The Online Encyclopedia and Dictionary






Roger Zelazny

Roger Joseph Zelazny (May 13, 1937 - June 14, 1995) was a United States writer of fantasy and science fiction short stories and novels. He won the Nebula award three times and the Hugo award six times, including twice for novels: Lord of Light (1968) and ...And Call Me Conrad (1966) (which was later published as This Immortal).

Zelazny was born in Euclid, Ohio, an only child of Josephine Sweet and Joseph Frank Zelazny (Żelazny). His father had emigrated from Poland when he was a young man and met Josephine Sweet in Chicago. In high school, Roger Zelazny was the editor of the school newspaper and joined the Creative Writing Club. In the fall of 1955, he began attending Western Reserve University and graduated with a B.A. in English in 1959. He was accepted to Columbia University in New York and specialized in Elizabethan and Jacobean drama, graduating with a M.A. in 1962.

Zelazny had a rare gift for conceiving and portraying worlds with plausible magic systems, powers, and supernatural beings. His captivating descriptions of the nuts and bolts of magical workings in his imagined worlds set his fantasy writing apart from otherwise similar authors. His science fiction was highly influenced by mythology, poetry, including the French, British, and American classics of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, and by wisecracking detective fiction. A frequent theme is gods or people who become gods. His novels and short stories often involved characters from classical myth, depicted in the modern world.

He was a prolific writer and, with the exception of the Amber novels (and the related pairs Changeling /Madwand , Isle of the Dead/To Die in Italbar , and Dilvish the Damned/The Changing Land ), created a completely new setting for each book.


Amber novels

While his earlier works won greater critical acclaim, Zelazny is probably best known for the Amber novels. These fall into two distinct series; the second series is widely perceived as being of markedly lesser quality than the first.

The first five books describe the adventures of Prince Corwin of Amber and comprise:

The second series tells the story of Corwin's son Merlin (Merle) - a wizard and a computer expert. These volumes are:

An interactive fiction computer game based on Nine Princes in Amber was released by Telarium in 1987. The Amber novels also inspired a role-playing game, Amber Diceless Roleplaying, published by Phage Press . The game is distinctive in that it suggests that players ignore or alter any rule as they see fit.

Other significant books

  • The Millennium Contest series (with Robert Sheckley):
    • Bring Me the Head of Prince Charming (1991)
    • If At Faust You Don't Succeed (1993)
    • A Farce to Be Reckoned With (1995)

  • Flare (1992) (with Thomas Timoux Thomas )

Eye of Cat was arguably the last of his best work, though A Night in the Lonesome October has many admirers. Later collaborative works appear to be primarily the work of the other author. Two books were published as collaborations with Jane Lindskold after Zelazny's death:

  • Donnerjack (1997)
  • Lord Demon (1999)


Zelazny was also a contributor to the Wild Cards shared world anthology series, following the exploits of his character Croyd Crenson, the Sleeper.

  • Following Zelazny's death, a tribute anthology entitled Lord of the Fantastic was released, which featured stories inspired by Zelazny, many of them sequels to his works.

External links

Last updated: 05-07-2005 13:09:40
Last updated: 05-13-2005 07:56:04