Classic Covers: Roger Zelazny

Roger Zelazny’s explosion onto the speculative fiction scene was practically the horn blast announcing the coming of science fiction’s New Wave, at least in the United States. This fresh injection of modern literary techniques and counter-culture sensibilities into the genre of robots and rocket ships sparked a fertile period of experimentation that saw the genre develop a keen interest in the interior world of the human mind, inverting the frontiers of exploration from the distant and impersonal far corners of space, to the inner life of the individual.

Zelazny combined headlong pulp pacing with literary experimentation and a fine ear for language — as well as an almost mischievous love for the juxtapositions of myth and modernity. While he played with structure and technique in his stories, and freely combined tropes from multiple genres (as in many of his greatest works, such as the Amber Series, Lord of Light, and Jack of Shadows), Zelanzy’s racetrack mind was one of wildly creative invention, nothing like the de(con)structionist mindset of many of those embracing the New Wave as an opportunity to undermine what had come before. Zelazny, a natural storyteller of tremendous imagination, strengthened the foundations of fantasy and science fiction even while exuberantly constructing his own inimitable edifice upon its stones.

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