A collection of selected stories written by Roger Zelazny from 1963 to 1968, which was published in 1971 and later revised to add two additional stories. The Kindle edition I read was published by ibooks inc. through Publisher’s Group West.
All the stories in this collection are both intriguing and compelling. The stories exhibit a good deal of variety, with the stories being long, short, or very short; the narrative spanning a single scene, a few days, a year, or thousands of years; the quality and mood being introspective, deliberate, hurried, action-packed, dense, plain, evocative, poetic, elegant, or jumbled.
All of them are very Zelazny.
There are some common themes that arose in the stories, yet as they approached from different angles, it was always interesting without being repetitive:
- The hunt, the climb, the obsessive drive of those driven in pursuit of their goal or profession.
- Cryogenic suspension, old sleep, the suspension of time, and its effects upon the psyche.
- Chronic disease, adjustment to a chronic wasting, and living with the hope of a cure.
In any case, I will list the short stories’ titles, and provide a brief impression.
The Doors of his Face, the Lamps of his Mouth: A suspenseful story about sportsmen hunting the one leviathan to evade their hunt and the terrors of the deep.
Keys to December: A foreboding tale of terraforming spanning thousands of years, the evolution of life, and a single lifespan.
Devil Car: A revenge tale of a man and his battle car, roaming the wasteland between Fuel Stop/Rest Stop Fortresses, seeking out the autonomous Devil Car that killed his brother.
A Rose for Ecclesiastes: A cultural first contact story following a damn conceited rhymer and how human culture transforms Martian Civilization, and how Martian beauty transforms him.
The Monster and the Maiden: A clever inversion.
Collector’s Fever: An object demonstration of the dangers of stupidity, rudeness, and deebling.
This Mortal Mountain: A mysterious tale of a legendary mountain climber, his team, and ethereal impressions as they scale the Grey Sister, a forty kilometer tall mountain whose peak is wreathed in space.
This Moment of the Storm: A long-sleeping starship passenger working as a weather tech / deputy on a sparsely settled frontier planet weathers the biggest storm ever to strike Beta Station.
The Great Slow Kings: An illuminating demonstration of the impact of the speed of metabolism.
A Museum Piece: A ridiculous and hilarious satire of artists, art, museums, and art critics.
Divine Madness: A strange, sobering tale exploring actions, reactions, consequences, and grief, and an unbelievable chance.
Corrida: I’m… honestly unsure.
Love is an Imaginary Number: A reality-jumping struggle between chaos and order.
The Man Who Loved the Faioli: A strange tale of the women of the Faioli, and the one man who lived despite their love.
Lucifer: A poignant tale of a lonely survivor struggling in the desolation of an abandoned metropolis.
The Furies: A policeman enlists the service of two savants to hunt down a rogue patrolman, leading to some exciting action, intriguing twists, and a flavoring of mythos.
The Graveyard Heart: The story of a man driven to cryogenic high society by pursuit of a woman, and the consequences of their lifestyle.
My favorite stories were This Moment of the Storm (felt like a real tale of struggle) and A Museum Piece (ridiculous to the point of utter absurdity, and hilarious as a result).
COVER ART REVIEW: While my Kindle edition had no cover art, I have provided a facsimile of the original dust jacket title. I like it, but am honestly somewhat befuddled thereby.