I also reviewed Lord of Light for SF Site some time ago: Lord of Light review.
|(cover by Gray Morrow)|
This Immortal is a good read, with plenty of Zelaznyesque brio. But it's not as good as Lord of Light (many, I should note, disagree,) and actually, it seems a bit, well, slight. The ending is a distinct anti-climax. It's still a book you ought to read, mind you, but it's just real good, not great. The storyline concerns Conrad Nomikos, one of about 4 million people still living on Earth centuries in the future, after a Nuclear war, and after the bulk of the population has gone to the stars to work for the advanced, civilized, Vegans. Conrad and some of his friends had years before been involved in the "Returnist" movement, urging people to return to Earth, and resisting the Vegans' moves to buy up the best Earth real estate. Nowadays, the situation is a stalemate, with Earth's exile population preferring not to return, but with the Vegans' not buying any more of Earth either. But Cort Mishtigo, a high status Vegan, has come to Earth to tour some of the ancient sites. Conrad, who seems to have some mysterious past identities that go back a long way, is recruited to guide Mishtigo, and to protect him from assassins. He is in danger because the more radical Returnists believe that his "tour" is a pretext for evaluating more real estate, in advance of a renewed Vegan buying campaign. Conrad is unsure of Cort's motives, and anyway unhappy with the idea of murder. The novel consists, then, of Cort's tour, and a number of well-done battles between Conrad and a variety of monsters and mutants. The fight scenes, and the descriptions of the mutants (based on Greek mythology), are really good. It's only the eventual revelation of the Vegan motives that's a bit pat and anti-climatic.
(This review is actually of the original 31,000 word novells, which appeared in the October 1967 Galaxy.)
|(Cover by Jack Gaughan)|
This passage is called “Damnation Alley,” and it is full of bandits, radioactive craters, storms, giant gila monsters, bats, snakes, and other menaces. Tanner starts out in a convoy of three tank-like vehicles, and over time the other drivers are killed, including Tanner’s unwilling partner. He picks up a girl (from a motorcycle gang), and seems to slowly gain something of a conscience. None of this is surprising, and much is silly, especially the square-cube law violating monsters. That said, Zelazny could write action well, and there are bits that work nicely, even some lyrical bits. It is what it is – reasonably well done but not particularly original action-adventure. The problem is, I expect a lot more from Zelazny.
Creatures of Light and Darkness
|(Cover by James Starrett)|
I have to admit, it didn't work for me at all. I don't know enough Egyptian mythology to follow any of the stories, if they are actually based on such stories. Much seemed deliberately obscure. The SFnal bits are profoundly unconvincing, and the characters are given powers which seem to be very arbitrary, and just what is needed at any given time. Of course it is well written, in Zelazny's trademark mode -- elevating contemporary language, complete with slang, to an epic/poetic level -- that's all well enough done, and there are some nice ideas, but overall it was a mess, and rather boring. Zelazny was certainly one of the greats, but for me, at any rate, this is a disappointment, nothing to compare with Lord of Light or This Immortal or the best short stories.
Doorways in the Sand
|(Cover by Ron Walotsky)|