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Roger Zelazny – Frost & Fire

Title: Frost & Fire
Author: Roger Zelazny
Narrator: Jack Fox
Year: 1989

This collection of short stories by Roger Zelazny confirms what I have said about him previously, namely that I enjoy his style and his language usage, but not necessarily the setting or the story (bar Lord of Light, which is in all aspects purely brilliant). The book consists of eleven short stories and two essays, spread over roughly 300 pages. I will not go into detail, commenting on each separate story, but I will make some general remarks and say something about some of the stories.

To start with, Roger Zelazny was a very skilled author. For some reason, I had not realised this is the seventh book I read by him, perchance it is because I have not read any of his short stories before reading these. Anyway, he is adept at introducing characters, settings and plots, and at some instances, I feel explicit awe, and note that the passage in question was absolutely marvellous.

Some of the stories are also beautiful in themselves, the two Hugo winners the most prominent examples (Permafrost and 24 Views of Mt. Fuji, by Hokusai), but Manna from Heaven also possesses this quality. In them, Zelazny’s style joins forces with the mysterious and miraculous stories, and together they are simply beautiful.

However, if all of the stories were like these, I would raise the grade without much hesitation, but as can be deduced by the structure of this sentence, this is not the case. Most of them are expertly written, but either the plot or the story (or in the worst cases, both) fails to catch me.

The essays are interesting indeed, especially if one is interested in writing science-fiction or fantasy (which incidentally, I happen do be). The first one, Constructing a Science Fiction Novel, is concerned with the difference between writing in Zelazny’s genre and in most others. The second is somewhat less interesting and deals with the future of the two genres (as seen from late 1980s, remember).

Conclusively, with this book Zelazny establish himself as an author who has the capacity to be absolutely wonderful. At times his stories are intriguing, at others his characters are great and at yet others, the setting is fantastic. However, language-wise he is always worth reading, so I will not hesitate to read more of Zelazny, especially not short stories or essays.

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