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classic fantasy & science fiction   Roger Zelazny

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1937 - 1995


Roger Zelazny made his name with a group of novellas which demonstrated just how intense an emotional charge could be generated by the stock imagery of sf; the most famous of these is 'A Rose for Ecclesiastes' in which a poet struggles to convince dying and sterile Martians that life is worth continuing. Zelazny continued to write excellent short stories throughout his career, which share the inventiveness of these early novellas, but lack some of their intensity. Most of his novels deal, one way or another, with gods and rogues, often with gods who are rogues, like Sam in Lord of Light, who reinvents Buddhism as a vehicle for political subversion against his fellow-crew members who have appointed themselves as immortal gods in a colony whose social system derives from classical Hinduism. The fantasy sequence The Amber Chronicles, which started with Nine Princes in Amber, deals with the ruling family of a Platonic realm at the heart of things, who can slide trickster-like through realities, and their wars with each other and the related ruling house of Chaos. Zelazny never entirely fulfilled his early promise--who could?--but he and his work were much loved, and a potent influence on such younger writers as George RR Martin and Neil Gaiman.