Tuesday, March 27, 2012

More Zelazny, even in harried days

 The last half of the month got pretty hectic, as you can tell from my missing my regular feature the last couple of weeks.  Besides an increased demand from my students who are starting to realize that they have entered the Now-or-Never portion of the semester, I am also negotiating a couple of major life changes which entails getting lots of things done.  However, I always have to read something (and it has to be unrelated to work) before I fall asleep, and so while my blogging has suffered, I've still been reading.  I recently got hold of two more Zelazny volumes, so the acquisition of Vance and Zelazny novels that I missed out continues to be more often Zelazny than Vance.  First I found Lord of Light and then Changeling.  (Scans of the covers are to the left and above.)  Lord of Light was quite enjoyable -- a creative use of Hinduism and Buddhism to create a sci-fi tale of advanced humans using their technology to rule over a world colonized with humans who are kept in pre-scientific times (take Clarke's Third Law, apply liberally).  So the tale feels very close to fantasy and even alternate history, in spite of its scientific rationale.  My copy is a Gollancz reprint.  I'm very grateful that they reprint older works like this, because they are already harder to find than I would wish, and usually they do an excellent job with them, but this one seemed to have more editorial issues than previous volumes I've read.  They were pretty much all irritating spelling errors that made the word that context demanded into a similar word, with maybe a single letter different.  Whatever they are using to spell check, they clearly need a pair or two of patient and attentive eyes reading these before they go to press.

The next book I finished was Sharon Kay Penman's Time and Change for a heaping helping of my favorite Plantagenet king and murdered archbishop of Canterbury (by the way, nice Richardian hand inscription in the front, Ms. Penman).  After that literary jawbreaker, I was ready to go back to Zelazny. Changeling was next -- very fun pitting of science vs. magic that is perfect for fans of Expedition to the Barrier Peaks.  It is also to be recommended for its excellent interior illustrations by Estaban Maroto.  These two Zelazny novels motivated me to go out and find more, so I picked up Dilvish the Damned and The Changing Land.  Thus I have continued to catch up on good old Sword & Sorcery that I missed out on the first time around.  Dilvish and Black stand with Corwin as my favorite Zelazny characters so far -- though you have to work a lot harder to gain an impression of who (what!) Black is.  If you haven't read these Zelazny novels yet, then consider this my recommendation.  They are quick reads with plenty of action, speculation that doesn't overpower the story (with perhaps the exception of Lord of Light), and plenty of harkening back to the older weird tradition.  Also, the romantic elements tend to be more understated and less formulaic, which make for a nice change of pace. My only complaint are the cover illustrations.  I would recommend not allowing them to influence your own imaginative projections of Dilvish, Black, and their world.

Well, that does it for the Zelazny that I know I want to read, with the exception of Creatures of Light and Darkness.  Anybody have any other suggestions for future reading or comments on their Z love?  In the meantime, March will probably end on a bit of a whimper while I try to take care of other fires, and I plan to crank the blog back into overdrive for April.  Thanks for not giving up on our rambles together!


  1. Well if you have not yet read them there are 2005 "A Secret of Amber" [story fragment co-written with Ed Greenwood between 1977 and 1992, published in Amberzine #12-15]
    1985 "Prolog to Trumps of Doom"
    1994 "The Salesman's Tale"
    1995 "Blue Horse, Dancing Mountains"
    1994 "The Shroudling and The Guisel"
    1995 "Coming to a Cord"
    1996 "Hall of Mirrors"

  2. I would also recommend:
    This Immortal (1966) - Hugo Award winner, 1966
    The Dream Master (1966)
    Creatures of Light and Darkness (1969)
    Isle of the Dead (1969) - Nebula Award nominee, 1969
    Damnation Alley (1969) (Do NOT watch the film version)
    Jack of Shadows (1971) - Hugo and Locus SF Awards nominee, 1972
    Today We Choose Faces (1973)
    To Die in Italbar (1973) (cameo appearance by Francis Sandow from Isle of the Dead)
    Doorways in the Sand (1976) - Nebula Award nominee, 1975; Hugo Award nominee, 1976
    My Name is Legion (1976)
    Roadmarks (1979) (one of my personal favorites I can not recommend this enough)
    Eye of Cat (1982)
    A Dark Traveling (1987) (also an excellent read! Sliders way before the TV show)
    A Night in the Lonesome October (1993) ( I read this almost every October)

    And finally there are those finished or collaborated with others such as:
    (With Jane Linskold)
    Donnerjack (1997)
    Lord Demon (1999) (beware the Hangers)

    Deus Irae (1976) (with Philip K. Dick!)
    Coils (1982) (with Fred Saberhagen)
    The Black Throne (1990) (with Fred Saberhagen)
    The Mask of Loki (1990) (with Thomas T. Thomas)

    I also recommend his collections:
    A Rose for Ecclesiastes (1969)
    The Doors of His Face, The Lamps of His Mouth, and Other Stories (1971)