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In Praise of Roger Zelazny

I’m sometimes asked who my favourite writers are.  And, while the list is long and extensive, Roger Zelazny has never yet not passed my lips.  I am more than happy to be a one-woman fan club for Zelazny, and sing his praises in all things.  Although dead now (most of my favourite writers are dead, damnit), he turned out a mass of work, ranging from extremely geeky science fiction of the guns-ships-aliens-in-space kind through to fantastical monsters and epic battles of the swords-and-cloaks variety.  His imagination ranged from sentient rocks with a thing for spontaneous nuclear fusion, through to battles between order and chaos for the control of the known (and unknown) universe, to tourist trips across futuristic earth, the misdeeds of gods, alien and human, and the personal lives of lizard-emperors who need a hundred years to frame a sentence.  Even if all this were not impressive enough, Zelazny wrote with a mixture of poignancy and wit that could turn on a five pence; somewhere between Raymond Chandler met Jane Austen met Terminator.  His most famous, and probably most easily discoverable works, were the ten volume Chronicles of Amber, but if you’re looking for a quicker, shorter read, you could try Damnation Alley, the story of the last Hells Angel left on a ravaged Earth, or This Immortal, or, if you have a weakness of Hindu/Buddhist mythology taken to a new level, Lord of Light.  His short stories are well worth reading too – To Die in Italbar or The Last Defender of Camelot are both packed with a mixture of the surreal, the comical, the tragic and the frightening.