I was a Roger Zelazny fan from way back — well, way back when I got into the Amber series. A friend had told me about it. I think I began reading the books somewhere in the 1980s, maybe after five of them had been published.
I once had the privilege of sitting in the audience at the 1992 World Fantasy Convention for a panel where Zelazny sat quietly on the end as his fellow authors talked about anything but the panel’s topic. A woman finally stood up and complained that she had come in for the advertised topic and didn’t appreciate having to sit through off-topid authorial meanderings.
Five of the greatest names in science fiction and fantasy sat stunned and silent until Roger Zelazny cleared his throat and started talking about what we had all come to hear. I think the topic was “real life on the battlefield” or something close to that.
I’ve met many science fiction and fantasy authors (and actors) through the years. They tend to be very polite, a lot of fun, and totally dedicated to giving their fans a great experience at conventions. Nonetheless, I’ve always had the impression that he was a particularly polite man, though I only saw him a couple of other brief times at that one convention and never had much of chance to get to know him.
In fact, I had a great time chatting with Jack L. Chalker at that convention one night, and later exchanged an email with him — back when email was still pretty new for me (and many other folks, I guess). But I digress.
Roger Zelazny died in 1995 and I was saddened by his death not only because it was due to cancer (one would like to go peacefully asleep in hale old age, I think) but also (selfishly) because I would never learn how he would finish out his evergrowing Amber stories. I really wanted to know what Corwin’s pattern would produce.
If you have never read any of Roger Zelazny’s work you still have time to discover him. You might wait for Roger Zelazny’s short fiction collection that is due to be published in a 6-volume set. Or you might buy a copy of Dead Man’s Brother, a murder mystery/thriller with a touch of Zelazny’s fantastic fiction.
Dead Man’s Brother was written in the early 1970s and then set aside due to a lack of interested markets. Zelazny’s last literary agent found the manuscript and with the help of Roger’s son brought it to publication. The book has apparently received good reviews.
I don’t buy much paper-bound fiction any more. I rarely have time for reading and when I do read print items I tend to read science magazines and the backs of cereal boxes. But that’s just me.
Roger Zelazny had a classy writing style that I always enjoyed. He knew how to draw the reader into the story. You almost felt like you were right there, next to the protagonist, experiencing every dramatic challenge and success along with the characters.
I can well understand why his old fiction would still be selling. It had a timeless quality to it. Well, it was timeless for me. Perhaps there just weren’t enough dragons and orcs in Roger Zelazny’s stories for today’s readers, but I think most people would enjoy his books.
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