'-------------------------------------------------- Cascoly Books: Roger Zelazny

Cascoly Books - Roger Zelazny

   Roger Zelazny Lord of Light

I first read this book in the late 60's when it came out, and was intrigued by Zelazny's blending of myth, fantasy and science fiction.  I've recently re-read it and it's as fresh and incisive as it seemed then.

Loosely incorporating Hindu myths and legends, Zelazny weaves the tale of a would be Buddha's revolt against an authoritarian pantheon of gods on a Terran colonized planet. Prayer wheels have evolved into pray-o-mats that  take coin or plastic cards, reincarnation is achieved by bioengineering but controlled by gods, the world contains nonhuman sentient energy wraiths that are called Rakashas, or demons. While taking liberties with the originals, and providing scientific explanations for their aspects, attributes and avatars, Zelazny  still manages to capture the flavor of the historical Siddhartha and early Buddhism's challenge to an aging and sclerotic religo-political hierarchy  This won the Hugo when it was first published in 1967 and remains a classic. 

On names:

"To speak is to name names, but to speak is not important.  A thing happens once that has never happened before.  Seeing it, a man looks on reality.  He cannot tell others what he has seen... Perhaps he has seen the very first fire in the world -- 'It is red like a poppy. It has no form, like water, but through it dance other colors. It is warm, like the sun of summer, only warmer.  It exists for a time on a piece of wood, and then the wood is gone, as though it were eaten, leaving behind that which is black and can be sifted like sand.  When the wood is gone, it too is gone.'    Therefore, the hearers must think .. it is like to anything they are told it is like by the man who has known it.  But they have not looked on fire.  They cannot not really know it.  They can only know of it. ... After a time, fire is as common as grass and clouds .. They see that while it is like a poppy, it is not a poppy, while it is like water, it is not water... but something different from each of these apart or all of these together.  So they look upon this new thing and they make a new word to call it."

[But slowly, men come to forget the reality and see only the name they have given it.  The reality is still there]

"Essence dreams it a dream of form.  Forms pass but the essence remains, dreaming new dreams. Man names these dreams and thinks to have captured the essence, not knowing that he invokes the unreal."


Creatures of Light & Darkness -- again delving into ancient myth for source material, Zelazny explores the essence of Egyptian mythology

Trumps of Doom Roger Zelazny

  These are three of the final five books in the ten book Amber series.  Zelazny is a master in more ways than one, with his short, Hemingway style of punctuation and brevity and his first person narratives which tease, twist and generate a high level of reader involvement, Zelazny moves a story along faster and better than anyone in the field. That he has also created the world of Amber and uses its individual strangeness to build upon is just another facet of one of the field's premiere storytellers.

  Amber is a world which exists alongside other worlds. It is, in fact, the true world an all other worlds are nothing but shadows. In Amber there is the pattern and when one walks the pattern one gains great powers and is able to do magical things. One family has controlled the pattern and has essentially ruled the worlds. The First series follows a single member of the family and introduces us to the worlds and to the pattern and to the strangeness that grows from strange relationships. Politics abound and intrigue is second nature.

  With the second set of books, Zelazny picks up years later and this time we follow a descendant of Amber as he makes his way on Earth and beyond. This time Zelazny lets Amber grow, to become fuller, larger and to become a mirror image of itself in the process. Not many could actually make the second five books of a series better than the first but Zelazny does. This is great stuff, made all the better because Zelazny is such a master of his craft. If you've not yet discovered Zelazny's worlds then you're in for a treat. If it has been years then take this opportunity to rediscover.

  Amber is a place of magic and there can be no more fitting place of rest for one of the greatest story tellers the Science Fiction field has ever had the pleasure to know.

Steven Sawicki


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