novel.
I have read a few things by Fritz Leiber and he generally writes in a story that I simply do not care for. He will get one more chance to impress me as he has one more Hugo award winning novel but I am not looking forward to it because in some ways I would rather hate a story than simply not caring about anything.
This is a short story with a lot of interesting ideas on time travel, such as the conservation of reality and the war fought over time. This is something that has been explored in many stories and so if you love time travel stories then this is worth reading but beyond that it is hard for me to recommend.