Wednesday, February 1, 2012

10 sequels to Zelazny works that I'd want to read (and one that I wouldn't)

Writing about Elegy the other day got me thinking. I was originally going to include a top ten list of works more in need of a sequel than The Graveyard Heart, but then I reconsidered, as the post was already snarky enough and I try not to be too negative with my posts if I can help it. However, I do think it's a conversation worth having, even though we're never going to see these books.

With that said, here is my subjective, intuitive, and biased list, in ascending order.

10.) Isle of the Dead/To Die in Italbar: I guess we got a quasi-sequel with Dismal Light, but it's so short that it barely seems to count.  I think some people would argue that Italbar doesn't count either, but I've always rather liked it. I still think that Sandow has more stories in him.

9.) Doorways in the Sand: Not a sequel about Fred, because his story is mostly complete, but maybe he can have a cameo in the police procedural starring Charv and Ragma!

8.) Dilvish: I recall that Zelazny had expressed some interest in continuing Dilvish beyond the events in the Changing Land, because it would be interesting to explore what a monomaniac does once the source of his obsession is taken. Dilvish is already thinking ahead, and when Arlata asks him what he's going to do when he's finished his quest, he answers, not "I'm going to Disneyland!" but that he wishes to reclaim his ancestral homelands.  I think the interesting part will be watching him adapt to a life without Jelerak, rather than what he intends to do with that life.

7.) Night Kings: This might come as a bit of a surprise, because I said I could give or take the story, but I'd like the see what such a shop was like in period of non crisis. Zelazny wrote in the introduction to one collection (I want to say it's The Last Defender of Camelot, but I can't check because someone is borrowing my copy. Corwin was right when he said "Only your friends steal your books") that if he couldn't write worth a damn, his second choice for a career would be running a hardware store. I suppose I've always carried that association with me and I think it would be really interesting to have a Zelaznian take on the mundane aspects of such a place.

6.) Kalifriki: Kalifriki was the final recurring character Zelazny created before the end of his life and he almost certainly would have written more Kalifriki stories had he the time. Kalifriki had ample room to expand in whatever ways the stories took him.

5.) Lord of Light: As with Fred, Sam's story has been told, but so many others haven't.  There's enough to fuel an anthology here.  Stories of the First, of the Binding of the Rakasha, the battles of the Mothers of the Glow, the journeys of Krishna away from Heaven, the legendary thefts by Helba, of  the great blue-feather cloak which belonged to Srit, Chief among the Kataputna demons, or the shape-changing jewel he took from the very Dome of the Glow, climbing with suction discs upon his wrists and knees and toes, with the Mothers beneath him...

4.) Amber I'm pretty open with my disappointment for the Merlin books. I do get the impression that whatever passion he'd had for the series had petered out by the time he was wrapping up the Merlin books and he just wanted to finish it. However, the short stories have a passion and a purpose, and it felt like they were building towards something again.

3.) My Name is Legion: Zelazny himself left open the possibility of writing more Nemo stories if the spirit moved him. They were written in the 70s, and there were so many advances in technology since then that Zelazny could have done some truly stunning things. On the other hand, I still think that Hangman is one of the very best things he's written in a very long and distinguished career and  if the series had to end so soon, I'm pleased that it ended on a high note.

2.) Roadmarks:
I love everyone in this book. Man, there are so many ways to go with this. Red's early adventures with Leila? With Chadwick? The further adventures of Mondamy and Flowers? Timyin Tin? Toba and Sundoc? Archie? Mix and match with characters from the story, or go in a different direction and assemble another crew of superpowered weirdos for a new Black Decade against a completely new character. The possibilities are as endless as the Road.

1.) A Night in the Lonesome October: I think this is another concept ripe for an anthology. (Specifically, I'd love to see the folks who contributed to Lord of the Fantastic each pen a story about the Game.) According to this page from NASA, four years in the 20th Century had full moons on Halloween,  1925, 1944, 1955, 1974. Not much was going on in 1925, but a Great Game set during World War II? That would be incredible!  (And the one in the 50s would have to have the Universal studios monsters and Norman Bates) If we went the novel route, I'd love to see flashbacks or allusions to earlier Games and how they tie into the current one.

And the sequel that I wouldn't want to read? Jack of Shadows. I love it, but it's complete and a sequel would undermine that wonderful ending. With that said, I wouldn't mind reading Shadowland, the prequel that Zelazny outlined (and which is collected in the Road to Amber, the sixth volume of the Collected Stories) that tells how Jack's world came to be as it was.

So,  that's my list. What about you guys?


  1. The only thing I strongly disagree with on that list is Lord of Light. And I say that mostly because I consider the book to be pretty much perfection--meaning, if you added anything to it, it couldn't possibly make things BETTER. A sequel might be of equal quality (MIGHT!), but there's also a chance it would be WORSE.

    Basically, after a number of bad movie sequels and prequels (Star Wars, I'm looking at YOU), I'm really reluctant to have anything added to a story that's already perfect. I say, don't mess with Lord of Light--no good could come of it! (Even IF Zelazny himself were to write the sequel/prequel/whatever, I'm not sure he could top his greatest work here.)

    In fact, that's probably my stance on most Zelazny stories: I like 'em so much that I'd rather not see them messed with. The possible exceptions would be Amber (for the same reasons you stated--it looked like Zelazny already had something in store, and it looked to be good), and the Night in the Lonesome October anthology by guest writers--that seems like an awesome idea!

    I guess I'd also like to read a few more Croyd Crenson stories, now that I think about it. I liked all the ones in the Collected Stories, and although I know other writers in the Wild Card series have supposedly used Croyd, I can't imagine them using him as well as Zelazny did. So, I'd like to see more Zelazny-penned Sleeper tales.

    Aside from that, I'm just holding out for a sequel to Unicorn Variation where they play Twister instead of chess, and something called "24 Views of The Girls' Locker Room, by Hokusai."

    1. Your concerns about a Lord of Light sequel makes me think of the Amber prequels. I was cautiously optimistic about them. I didn't think they'd be Zelazny caliber, but I thought they would at least channel his general style and give us something reminiscent of the Chronicles.

      Oh, how wrong I was.

  2. Yeah, I've never even given the Amber prequels a shot, nor do I intend to. Especially since Neil Gaiman said that Zelazny once told him that he did NOT want anyone else writing in the Amber universe.

    If it's against Zelazny's wishes, then as far as I'm concerned, it doesn't even EXIST!

    1. I got it as a gift, and I know, that's an excuse on the level of saying "I read it for the articles", but in defense of the person who got it for me, Zelazny's name is prominently (and misleadingly) featured on the cover and I doubt he was the only person suckered like that.