Transforming landscapes and battling twins in Roger Zelazny

I decided to start 2015 by rereading the Roger Zelazny books I own. (Here’s why). Wikipedia can tell you about some of Zelazny’s characteristic themes: immortals, riffs on real-world mythologies, and the ‘absent father.’  Thanks to immersing myself in rereading, I noticed a couple of recurring themes I haven’t seen reported anywhere else. (Not even Josh W’s Roger Zelazny Drinking Game page).

1. Transforming landscapes

Shadowshifting in The Chronicles of Amber, where the Amberite royals can move from world to world by thinking up changes in the environment around them, is probably the first one that comes to mind.

But there are many more:
Finding the time travel highway in

The Hot Place in

The destruction of the titular location in Isle of the Dead

The destruction of the titular location in Dilvish sword&sorcery story The Tower of Ice (in )

The Dilvish novel The Changing Land

It’s a bit of stretch, but the landscape subjectively shifts around the traveller in the teleportation network in Eye of Cat

The transforming inner spaces of

The island to be created in The Eve of RUMOKO (in )

The Manhattan volcano in

2. Battling twins
Two (or more) feuding or battling brothers, twins, etc. (FWIW, this motif emerged from the subconscious of an only child)

This motif appears twice in the first five books of the Chronicles of Amber: Corwin vs. Eric (not much of a spoiler) and Corwin vs. [REDACTED, SPOILER]

The Game of Blood and Dust (in )

The duelling sorcerers in the Dilvish story A City Divided (in )

Osiris and Anubis in

One more in Creatures of Light & Darkness, very minor and played for dark humor: the feuding scriers

Why reread Zelazny?

  • He was my favorite writer when I was a senior in high school/freshman in college.
  • One of my few regrets in life is not rescheduling a freshman calc exam to go to an author reception featuring him.
  • His late ’60s work ethic, when he wrote multiple Hugo-winning novels and short stories while working a 40 hour week for the US government, is a work ethic to emulate.
  • His combination of literary sophistication and masculinity of theme and manner is a lodestar for me in my own work.

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1 thought on “Transforming landscapes and battling twins in Roger Zelazny”

  1. Regarding This Immortal, I forgot to mention the destruction by earthquake of Conrad's home island.

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