Roger Zelazny

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Roger Zelazny

Born May 13, 1937(1937-05-13)
Euclid, Ohio
Died June 14, 1995 (aged 58)
Santa Fe, New Mexico
Occupation Author
Nationality American
Genres Fantasy, Science-fiction
Literary movement New Wave (although he denounced the term himself)
Notable work(s) Lord of Light, The Chronicles of Amber, A Night in the Lonesome October

Roger Joseph Zelazny (May 13, 1937June 14, 1995) was an American writer of fantasy and science fiction short stories and novels. He won the Nebula award three times (out of 14 nominations) and the Hugo award six times (out of 14 nominations), including two Hugos for novels: the serialized novel ...And Call Me Conrad (1965; subsequently published under the title This Immortal, 1966) and the novel Lord of Light (1967).

The ostracod Sclerocypris zelaznyi was named after him.[1]


[edit] Biography

Zelazny was born in Euclid, Ohio, the only child of Polish immigrant Joseph Frank Zelazny (Żelazny, Polish for "iron" or "cast-iron" -adjective) and Irish-American Josephine Flora Sweet. In high school, Roger Zelazny was the editor of the school newspaper and joined the Creative Writing Club. In the fall of 1955, he began attending Western Reserve University and graduated with a B.A. in English in 1959. He was accepted to Columbia University in New York and specialized in Elizabethan and Jacobean drama, graduating with an M.A. in 1962. Between 1962 and 1969 he worked for the U.S. Social Security Administration in Cleveland, Ohio and then in Baltimore, Maryland spending his evenings writing science fiction. He deliberately progressed from short-shorts to novelettes to novellas and finally to novel-length works by 1965. On May 1st, 1969, he quit to become a full-time writer, and thereafter concentrated on writing novels in order to maintain his income. During this period, he was an active and vocal member of the Baltimore Science Fiction Society, whose members included other writers Jack Chalker, Joe and Jack Haldeman among others.

Zelazny was married twice, to Sharon Steberl in 1964 (and divorced, no children) and to Judith Alene Callahan, in 1966. Roger and Judy had two sons, Devin and Trent, and a daughter, Shannon. At the time of his death, Roger and Judy were separated and he was living with noted author Jane Lindskold.

His first fanzine appearance was part one of the story "Conditional Benefit" (Thurban 1 #3, 1953) whereas his first professional publication and sale was the fantasy short story "Mr. Fuller's Revolt" (Literary Calvalcade, 1954). As a professional writer, his debut works were the simultaneous publication of "Passion Play" (Amazing, August 1962) and "Horseman!" (Fantastic, August 1962). "Passion Play" was written and sold first. His first story to attract major attention was "A Rose for Ecclesiastes", published in The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, with cover art by Hannes Bok.

Roger Zelazny usually portrayed worlds with plausible magic systems, powers, and casually supernatural beings. His descriptions of the nuts and bolts of magical workings set his fantasy writing apart from otherwise similar authors. His science fiction was also highly influenced by mythology, poetry, including the French, British, and American classics of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, and by wisecracking detective fiction. His novels and short stories often involved characters from myth, depicted in the modern world. He was also apt to include references to William Shakespeare and/or modern elements, such as cigarette-smoking and references to Marxism, into his fantasy worlds. Novels such as Jack of Shadows and Changeling revolve around a tension between two worlds, one based on magic and the other on technology.

Roger Zelazny (along with Ursula K. Le Guin, Harlan Ellison and others) was considered to be one of the leading lights of the "New Wave" movement in science fiction, which changed the face of the genre in the 1960s. He sometimes incorporated elements from literary novels of the mainstream into his fiction, and experimented with allusion, lyricism, and mythic imagery. The mythological traditions his fiction borrowed from include:

Additionally, elements from Norse mythology, Japanese mythology and history, and numerous other traditions appear in works such as The Chronicles of Amber (a popular ten novel series) and Zelazny's "24 Views of Mt. Fuji, by Hokusai." That novella was inspired in part by Hokusai’s Views of Mt. Fuji (Charles Tuttle, 1965), a book that contains precisely 24 prints by Hokusai and in the exact sequence indicated by Zelazny's story; also, the character Mari consults that very book during the story. (Hokusai painted more than 100 images of Mt. Fuji but he is best known for another selection of them: "36 Views of Mt. Fuji, by Hokusai").

A very frequent motif in Zelazny's work is gods or people who become gods; another is the theme of an "absent father" (or father-figure). The latter occurs most notably in the Amber novels: in the first Amber series, the main protagonist Corwin searches for his lost, god-like father Oberon; in the second series, it is Corwin himself who is strangely missing. This Freudian theme recurs in Roadmarks, Doorways in the Sand, Changeling, Madwand, and A Dark Traveling.

Roger Zelazny was also a member of the Swordsmen and Sorcerers' Guild of America (SAGA), a loose-knit group of Heroic Fantasy authors founded in the 1960s, some of whose works were anthologized in Lin Carter's Flashing Swords! anthologies.

Zelazny died in 1995, aged 58, of kidney failure secondary to colorectal cancer. Other sources have incorrectly indicated lung cancer.[2]

[edit] Bibliographies

  • Levack, Daniel H. C. Amber Dreams: A Roger Zelazny Bibliography. San Francisco: Underwood-Miller, 1983.
  • Jane Lindskold|Lindskold, Jane M. Roger Zelazny. New York: Twayne Publishers, 1993.
  • Sanders, Joseph. Roger Zelazny: A Primary and Secondary Bibliography. Boston: G. K. Hall and Co., 1980.
  • Stephensen-Payne, Phil. Roger Zelazny, Master of Amber: A Working Bibliography. San Bernardo: Borgo Press, 1991.[3]

[edit] Experimental novels and unpublished sketches

Zelazny often experimented with form in his novels. The novel Doorways in the Sand practices a flashback technique in which most chapters open with a scene, typically involving peril, not implied by the end of the previous chapter. Once the scene is established, the narrator backtracks to the events leading up to it, then follows through to the end of the chapter, whereupon the next chapter jumps ahead to another dramatic non-sequitur.

In Roadmarks, a novel about a highway that links all times and possible histories, the chapters that feature the main character are all titled "One". Other chapters, titled "Two", feature secondary characters, including original characters, pulp heroes, and real people. The "One" storyline is fairly linear, but the "Two" storyline jumps around in time and sequence.

Creatures of Light and Darkness, featuring characters in the personae of Egyptian gods, uses a narrative voice entirely in the present tense; the final chapter is structured as a play, and several chapters take the form of long poems.

He also tended to write a short fragment, not intended for publication, as a kind of backstory for a major character, as a way of giving that character a life independent of the particular novel being worked on. At least one "fragment" was published, the short story "Dismal Light", originally a backstory for Isle of the Dead's Francis Sandow. Sandow himself figures little in "Dismal Light", the main character being his son, who is delaying his escape from an unstable star system in order to force his distant father to come in and ask him personally. While Isle of the Dead has Sandow living a life of irresponsible luxury as an escape from his personal demons, "Dismal Light" anchors his character as one who will face up to his responsibilities, however reluctantly.

[edit] Bibliography

[edit] Amber novels

While his earlier works won greater critical acclaim, Zelazny is probably best known for the Amber novels. These fall into two distinct series of novels, together with a set of short stories.

The first five books describe the adventures of Prince Corwin of Amber:

The second series tells the story of Corwin's son Merlin (Merle), a wizard and computer expert. These volumes are:

Zelazny also wrote several short stories set in the Amber multiverse. These include:

  • 1993 "Prologue to Trumps of Doom"
  • 1994 "The Salesman's Tale"
  • 1994 "The Shroudling and The Guisel"
  • 1995 "Coming to a Cord"
  • 1995 "Blue Horse, Dancing Mountains"
  • 1996 "Hall of Mirrors"
  • 2005 "A Secret of Amber" [story fragment co-written with Ed Greenwood, published in Amberzine #12-15]

The middle five of these seven short stories form one tale, taking place after Prince of Chaos.

All 10 novels have been published in a single omnibus form as The Great Book of Amber and six of the seven short stories have been collected in Manna from Heaven.

Zelazny also contributed to a spin-off work, The Visual Guide to Castle Amber (1988) which was a reference work detailing biographies of the Amber characters and a detailed guide to Castle Amber itself. This was written by Neil Randall and illustrated by Todd Cameron Hamilton and James Clouse.

John Betancourt has written a series of novels set in the Amber multiverse. Betancourt's series tells the story of Corwin's father Oberon, a wizard and shapeshifter. It is set several centuries before Nine Princes in Amber. That the Zelazny estate authorized the series has caused some controversy; see The Chronicles of Amber for more details.

An interactive fiction computer game based on Nine Princes in Amber was released by Telarium in 1987. The Amber novels also inspired a unique role-playing game, lacking any random element: Amber Diceless Roleplaying, published by Phage Press.

[edit] Other novels and short novels

[edit] Collaborations

[edit] Posthumous collaborations

Two books begun by Zelazny were completed by companion and novelist Jane Lindskold after Zelazny's death:

Also, the adventure game Chronomaster (developed by DreamForge Intertainment, published by IntraCorp in 1996) was designed by Zelazny and Jane Lindskold (who also finished it after his death).

[edit] Collections

[edit] Poetry collections

[edit] Chapbooks

[edit] Anthologies

Zelazny was also a contributor to the Wild Cards shared world anthology series, following the exploits of his character Croyd Crenson, the Sleeper.

Zelazny created the Alien Speedway series of novels (Clypsis by Jeffrey A. Carver, Pitfall and The Web by Thomas Wylde) which appeared between 1986-87. His own story "Deadboy Donner and the Filstone Cup" appears to have been inspired by the outline that he wrote for Alien Speedway.

Zelazny created and edited a shared world anthology called Forever After. The frame story uses preludes, written by Roger, to connect the stories. This shared world involved stories by Robert Asprin, David Drake, Jane Lindskold, and Michael A. Stackpole. Forever After was published by Baen Books posthumously.

Following Zelazny's death, a tribute anthology entitled Lord of the Fantastic was released. This featured stories inspired by Zelazny, and personal recollections by contributors such as Robert Silverberg, Fred Saberhagen, Jennifer Roberson, Walter Jon Williams, Gregory Benford and many others.

[edit] Awards

Winner of 6 Hugo Awards, 3 Nebula Awards, 2 Locus Awards, 1 Prix Tour-Apollo Award, 2 Seiun Awards, and 2 Balrog Awards - very often Zelazny's works competed with each other for the same award.[4]

  • "The Doors of His Face, the Lamps of His Mouth" won the 1966 Nebula Award (novelette).
  • "He Who Shapes" tied for the 1966 Nebula Award (novella)
  • This Immortal won the 1976 Seiun Award (foreign novel).
  • "The Last Defender of Camelot" won the 1980 Balrog Award (short fiction).
  • "Unicorn Variation" won the 1982 Hugo Award (novelette) and the 1984 Seiun Award (foreign short fiction).
  • "24 Views of Mt. Fuji, by Hokusai" won the 1986 Hugo Award (novella).
  • Trumps of Doom won the 1986 Locus Award (fantasy novel).
  • "Permafrost" won the 1987 Hugo Award (novelette).

[edit] References

  1. ^ Martens, Koen (May, 1988). "Seven new species and two new subspecies of Sclerocypris SARS, 1924 from Africa, with new records of some other Megalocypridinids (Crustacea, Ostracoda)". Hydrobiologia (Springer Netherlands) 162 (3): 243-273. doi:10.1007/BF00016672. Retrieved on 2008-12-26. 
  2. ^ IMDB Biography [1]
  3. ^ Source of bibliographical information. Jane Lindskold via Roger Zelazny. 1993.
  4. ^ SF Awards Index [2]
  5. ^ Interview with Planescape: Torment lead designer Chris Avellone [3]

[edit] External links

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