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Roger Zelazny

Born Roger Joseph Zelazny
May 13, 1937(1937-05-13)
Euclid, Ohio, U.S.
Died June 14, 1995 (aged 58)
Santa Fe, New Mexico, U.S.
Pen name Harrison Denmark
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, The Doors of His Face, The Lamps of His Mouth, and Other Stories, Unicorn Variations, A Night in the Lonesome October

Roger Joseph Zelazny (May 13, 1937 – June 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 (also 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 then the novel Lord of Light (1967).

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

Contents

Biography

Roger Zelazny was born in Euclid, Ohio, the only child of Polish immigrant Joseph Frank Zelazny and Irish-American Josephine Flora Sweet. In high school, he became 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 1, 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 (he had also been engaged to folk singer Hedy West for six months in 1961/62[2]). 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 author Jane Lindskold.

His first fanzine appearance was part one of the story "Conditional Benefit" (Thurban 1 #3, 1953) and 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 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.

Raised as a Catholic by his parents, [3] Zelazny later declared himself a lapsed Catholic and remained that way for the rest of his life. [4] “I did have a strong Catholic background, but I am not a Catholic. Somewhere in the past, I believe I answered in the affirmative once for strange and complicated reasons. But I am not a member of any organized religion.”[5]

Zelazny died in 1995, aged 58, of kidney failure secondary to colorectal cancer. Other sources have incorrectly indicated lung cancer.[6]

Trademarks

Roger Zelazny frequently portrayed familiar-seeming worlds with plausible magic systems and/or casually supernatural beings. His novels and short stories often involve characters from myth, depicted in the modern world. Zelazny was also apt to include numerous anachronistic present-day elements, such as cigarette-smoking (see below) and references to various drama classics into his fantasy and science-fiction works. His crisp, minimalistic dialogue also seems to be somewhat influenced by the wisecracking hardboiled crime authors, such as Raymond Chandler or Dashiell Hammett. This tension between the ancient and the modern, surreal and familiar was what drove most of his work.

A very frequent motif in Zelazny's work is gods or people who become gods. The mythological traditions his fiction borrowed from include:

Additionally, elements from Norse, Japanese and Irish mythology, Arthurian legend as well as several references to real history appear in his magnum opus, The Chronicles of Amber.

Two other personal characteristics that influenced his fiction were his expertise in martial arts and his smoking. Zelazny became expert with the épée in college, and thus began a life-long study of several different martial arts, including Karate, Judo, Aikido (which he later taught as well, having gained a black belt), T'ai Chi, Tae Kwon Do, Hapkido, Hsing I, and Pa Kua. In turn, many of his characters ably and knowledgeably use similar skills whilst dispatching their opponents. Zelazny was also a passionate cigarette and pipe smoker (until he quit in the early '80s), so much so, that he made many of his protagonists heavy smokers as well. However, he quit in order to improve his cardiovascular fitness for the martial arts; once he had quit, characters in his later novels and short stories stopped smoking too.[7]

Another characteristic of Zelazny's writing is that many of his protagonists had sufficient familiarity with other languages to be able to quote French, German, Italian or Latin aphorisms when the occasion seemed appropriate (or even inappropriate), although Zelazny himself did not speak any of those languages.

A common trademark of Zelazny's is the recurring motif of an "absent father" (or father-figure). Again, this occurs most notably in the Amber novels: in the first Amber series, the main protagonist Corwin searches for his lost, god-like father Oberon while in the second series, it is Corwin himself who is strangely missing. This somewhat Freudian theme runs through almost every Zelazny novel to a smaller or larger degree. Roadmarks, Doorways in the Sand, Changeling, Madwand, A Dark Traveling; the short stories "Dismal Light", "Godson", "The Keys to December"; and the Alien Speedway series all feature main characters who are either searching for or have lost their fathers. Zelazny’s father, Joseph, died unexpectedly in 1962 and never knew his son’s successes as a writer; this event may have triggered Zelazny's unconscious and frequent use of the absent father motif.[8]

He also often experimented with form in his stories. 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 road system that links all possible times, places and histories, the chapters that feature the main protagonist are all titled "One". Other chapters, entitled "Two", feature secondary characters, including original characters, pulp heroes, and real historical characters. The "One" storyline is fairly linear, whereas the "Two" storyline jumps around in time and sequence. After finishing the manuscript, Zelazny shuffled the "Two" chapters randomly among the "One" chapters in order to emphasize their non-linear nature relative to the storyline.[9]

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.

Zelazny 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.

Another common stylistic approach in his novels is the use of mixed genres, whereby elements of each are combined freely and interchangeably. Jack of Shadows and Changeling, for example, revolve around the tensions between the two worlds of magic and technology. Lord of Light, perhaps one of his most famous works, is written in the classic style of a mythic fantasy, while it is established early in the book that the story itself takes place on a colonized planet.[10]

Published works

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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. Listed in Zelazny's intended order[14], with first published dates shown, these include:

  • 2005 "A Secret of Amber" [story fragment co-written with Ed Greenwood between 1977 and 1992,[15] published in Amberzine #12-15]
  • 1985 "Prolog to Trumps of Doom"
  • 1994 "The Salesman's Tale"
  • 1995 "Blue Horse, Dancing Mountains"
  • 1994 "The Shroudling and The Guisel"
  • 1995 "Coming to a Cord"
  • 1996 "Hall of Mirrors"

The latter 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 were collected in Manna from Heaven. A deleted sex scene from The Guns of Avalon has been published in The Collected Stories of Roger Zelazny, Volume 3: This Mortal Mountain while all seven Amber short tales appear in volumes 5 and 6 of The Collected Stories of Roger Zelazny.

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.

Other novels and short novels

Collaborations

Posthumous collaborations

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

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).

Collections

Poetry collections

  • Poems (1974)
  • When Pussywillows Last in the Catyard Bloomed (1980)
  • To Spin is Miracle Cat (1981)
  • Hymn to the Sun: An Imitation (1996, assembled by Zelazny but released after his death)
  • The Collected Stories of Roger Zelazny (NESFA Press, 2009) (contains all of his known poetry including previously unpublished works)

Chapbooks

Anthologies

  • Thurban 1, issue #3, 1953 (Zelazny was assistant editor; part one of Zelazny's short story "Conditional Benefit" appeared here)
  • Senior Scandals (Euclid Senior High, 1955) (co-edited by Zelazny and Carl Yoke)
  • Nebula Award Stories Three (Doubleday, 1968)
  • Nozdrovia #1, 1968 (co-edited with Richard Patt)
  • Forever After (Baen, 1995)
  • Warriors of Blood and Dream (AvoNova, 1995)
  • Wheel of Fortune (AvoNova, 1995)
  • The Williamson Effect (Tor, 1996)

Zelazny was also a contributor to the Wild Cards shared world anthology series (edited by George R. R. Martin), 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.

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.[29]

  • "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).
  • Unicorn Variations won the 1984 Locus Award (collection) and the 1984 Balrog Award (collection/anthology).
  • "24 Views of Mt. Fuji, by Hokusai" won the 1986 Hugo Award (novella).
  • "Permafrost" won the 1987 Hugo Award (novelette).
  • Of note: His books were a major inspiration for the classic computer game Planescape: Torment developed by Black Isle Studios. [30]

Biographies and literary critiques

  • Yoke, Carl. Roger Zelazny: Starmont Reader's Guide 2. West Linn, Oregon: Starmont House, 1979. [AKA The Reader's Guide to Roger Zelazny, Borgo Press, 1985]
  • Yoke, Carl. Roger Zelazny and Andre Norton: Proponents of Individualism. Columbus, Ohio: State University of Ohio, 1979.
  • Krulik, Theodore. Roger Zelazny. New York: Ungar Publishing, 1986.
  • Lindskold, Jane M. Roger Zelazny. New York: Twayne Publishers, 1993.
  • Kovacs, Christopher S. " '...And Call Me Roger': The Early Literary Life of Roger Zelazny." The New York Review of Science Fiction #246, Vol. 21 No. 6, February 2009, p 1, 8-19. [Essay-length excerpt of full biography shown in next entry]
  • Kovacs, Christopher S. "...And Call Me Roger": The Literary Life of Roger Zelazny. Published in 6 parts as part of The Collected Stories of Roger Zelazny, Volumes 1 to 6, Boston: NESFA Press, 2009. [see volume titles at the external link or above under Collections]

Bibliographies

  • Yoke, Carl. Roger Zelazny: Starmont Reader's Guide 2. West Linn, Oregon: Starmont House, 1979. [AKA The Reader's Guide to Roger Zelazny, Borgo Press, 1985] [This book is both biography and bibliography, hence dual entry]
  • Levack, Daniel J. H. Amber Dreams: A Roger Zelazny Bibliography. San Francisco: Underwood-Miller, 1983.
  • 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. Galactic Central #38 UK and US: Galactic Central, 1991.
  • Stephens, Christopher P. A Checklist of Roger Zelazny. New York: Ultramarine Press, 1991.
  • Kovacs, Christopher S. The Ides of Octember: A Bibliography of Roger Zelazny. Boston: NESFA Press, 2010 [forthcoming]

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. http://www.springerlink.com/content/x62l24pkq771133g/?p=e5a78e8866344e199a961172380e7d6e&pi=1. Retrieved 2008-12-26. 
  2. ^ "...And Call Me Roger": The Literary Life of Roger Zelazny, Part 1, by Christopher S. Kovacs. In: The Collected Stories of Roger Zelazny, Volume 1: Threshold, NESFA Press, 2009.
  3. ^ "...And Call Me Roger": The Literary Life of Roger Zelazny, Part 1, by Christopher S. Kovacs. In: The Collected Stories of Roger Zelazny, Volume 1: Threshold, NESFA Press, 2009.
  4. ^ "...And Call Me Roger": The Literary Life of Roger Zelazny, Part 3, by Christopher S. Kovacs. In: The Collected Stories of Roger Zelazny, Volume 3: This Mortal Mountain, NESFA Press, 2009.
  5. ^ "...And Call Me Roger": The Literary Life of Roger Zelazny, Part 3, by Christopher S. Kovacs. In: The Collected Stories of Roger Zelazny, Volume 3: This Mortal Mountain, NESFA Press, 2009.
  6. ^ IMDB Biography [1]
  7. ^ "...And Call Me Roger": The Literary Life of Roger Zelazny, Part 3, by Christopher S. Kovacs. In: The Collected Stories of Roger Zelazny, Volume 3: This Mortal Mountain, NESFA Press, 2009.
  8. ^ "...And Call Me Roger": The Literary Life of Roger Zelazny, Part 5, by Christopher S. Kovacs. In: The Collected Stories of Roger Zelazny, Volume 5: Nine Black Doves, NESFA Press, 2009.
  9. ^ "...And Call Me Roger": The Literary Life of Roger Zelazny, Part 4, by Christopher S. Kovacs. In: The Collected Stories of Roger Zelazny, Volume 4: Last Exit to Babylon, NESFA Press, 2009.
  10. ^ "...And Call Me Roger"": The Literary Life of Roger Zelazny, Part 2, by Christopher S. Kovacs. In: The Collected Stories of Roger Zelazny, Volume 2: Power & Light, NESFA Press, 2009.
  11. ^ a b "1986 Award Winners & Nominees". Worlds Without End. http://www.worldswithoutend.com/books_year_index.asp?year=1986. Retrieved 2009-05-17. 
  12. ^ "1987 Award Winners & Nominees". Worlds Without End. http://www.worldswithoutend.com/books_year_index.asp?year=1987. Retrieved 2009-05-17. 
  13. ^ "1988 Award Winners & Nominees". Worlds Without End. http://www.worldswithoutend.com/books_year_index.asp?year=1988. Retrieved 2009-05-17. 
  14. ^ "...And Call Me Roger": The Literary Life of Roger Zelazny, Part 6, by Christopher S. Kovacs. In: The Collected Stories of Roger Zelazny, Volume 6: The Road to Amber, NESFA Press, 2009.
  15. ^ "...And Call Me Roger": The Literary Life of Roger Zelazny, Part 6, by Christopher S. Kovacs. In: The Collected Stories of Roger Zelazny, Volume 6: The Road to Amber, NESFA Press, 2009.
  16. ^ a b "1966 Award Winners & Nominees". Worlds Without End. http://www.worldswithoutend.com/books_year_index.asp?year=1966. Retrieved 2009-05-17. 
  17. ^ "...And Call Me Roger": The Literary Life of Roger Zelazny, Part 4, by Christopher S. Kovacs. In: The Collected Stories of Roger Zelazny, Volume 4: Last Exit to Babylon, NESFA Press, 2009.
  18. ^ "1967 Award Winners & Nominees". Worlds Without End. http://www.worldswithoutend.com/books_year_index.asp?year=1967. Retrieved 2009-05-17. 
  19. ^ a b "1968 Award Winners & Nominees". Worlds Without End. http://www.worldswithoutend.com/books_year_index.asp?year=1968. Retrieved 2009-05-17. 
  20. ^ "1969 Award Winners & Nominees". Worlds Without End. http://www.worldswithoutend.com/books_year_index.asp?year=1969. Retrieved 2009-05-17. 
  21. ^ "1972 Award Winners & Nominees". Worlds Without End. http://www.worldswithoutend.com/books_year_index.asp?year=1972. Retrieved 2009-05-17. 
  22. ^ "1975 Award Winners & Nominees". Worlds Without End. http://www.worldswithoutend.com/books_year_index.asp?year=1975. Retrieved 2009-05-17. 
  23. ^ "1976 Award Winners & Nominees". Worlds Without End. http://www.worldswithoutend.com/books_year_index.asp?year=1976. Retrieved 2009-05-17. 
  24. ^ "1981 Award Winners & Nominees". Worlds Without End. http://www.worldswithoutend.com/books_year_index.asp?year=1981. Retrieved 2009-05-17. 
  25. ^ "1982 Award Winners & Nominees". Worlds Without End. http://www.worldswithoutend.com/books_year_index.asp?year=1982. Retrieved 2009-05-17. 
  26. ^ "1994 Award Winners & Nominees". Worlds Without End. http://www.worldswithoutend.com/books_year_index.asp?year=1994. Retrieved 2009-05-17. 
  27. ^ "...And Call Me Roger": The Literary Life of Roger Zelazny, Part 6, by Christopher S. Kovacs. In: The Collected Stories of Roger Zelazny, Volume 6: The Road to Amber, NESFA Press, 2009.
  28. ^ http://www.nesfa.org/press/Books/Zelazny-Project.html
  29. ^ SF Awards Index [2]
  30. ^ Interview with Planescape: Torment lead designer Chris Avellone [3]

External links


Quotes

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikiquote

The universe did not invent justice. Man did. Unfortunately, man must reside in the universe.

Roger Joseph Zelazny (13 May 193714 June 1995) was an American writer of fantasy and science fiction short stories and novels. He won the Nebula award three times, with 14 nominations, and the Hugo award six times, also with 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).

See also:
The Chronicles of Amber
Lord of Light

Contents

Sourced

At the end of the season of sorrows comes the time of rejoicing. Spring, like a well-oiled clock, noiselessly indicates this time.
Yeah, the mythology is kind of a pattern. I'm very taken by mythology.
It is no shame to lose to me, mortal. Even among mythical creatures there are very few who can give a unicorn a good game.
  • At the end of the season of sorrows comes the time of rejoicing. Spring, like a well-oiled clock, noiselessly indicates this time.
    • Opening lines from Zelazny's first published short story, Passion Play (1962)
  • Occasionally, there arises a writing situation where you see an alternative to what you are doing, a mad, wild gamble of a way for handling something, which may leave you looking stupid, ridiculous or brilliant — you just don't know which. You can play it safe there, too, and proceed along the route you'd mapped out for yourself. Or you can trust your personal demon who delivered that crazy idea in the first place.
    Trust your demon.
    • Introduction to Passion Play (1962)
  • The universe did not invent justice. Man did. Unfortunately, man must reside in the universe.
    • Charles Render, from the novella He Who Shapes (1965) and its subsequently expanded novel version The Dream Master (1966)
  • Of all the things a man may do, sleep probably contributes most to keeping him sane. It puts brackets about each day. If you do something foolish or painful today, you get irritated if somebody mentions it, today. If it happened yesterday, though, you can nod or chuckle, as the case may be. You've crossed through nothingness or dream to another island in Time.
  • Insofar as I may be heard by anything, which may or may not care what I say, I ask, if it matters, that you be forgiven for anything you may have done or failed to do which requires forgiveness. Conversely, if not forgiveness but something else may be required to insure any possible benefit for which you may be eligible after the destruction of your body, I ask that this, whatever it may be, be granted or withheld, as the case may be, in such a manner as to insure your receiving said benefit. I ask this in my capacity as your elected intermediary between yourself and that which may not be yourself, but which may have an interest in the matter of your receiving as much as it is possible for you to receive of this thing, and which may in some way be influenced by this ceremony. Amen.
  • I see myself as a novelist, period. I mean, the material I work with is what is classified as science fiction and fantasy, and I really don't think about these things when I'm writing. I'm just thinking about telling a story and developing my characters.
    • "A Conversation With Roger Zelazny" (8 April 1978), talking with Terry Dowling and Keith Curtis in Science Fiction Vol. 1, #2 (June 1978)
  • Good-bye, and hello, as always.
    • The Courts of Chaos (1978)
  • "It is no shame to lose to me, mortal. Even among mythical creatures there are very few who can give a unicorn a good game."
    "I am pleased that you were not wholly bored," Martin said. "Now will you tell me what you were talking about concerning the destruction of my species?"
    "Oh, that," Tlingel replied.
    • Unicorn Variation (1982)
  • Every now and then it's nice to stop and just look over what you've been writing and the way you've been writing it and sort of reassess it, and see if you've fallen into bad habits or there's something you'd like to get better at. One way of reexamining your own work is to work with somebody else. It's a learning experience. I don't want to get into a rut.
  • I got the idea for that story in May of 1979 I didn't know what it was going to be; I just thought it would be neat to write something about Jack the Ripper's dog, and ask Gahan Wilson to illustrate it, partly because of the fact that a dog is such an unusual person. No matter who owns a dog, if that person is nice to the animal, the dog is going to love him. I thought at the time, if you take a really despicable person, a serial killer or someone like that, and tell a story from his dog's point of view it would make him look pretty good.
  • Oh, I don't know - that's a hell of a question - I don't tend to look at my stuff that way. I just look at it a book at a time. Something like the Amber books are in a different class. I try not to anticipate. I don't know what I'll be writing a few years from now. I have some ideas - I have lots of different things I want to try. I almost don't really care what history thinks. I like the way I'm being treated right now.
    • On how he would like to be remembered (1994)

Phlogiston interview (1995)

After a while the business end of writing takes too much of the writing time. Better to pay someone ten percent and find that you're still more than ten percent ahead in the end.
My favorite form is the short story. From an aesthetics stand point you really have to pare down to the bone. You can't write a throw-away scene.
An Interview with Roger Zelazny by Alex Heatley in Phlogiston Forty Four (1995)
  • Well, I decided that as a teenager that I really didn't know enough to describe character well and I was wasting my time. I'd learned as much as I could about story telling techniques and it wasn't a matter of technique any more. It was a matter of substance. As a result I said I was going to wait until I was a lot older and had more experience. So it was that after I got out of college I'd been away from SF for about four years. I'd read SF steadily from when I was eleven until I started college. When I started college I said, "I'm not going to read that while I'm here, I'm going to learn poetry and other things of that sort" in fact I wrote a lot of poetry then.
  • I'd had a long talk with Bob Silverberg, who was very influential on my early career. He'd, out of the kindness of his heart, at a convention told me that he thought I'd made several mistakes in the way I was disposing of my stories. And I said, "I don't understand what you mean, but I'll be glad to buy you a few drinks, if you'll tell me about it". So we adjourned to the bar and sat there a couple of hours. He was drinking Bloody Marys back then; I was drinking Black Russians. And he told me all sorts of things which carried me over the next several years; it was a lot of information for a couple of drinks. He told me that the first thing I should do if I wanted to write full-time was to get a really good agent. He said that after a while the business end of writing takes too much of the writing time. Better to pay someone ten percent and find that you're still more than ten percent ahead in the end.
    Which is true. My present agent says that he always feels that a good agent during the course of a year should earn back for his client at least the ten percent he takes by way of commission, so the client's really nothing out. And what he should ideally do is make him more money than the ten percent.
  • I try to write every day. I used to try to write four times a day, minimum of three sentences each time. It doesn't sound like much but it's kinda like the hare and the tortoise. If you try that several times a day you're going to do more than three sentences, one of them is going to catch on. You're going to say "Oh boy!" and then you just write. You fill up the page and the next page. But you have a certain minimum so that at the end of the day, you can say "Hey I wrote four times today, three sentences, a dozen sentences. Each sentence is maybe twenty word long. That's 240 words which is a page of copy, so at least I didn't goof off completely today. I got a page for my efforts and tomorrow it might be easier because I've moved as far as I have".
  • When I started writing my first novel, And Call me Conrad, they always say: "Write about what you know" and I said "Well, if I get a nice sort of combination SF and Fantasy with these resonances from Greek Mythology it might be pretty good. It would also give me a chance to start filling in my background on all those things I don't know much about but should if I want to be an SF writer."
    So I sat down and made a list of everything I felt I should know more about. Astrophysics, oceanography, marine biology, genetics... Then when I'd finished the list I read one book in each of these areas. When I'd finished I went back and read a second book until I'd read ten books in each area. I thought that it wouldn't turn me into a terrific, fantastic expert but I'd at least have enough material there to know if I was saying something wrong. And I'd also know where to turn to get the information I want to make it right.
    While I was doing this, to keep the words and cheques flowing I wrote books involving mythology. And once I started picking up things involving astrophysics I'd write stories that played with those sorts of things. So that's why I started out with mythology.
  • My favorite form is the short story. From an aesthetics stand point you really have to pare down to the bone. You can't write a throw-away scene.

Others about Zelazny

listed alphabetically by author
  • His stories are sunk to the knees in maturity and wisdom, in bravura writing that breaks rules most writers only suspect exist. His concepts are fresh, his attacks bold, his resolutions generally trenchant. Thus leading us inexorably to the conclusion that Roger Zelazny is the reincarnation of Geoffrey Chaucer.
He was a poet, first, last, always. His words sang.
  • Zelazny, telling of gods and wizards, uses magical words as if he himself were a wizard. He reaches Into the subconscious and invokes archetypes to make the hair rise on the back of your neck. Yet these archetypes are transmuted into a science fictional world that is as believable — and as awe-inspiring — as the world you now live in.
    • Philip José Farmer, in a promotional blurb for The Last Defender of Camelot‎ (1980) by Roger Zelazny
  • Roger Zelazny died as I completed the first chapter of The Wake and his memorial informed the second chapter.
  • For absent friends — Kathy Acker and Roger Zelazny, and all points between.
  • Zelazny likes to develop different systems of magic, but his emphasis is on systems. He feels the magic should be worked out and contain no contradictions. It should run more like science and not be too supernatural in which anything goes. That route leads to magic being a crutch to move the plot along. He also likes to use the mystery plot. He feels that there is an elegance to having a puzzle overlaid on a fantasy or SF novel. The mystery helps build the mythic elements in fantasy, but is also akin to the process of discovery in science.
  • Sadly, at least two wonderful "untold tales" of the Sleeper were lost when Roger Zelazny passed away. I know that Roger had always intended to bring back Croyd's boyhood friend Joey Sarzanno, and tell the story of the crystallized woman that Croyd kept in his closet. But he never had the chance, and now he never will. Croyd will continue to be a part of Wild Cards — Roger deliberately crafted the character so he would be easy for the other writers to use, and always delighted in seeing what we did with him — but it would take an unusual amount of hubris for any of us to attempt to write either of those two stories, and it is not something I would encourage. They were Roger's stories. No one else could do 'em justice.

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