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Roger Zelazny

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Titles to Look Out For: [in order of date of publication]
1966. 'And Call Me Conrad', later expanded into 'This Immortal'
1973. To Die in Italbar
1973. Guns of Avalon
1976. Deus Irae
1981. Roadmarks

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Zelazny, Roger. 'This Immortal' with cover illustration by Melvyn Grant, published in 1985 in Great Britain by Methuen, 186pp, 0413568407. Sorry, out of stock-but click image to access prebuilt search for this title on Amazon!
1985, Methuen.
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  • 'And Call Me Conrad'/This Immortal [top]
    First published in 1965 in the US in 'The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction' under the title '...And Call Me Conrad' in the October and November issues
    First published in the US in 1966 by Berkley as an expanded work entitled 'This Immortal'
    It tied with Frank Herbert's Dune for the 1966 Hugo Award for the Best Novel
    First published in 1985 in Great Britain as a Methuen paperback, 186pp, ISBN 0413568407. Original UK retail price: £1.95. Cover illustration: Melvyn Grant

Storyline: In the remarkable character of Conrad Nomikos, lives an awesome hero of Earth's future. After being devastated by a nuclear war, the Earth is a planet with a population of only 4 million, overrun by a variety of mutated lifeforms- a grotesque and dangerous managerie of half-men, centaurs and other Hot Hot Ones. But the deepest designs on the ravaged planet are held by the Vegans, the blue ones, masters of the universe who see the planet as a tourist location. Conrad Nomikos, the first person narrator, is a man with a past that he'd rather not talk about, and he's been given a task that he'd rather refuse: to show an influential Vegan around the old ruins of Earth. But Conrad suddenly finds himself the reluctant protector of this alien visitor when attempts are made on the Vegan's life. Conrad knows that keeping the Vegan alive is important—but now he must find out why... .

 

Zelazny, Roger. To Die in Italbar; A Dark Travelling. Published for the first time as a dual story volume in the United States in 2003 in paperback, 310pp, ISBN 0743445368. Condition: Very good with some mild handling wear, such as cover corners slightly curling up and a crease to the top corner of the introductory title page. Price:2003, ibooks, pbk

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Storyline of 'To Die in Italbar': Heidel von Hymack is a legend in the Universe - known to many only as H. and with a reputation as a holy man - the 'green-eyed saint from the stars'. He can heal the sick, but he is also a disease carrier - he can make thousands of people fall ill with diseases they have never had before and have no immunity to just by being near them. The only time he is safe is for a short time after a catharsis, something he undergoes frequently. When this has passed, for a short time he has the potential to heal and save by touch alone in ways the medical professions on the various planets he visits can only marvel at. Heidel has the blue goddess watching over him - Myra-o-arym and he sees her and talks with her during Catharsis - all seems well for the time being - but he has memories a shrine underground on Deiba and the goddess is evasive when he questions here - what is it he is trying to remember?

Unbeknown to H., he is being sought by others for differing reasons - Dr. Larman Pels, a powerful and influential medical researcher with a gritty determination to solve intractable and deadly diseases is trying to track down the one person who survived Mwalakharan Khurr - Deiban fever, which wiped out the population on the planet Deiba (all but one person...). He heads to the three artificial worlds designed by Francis Sandow and which constitute the heart of the Combined League planets - Solon, Elizabeth and Lincoln, to consult the Penopath Computer to try and track down where H. (Heidel) might be.

Malacar Miles and his telepath Shind - now living the life of space-travelling terrorists, refusing to accept that the Combined Leagues won the war against the DYNAB planets - are travelling round blowing up Combined League buildings, technologies, assets and people. Malacar used to be DYNAB's Fourth Fleet commander and shows no signs of stopping his (now personal) fight. His former crewmates, particularly Michael of Honsi, are worried that one day he may go too far and pull off such a huge disaster that it will cause large scale inter-planetary war all over again. He has to be stopped and only one person has the potential to do that - a former colleague-turned telepathic artist (he creates colourful crystal sculptures from telepathically entering client's dreams): John Morwin. John Morwin is just about the only friend that Malacar still has and who still visits to him; he is possibly the only person Malacar still listens to. But what John walks into is Malacar's personal mission to find the best weapon ever against the Combined Leagues...Heidel von Hymack and his armoury of diseases. However, little do they realise that Heidel has already embarked on his own mission to bring death and destruction to millions in the universe. But what role is the blue goddess playing in all of this? And how will Shind, the 2ft ball of telepathic fur,, John Morwin and Jackara stop her? Will there be another war?

Characters: (in relative order of importance)
Malacar Miles: Formerly Commander of the Fourth Fleet of DYNAB in the war against the Combined League
Shind - a 2 ft tall furry entity, telepathic
Heidel von Hymeck - survivor of the outbreak of Deiban fever on Deiba. Survived due to the intervention of the goddess Mar'i-ram, the queen of healing and of disease, beneath whose picture he lay sick and who took over his body
John Morwin - former comrade-in-arms of Malacar Miles fighting for DYNAB. Artist who produces colourful crystals by telekinetically sculpting them whilst telepathically connecting with a client's dreams
Jackara - working girl with a long-term crush on Malacar Miles - cannot believe he has walked into her place of work when he opens the door of the brothel
Dr. Larman Pels - disease expert and pathologist, kept alive (10 seconds from death) by a cocktail of chemicals. His body is frozen
Francis Sandow - designer of the hub planets of the Combined League. Actually meets Malacar Miles, Shind, and Jackara on Deiba
Michael of Honsi - goes to see his old friend and former military colleague John Morwin and asks him to have a word with Malacar Miles and get him to stop before he causes another war
Alyshia Curt - John Morwin's secretary
Horace - reception desk clerk at the brothel where Jackara works

Verdict: 8 out of 10: excellent story and the intertwined threads of the various characters is fascinating to follow. Despite the seeming fanatical adherence to finding the ultimate weapon, Malacar Miles (definitely the most interesting character in the story along with Shind) does not realise what he's messing with when he comes across Heidel and it's fascinating to watch his character recoil from something more evil than he could ever have considered possible. Interesting to see the story dominated by two strong male-female relationships, i.e. Heidel von Hymeck and the Blue Goddess; and Malacar Miles and Shind; and then additionally with Jackara

A Dark Travelling: James, Dave and Becky Wiley and their father Tom are seemingly a normal family...but Becky is a witch; James - well, he gets a sort of reaction on his skin to the full moon and he has an acute sense of smell; oh, - and his older brother Dave lives in a castle. Just to add extra spice to the whole living arrangements, they have an exchange student Barry living with them who is a trained assassin. Ripe for all sorts of adventure and excitement you might think and you'd be right! They live next to, and operate The Transit Foundation, which is involved with alternate realities; in that they can travel to and from these different realities through something called a transcomp machine. Each reality has a different band, like a radio, so depending on what reality you want to travel to, you just change the band on the transcomp. Both James' mother and father were involved; although James mother had been gone a long time now - presumed dead directly as a result of this work.

On the night in question, Becky the witch sensed that something terrible was going to happen, a feeling which was immediately followed by a gunshot. Collecting a weapon and James en route, they both go to the Foundation headquarters to investigate. They quickly establish that Tom has gone missing. There's a smell in the air and in the transcomp room there is blood on the floor. All the clues suggest that Tom has been taken by evildoers led by a man (a warlock) called Crow in a parallel world - a man known as Crow. The parallel world he has come from has gone bad and is known as a darkband (as opposed to lightbands, which are good). Someone from that darkband parallel world, a shapeshifter, appears to have come through to this reality using their family's transcomp equipment, an event that Becky, Tom's sister has unwittingly seen with her magical powers. Whilst they are working out what to do, James wakes up the Golem, called "Golly" to patrol the premises. Golly's a little scary, but effective - his main problem being that he tends to overpower anyone he hasn't yet scanned as safe, which doesn't improve his reputation with the family or visitors!

Becky, James, Barry the exchange student and Uncle George, the werewolf come together to find and save Tom, but they realise the magnitude of their task when they find that the transcomp equipment is broken and will not transmit them out to any of the bands where they believe Tom could have gone. There are two parallel worlds they must visit to see if they can track Tom down, but Becky has to return to ancient witchcraft methods to get Barry and James transmitted to them and a mix-up with the spell means that this does not go according to plan. James is landed in a very tricky situation in which he must take great care: a full moon at the wrong moment means that James's itchy palms could lead him right into trouble...

Characters: (in relative order of importance)
James, Jim Wiley (son)
Tom (Dad)
Becky (sister, but not through Tom)
Barry - exchange student from another lightband
Dalah, Jim's mum
Uncle George
Aunt Maryl
Dr. Wade
The Crow - warlock in a darkband

Verdict: 7 out of 10: Very good, but difficult to get into and well worth a second reading to understand firstly all the characters and secondly the nuances of the plot. The dream sequence that Becky goes through at the start of the book only works properly when you read it for that second time. For someone coming fresh to the story, it acts as an impediment to getting into the plot.

The transcomp machine motif in the story is all right, but it's weak and could have done with more thinking through, but there are some very neat ideas in this book about the dark, grey and lightbands and how they all interact with each other and I liked the idea of the warlock Crow, BUT I would have liked to have seen his character a lot more developed and much more of a battle sequence between him and the lightbanders. All in all, this is quite a cool story and it's main problem is that it should have been written into a much much larger story and volume. In fact, it would have benefited from being turned into an epic - perhaps a trilogy. It's too bitesize - it needs to become a 3-course meal. Perhaps someone will take up the gauntlet some day...!

 

 

 

 

Other Books on Parallel Worlds:

 

 

 

Other Zelazny Books:

Zelazny, Roger. The Guns of Avalon, published by Faber and Faber, 1974. UK 1st Edition with dustjacket (somewhat tatty), ISBN 0571104908. 182pp. Sorry, sold out. Click image to access prebuilt Amazon search for this title!
1974, Faber & Faber
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  • The Guns of Avalon [top]
    First published in the US in 1973 by Avon, NY in hardcover with dustjacket
    First published in 1974 in Great Britain by Faber & Faber, in hardcover with dustjacket. 182pp, ISBN 0571104908

Story: [from front dj flap]: A swashbuckling fantasy, which continues the legend of Amber, the world beyond imagining, first encountered in Nine Princes in Amber. The perfect kingdom, Amber is a state of mind which all men seek, while Earth and the many other parallel worlds are only shadows, parts of the same maze that lead to Amber; short-cuts or dangerous pathways depending upon the traveller's mind and the influence of other minds that use the Shadows for their own ends


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Storyline: Deus Irae takes us into an America devastated by World War III, in which Carl Lufteufel, the man who detonated the ultimate weapon of that conflict-thereby killiing over 1 billion people-is worshipped as the Deus Irae, the God of Wrath. A limbless artist, Tibor McMaster, is commissioned by his church to paint a mural of the God of Wrath; but first he has to set out on a journey to find Lufteufel, so that the likeness will be exact. Towed in a cart by his faithful Holstein cow, armed with a Polaroid camera for the fateful encounter, he embarks on his unlikely pilgrimage. His travels take him through a weird, shattered countryside, in which he encounters monsters and mutations, talking animals and malfunctioning (and sometimes malevolent) ancient machines. And when he finally reaches the end of his quest, what he finds is not at all what he had expected

Zelazny, Roger. 'Roadmarks', published in 1981 by The Science Fiction Book Club, in hardcover with dustjacket, 192pp. Sorry, sold out. Click image to access prebuilt Amazon search for this title!
1982, Roadmarks
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  • Roadmarks [top]
    First published in Great Britain by Macdonald Futura Publishers, 1981.
    Reprinted by the Readers Union in hardcover, 190 pages.

Story: The Road runs from the unimaginable past to the far future, and those who travel it have access to the runoffs leading to all times and places-even to the alternate timestream of histories that never happened. Why the dragons of Bel'kwinith made the Road-or who they are-no one knows. But the Road has always been there for those who know how to find it. One of those who know is Red Dorakeen who has travelled the Road for as long as he can remember. Once he walked it as an old man-now, much younger, he is driving his Dodge pick-up running guns to the Greeks fighting at Marathon. But someone has put out a contract on Red-filed legal notice of a series of ten attempts to murder him, under the laws that govern the Road. His hidden enemy has searched the past and future to recruit a band of assassins-human and otherwise-to pursue Red wherever the Road might take him

 

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