The Green Millennium by Fritz Leiber
One morning Phil Gish wakes up feeling happy and hopeful. Life, formerly monotonous and sad, is now wonderful. The crowded society, the hot and cold wars that have lasted over 50 years, the right wing drunk president, the threats from Russia, being replaced at his job by a robot – none of these bother him now. Instead, he has a new pet and a new attitude. He names the green cat who appears in his room Lucky.
Phil decides to descend to the city, taking Lucky with him. Once free, Lucky starts off, Phil following. The Lucky disappears up behind one of the mixed sex wrestling arenas. At first Phil is barred, but Juno Jones, the reigning champion, convinces the owner to let Phil in. She never saw Lucky or any green cat, but she believes this slightly wild man. Her husband, though, isn’t sure. He offers Phil the card for a psychiatrist.
After he returns home, Phil happens to see the woman in the rooms across from his. She thought she’d turned on the privacy screen, but instead she turned the window transparent. As Phil watches her disrobe, he decides that he is dreaming after all. No one else saw Lucky. Now this woman is… what exactly is she? He decides to visit the psychiatrist after all.
Once Phil mentions the green cat to the doctor, everything changes. The doctor locks him in a room and makes a frantic phone call. The doctor’s daughter helps him escape. Soon he’s running with thugs and being chased by hit men. Throughout it all, Phil is more concerned about Lucky than himself. If he can only find that green cat, everything will be all right.
The title, The Green Millennium, is from a period of time in the future – ok, now the past. Fritz Leiber published the book in the early 1950’s and is looking ahead to the dismal industrialization and modernization of mankind around the year 2000 (the millennium, of course). But future Earth is more the backdrop for the story of strange beings and oddities. The overall plot uses it,but doesn’t depend on it. If someone were to write The Green Millennium and just change the background to the technology we now have and know, it would stand up just fine.
Leiber’s book fits in with the science fiction of the time – good what ifs? and a fun story. It’s not great and is easily lost among some of the great work of the period. Even so, it’s a sample of the type of science fiction that is a building block of the genre as a whole.
The Green Millennium is a comment on politics and war. Phil realizes there is a reason he is so happy – Lucky seems to exude something that causes the feelings. If war mongers get hold of the cat, the cat would quickly disappear.
This is a cute story that still sends its message. Leiber was one of the early science fiction greats – and The Green Millennium is some of his average pulp writing.