Roadmarks by Roger Zelazny

roadmarks(2)Roger Zelazny wrote 33 novels before his death at the age of 58.  He was one of those old-school science fiction authors, the kind who really cranked out the work, on his own and in partnership with other writers.  But while he can rightly be considered a pulp author, he was also darn good.  Maybe not Bill Faulkner good, but he had a professional, well-written, prose style that was much better than what you’d expect to find in a book with a pickup truck and a dragon on the cover.

But isn’t that a great cover?   A desert landscape, an old pickup truck, and a dragon!!!  The road sign reads “Last exit to Babylon.”   I’m so there.

Roadmarks is about Red Dorakeen who has been traveling the Road for as long as he can remember. The Road runs not between places but between times.  Travel it long enough and you can reach the very beginning or the very end  of history.  It’s branches are constantly shifting, from one possible future to another, between potential pasts.  All along the road are stops, on-ramps, motels, travelers famous, infamous, and unknown.

“Who runs these rest stops and gas stations, anyhow?”

“They are a strange breed. Exiles, refugees—people who can’t go home or who can’t or won’t adapt to a new land.  Lost souls–people who can’t find their way home and are afraid to leave the Road.  Jaded travelers–people who’ve been everywhere and now prefer a timeless, placeless place like this.”

He chuckled.

“Is Ambrose Bierce writing a book near here?”

“As a matter of fact–“

As much as I enjoy Mr. Zelazny’s books, as much as I wanted to love Roadmarks, to be honest it’s just okay.  It was fun reading, but I really felt the setting had much more potential.  In Roadmarks Mr. Zelazny delivers a professional, journeyman effort, but I was hoping for something epic.  I mean, how cool is that cover?

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4 Comments

  1. Sounds like a great premise, shame you didn’t enjoy it more. And yes, that cover is epic!!

  2. Jeanne says:

    I have that paperback! Since I started with 9 Princes in Amber, everything else he wrote seemed less good.
    The whole machine that runs the world idea, though–we’re seeing that more often in SFF movies and tv shows. It’s like they read their Zelazny as kids and it took.

  3. I bet if any of his work survives into the next generation of readers it will be the Amber books. I started with Damnation Alley and loved it!!

  4. Rob says:

    I’ve been meaning to get to Roger Zelazny. I still haven’t read anything by him. I recently acquired Changeling, Jack of Shadows, and My Name is Legion, so I’ll be started with one of these I think.

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