Skip to main content

In the fall of 1965 I received the latest copy of The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction in the mail, and found inside it a story by Roger Zelazny, an author I had never heard of before. The story was . . . And Call Me Conrad, renamed to This Immortal when it came out in book form the following year, and it blew me away. I must not have been the only one, since it won a Hugo for Best Novel at the 1966 World Science Fiction Convention (Zelazny won a total of 6 Hugo’s and 3 Nebula’s in his career) which it shared with Frank Herbert’s Dune. Earth was devastated by a nuclear war, and only a few million humans survived when the aliens invaded the planet, taking it over. Among the people fighting for Earth’s freedom was the god Pan, or perhaps just a long-lived mutant with mortal children. That was only the first of many masterpieces, which included Lord of Light, Isle of the Dead, Today We Choose Faces, Doorways in the Sand, Bring Me the Head of Prince Charming, and so many more. Besides all the other awards he won, I should probably mention that A Rose for Ecclesiastes was included in Visions of Mars: First Library on Mars, a DVD on board the Phoenix Mars Lander in 2008.

But if he had a single body of work that stood out above the rest, it had to be The Chronicles of Amber. In this multiverse there are only two true worlds: Amber, and the Courts of Chaos. All the myriad worlds between them, including our own version of Earth, are but shadows reflecting combinations of aspects of those two. The royal families of those two realms hold the power to walk the shadows, find the world that holds closest to their heart’s desire, and use the peoples and technologies/magics of that parallel timeline in the ongoing war for supremacy over all existence. Even with the amazing scope of the reality posited for the premise behind the location of the story, at its core this is still all about the relationships between all the people and gods involved with the struggle, and how they change and evolve over time. You should grab all 10 volumes of the original series (from your library or from your bookseller doesn’t matter, as long as you get them) and read them from beginning to end. I suspect you will decide it was time well spent once you do, and if you want more there are some additional works available.