|"More like eight princes and Peter Lorre in Amber, amirite?"|
The Context: The opening line to Nine Princes in Amber
Why I like it: When I originally came up with the idea for Zelazny Quote Month, I thought I would alternate between quotes from the books, and quotes by or about Zelazny. I never did the latter, because the quotes about him are the usual cover blurbs that anyone reading a Zelazny blog has read a thousand times and I couldn't find any quotes by him that really clicked with me, and I'd rather leave out those entirely than have a lopsided sample of one real world Zelazny quote and twenty-nine book quotes.
If I did use just one quote about him, it would be this:
Zelazny likes to develop different systems of magic, but his emphasis is on systems. He feels the magic should be worked out and contain no contradictions. It should run more like science and not be too supernatural in which anything goes. That route leads to magic being a crutch to move the plot along. He also likes to use the mystery plot. He feels that there is an elegance to having a puzzle overlaid on a fantasy or SF novel. The mystery helps build the mythic elements in fantasy, but is also akin to the process of discovery in science.
That quote really nails what I enjoy about Zelazny's writing. My next door neighbor is great, and I'm happy to say I spread the good word of the Zelaznian Gospel to her. (Though it wasn't exactly a hard sell, as she was already a big fan of Neil Gaiman and George Martin.) I still do a little bit of writing and I gave her a work in progress. She said she enjoyed it, and the part that really worked for her was the unfolding mystery of the story. I was pleased that someone I respect would observe those parallels between my writing and Zelazny's, though I wasn't deliberately aping his style in this.
I don't know if I was influenced by him because I came across his works at a time when I was developing the tastes that would define my interests as an adult, or if I was always this way, and they had such resonance with me because the struck a chord with something that was already present. Either way, I do feel that element of unraveling mystery is a fundamental part of a good story, and Roger Zelazny did it better than almost anyone else.