Roger Zelazny is one of the giants of the science-fiction and fantasy genres. He’d land a spot in my personal top-10 on the strength of Lord of Light alone. Throw in The Chronicles of Amber and This Immortal and he’s an absolute lock for my “favorites” list.
Still, Zelazny is one of those giants of the field that is in real danger of going undiscovered by younger generations of fans. Despite being a six-time Hugo Award winner and a three-time Nebula winner (This Immortal tied with Frank Herbert’s epic Dune for Best Novel in the 1966 voting), not a single one of his books was available in e-book format until 2014, and even now, much of his catalog remains out of print. Even Lord of Light is not available as an e-book.
Roadmarks, a short novel from 1979, is one of those books that
requires a trip to Half-Price Books or a tour through Amazon’s used book vendors to find. It is out of print and not likely to see the light of day anytime soon, given the travails of Zelazny’s literary estate.
In Roadmarks, Red Dorakeen and a variety of odd characters travel up and down a mysterious highway that can take one to the past or the future, even alternate timestreams. Of course, it requires a special talent to even find the highway, but those who do can wield enormous power. As in many of Zelazny’s books, the characters may or may not be gods or god-like beings and you never quite know until the end. It’s a fast, fun read, but one that forces you to pay attention, as Zelazny not only jumps frequently from character to character, but also to different time periods for each of those characters. That’s difficult for any writer to pull off but Zelazny makes it look easy.
Roger Zelazny died young, at only 58 years old, in 1995. If he had lived a normal lifespan he would no doubt have produced at least a dozen more great novels, and his legacy would no doubt be on more solid ground. As it is, he left too soon and his literary estate has not advanced with the times. Take the time to search the “Z” section at your local used bookstore; Zelazny’s novels are too good to be forgotten.