Thursday, September 15, 2011
WHO STARTED MY DREAM blogfest ...
I was lost. A storm had separated me from my cub scout pack.
The night was not my friend. I had used my one pack of matches to start a small, pathetic fire.
"Hello, the camp," drawled a deep yet protective voice.
"W-Who's there?," I quavered.
A tall man in black from his Stetson down to his boots walked soft out of the darkness. "A friend."
Then, the 10 year old boy I was woke up from his nightmare turned dream. And that tall Texan has been with me ever since.
But the book which gave me hope that I could write?
THIS IMMORTAL by Roger Zelazny :
If I were to pick a single science fiction author who was the essence of speculative fiction in the 1960's it would be Roger Zelazny. And while he continued to produce quality work, it was this period when both his quality and his intensity were at a peak that few authors ever reach.
This Immortal (AKA Call Me Conrad) is his first novel (closely tied with The Dream Master). It remains a masterpiece four decades after winning a Hugo award and in many ways it defined the themes that haunted Zelazny's writing for years to come.
Zelazny is fascinated with a certain form of divinity -
not the kind that 'is and has always been,' but with intelligent creatures that somehow 'graduate' from a more normal, mundane state.
In this novel the hero is Conrad Nimikos, a Greek, born on Christmas Eve, one leg shorter than the other, and altogether too much hair. In Greek terms, he was one of the kallikanzaroi, mischievous satyrs who exist to irritate both the human and the divine.
Zelazny never tells us how old Nimikos is, but he has lived long enough to have had several names and seen the Earth suffer a nuclear war and start to pick up the pieces.
This is an Odyssey we have been invited on, and everywhere we look Greek legends will appear just in time to cause unexpected torments and provide opportunities for Herculean efforts.
Even though this is a story told in wry fashion, Zelazny manages to use it to explore the meaning of grief. Sorrow for lost friends, loved ones, and an abiding sense of loss for an Earth that at the time of its writing was only showing faint glimmerings of it's future challenges.
This is a poignant book where Zelazny manages an exquisite balance between attitude and affection.
Small wonder that the book has been in print since its writing. Or that a host of other writers will confess to having been influenced by it.
Roger Zelazny gave form and substance to my Texan protector in the night.
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