Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Roger Zelazny Book Review: Lord of the Fantastic, Part Three

This is the third part of my review of the the Roger Zelazny tribute, Lord of the Fantastic. Part One is here and Part Two is here.

"The Flying Dutchman" by John Varley

The Flying Dutchman
is the tale of Peter Meers, an air traveler having trouble getting back home. It's an unnerving creeper of a story that made me think of Clive Barker. I liked it, but I have to wonder what it's doing in this collection. It's well-crafted, (For instance, I liked lines like "The 727 hit the tarmac like a fat lady on skates")  but it doesn't have anything to do with Roger Zelazny. Yes, Zelazny once wrote a take on the Flying Dutchman in And Only I Escaped to Tell Thee, but it's not like it's any kind of signature story for him.

 Also there was no author afterward, which was a bit disappointing.

"Ninekiller and the Neterw" by William Sanders

Neterw? It looks like those word scrambles on the menu the local deli faxes to our office every morning.

Rent We
Tern We
Newt Re
Went Re

It's pretty well put together.  It opens with some cliches, magical Indian who hears his grandfather's voice warning him of danger. The author's afterword was great, and very intriguing.

"Call Me Titan" by Robert Silverberg

I loved this one!  This is another one that features Roger Zelazny as a character. A Titan assumes his form and has sex with Aphrodite. When I go, I want my friends to eulogize me in such a fashion.

"How did you get loose?" the woman who was Aphrodite asked me.

"It happened. Here I am."

"Yes," she said, "You of all of them. In this lovely place. She waved at the shining, sun-bright sea, the glittering white stripe of the beach, the whitewashed houses, the bare brown hills. A lovely place, yes, this Isle of Mykones, "And what are you going to do now?"

"What I was created to do," I told her, "You know."

She considered that. We were drinking ouzo on the rocks, on the hotel patios, beneath a hanging array of fisherman's nets. After a moment, she laughed, that irresistible tinkling laugh of hers, and clinked her glass against mine.

"Lots of luck," she said.

It's really great. This could easily have been a story Zelazny himself wrote. Silverberg does a great job of emulating Zelazny's voice, and the concept of modern myths is a quintessentially Zelazny theme. I think this one is my favorite of the lot, and in a collection with stories by Michael Stackpole and Neil Gaiman, that's no mean feet.

"The Outling" by Andre Norton

I usually like Andre Norton, but this story didn't work for me. I think the fantastic elements were at odds with the rest of the stories in the collection.

"Arroyo de Oro" by Pati Nagle

Well, I haven't made an arroyo joke for a while. I really enjoyed this one. A rookie FBI agent investigates a murder on an Indian reservation in the near future. It's a pretty straightforward murder mystery, but the narrator is engaging and the story moves at a brisk pace.

"Back in 'the Real World'" by Bradley H. Sinor

Hey, kids! Another magical Indian story!

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