Roger Zelazny emerged on the science fiction scene in the 1960s with a series of revolutionary stories that combined a pulpy sensibility with an allusive pyrotechnic prose. One of his many admirers is the writer F. Brett Cox, who has just published one book on the author.
“It’s a little hard to overstate the impact his work has on people who truly love him,” Cox says in episode 467 of the Geek’s Guide to the Galaxy podcast. “In my own fiction, I’ve arguably spent my entire career just trying to write something that would affect someone as strongly as the last sentence of ‘A Rose for Ecclesiastes’ it touched me the first time I read it. “
In the 70s and 80s, Zelazny achieved phenomenal success with his volume 10 Amber series, but critics thought the story of the sword and magic was a loss of his talents. Cox believes the critical consensus is about Amber it is, at best, an oversimplification.
“There’s often a gap between what we as academics or critics want literature to do and what literature actually does,” he says. “And I think the Amber the series is a good example of what literature can actually do. Give readers a world to lose themselves in and be a part of. I just add them. ”
And although Zelazny’s critical reputation may have waned over the years, his lively and playful narrative style has had too great an influence on many generations of fantasy writers. “I mentioned a few younger writers at the end of the book about how Zelazny had influenced his work,” says Cox, “and it’s good that with at least one of them, and maybe all of them, that Amber it was the front door – the Amber it’s the books that brought it. ”
Zelazny remains the most unknown outside of science fiction, but Cox hopes that a film or TV adaptation can make him a household name, as happened with Zelazny’s close friend George RR Martin.
“It was a few years ago.” speak that Robert Kirkman, who did The walking Dead, wanted to make a miniseries of And Chronicles of Amber“So there have been suggestions that maybe that will lead to a kind of broader awareness.”
Listen to the full interview with F. Brett Cox in Episode 467 of Geek’s Guide to the Galaxy (above). And check out some highlights from the discussion below.
F. Brett Cox on Zelazny’s personality:
“[Zelazny] he was still connected with Samuel R. Delany, and was also good friends with Harlan Ellison. It’s an interesting contrast, because they were strong and very well-known contemporaries. And of course we all know how much Harlan Ellison wrote about himself, and Delany did a vast memoir. But Zelazny did not. … I talked to people, as much as possible, who knew Zelazny — among the people I knew or had access to — and it was truly an extraordinarily universal consensus as to how well I was personally considered. No one had a bad word to say about him, and it was very nice to learn. But even many people have noted that, as they say, they were held by him. There was always a bit of distance here. ”
F. Brett Cox on Zelazny’s criticisms:
“In terms of Zelazny ‘s monographic studies, there was a first one of Carl Yoke, who was a longtime academic in science-fiction studies, and was also a close friend of Zelazny’s — grew up together in Ohio. And then there it was The book of Krulik, and then there was Lindskold’s book. There is a quote from Lindskold in his introduction to one of the volumes of the NESFA press collected stories, and his claim is that Zelazny wrote some of these seemingly more conventional stories of swords and sorcery because he liked this stuff. I grew up reading it, I really loved this particular branch of genre fiction, and I wrote it because I wanted to. ”
F. Brett Cox on literary reputation: –
“The question of literary reputation is infinitely complicated and endlessly fascinating.” … Certainly Bradbury is still the writer of science fiction that people know even if they don’t read science fiction, and Philip K. Dick has joined that society as well. But even if you look closely [Zelazny’s] contemporaries, people like Delany, like Ursula Le Guin, like Joanna Russ, primarily like JG Ballard, [they all] has gained a reputation outside of science-fiction — Michael Moorcock is well known in contemporary British literature — and Zelazny didn’t really do that. And I don’t have an established answer for that. “
F. Brett Cox on Zelazny and Moorcock:
“When Moorcock was editing New Worlds and have serialized Norman Spinrad’s novel Bug Jack Barron, was denounced in Parliament for publishing obscene material. And Zelazny was caught up in that too. He has published a good deal of Creatures of Light and Darkness in New Worlds, and some of his short fiction here. A very interesting moment in the correspondence I read in the libraries between Zelazny and Moorcock was where Moorcock was just saying, ‘Give me more. Write something. ‘It’s amazing how much the other writers of his era considered his work, how the other writers of the’ 60s were just absolutely amazed at what he was doing. ‘
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