Roger Zelazny and The Chronicles of Amber

This is my first post in a long time, and I apologize.

Amber-Nine Princes in AmberAmber-The Guns of AvalonAmber-Sign of the Unicorn

Amber-The Hand of OberonAmber-The Courts of Chaos

Okay, I wanted to talk about a subject and individual I care deeply about–The Chronicles of Amber by Roger Zelazny (May 13, 1937 – June 14, 1995.)  Usually the response I get from people–especially younger ones is: “Who?  What?”

This is rather depressing since I consider him one of the 20th century’s greatest masters of fantasy.  He has one of the most unique styles of anyone I know and came up with an entire genre of fantasy which had nothing to do with elves, dwarves, hobbits, etc., yet remains virtually unknown outside of fandom.  The closest he’s come to real fame was a horrible movie adaptation of his 1967 novella, Damnation Alley which he later expanded into a novel for the movie.  There was also the attempted adaptation of his novel Lord of Light which was never produced due to legal problems, but elements of the film, including concept drawings by Jack Kirby were later used by the CIA in an operation to smuggle people out of Iran during the Iranian Hostage Crisis in 1979.  The fake movie was renamed Argo and a film concerning the events was filmed in 2012.

Other than those undistinguished blips, he’s virtually unknown outside of fandom.  This is a crime, since the man was brilliant.  Foremost among his achievements is the creation of the Amber series of novels.  This is a fantasy series which is breathtaking in scope and yet a personal squabble between family members.  It starts out fairly straightforward and then spirals off in directions which you never would have guessed.

What I usually say to people when I try to describe it is: “It’s a family of Machiavellian demigods fighting a war for the seat of creation–and that’s just the first book.  After that, things get really interesting.”

I consider my writing most strongly influenced by Zelazny and if I could be half the writer he was, I would consider my life complete.

What made me bring this up and make a blog post about it was the news that apparently, after many, many decades, it appears that The Chronicles of Amber is going to make its presence felt on television.  I am both delighted and horrified by the prospect.  Delighted, in that maybe there will be a chance for this man to received the accolades he’s due, yet horrified that they’ll screw it up.  I am glad to see Robert Kirkman of Walking Dead fame producing, so that fills me with some optimism.  I know George R.R. Martin considers Game of Thrones inspired by Amber.

But don’t wait for an Amber series.  Go out and read them yourself.  There are ten of them in two story arcs.  The first five are generally considered superior, but I thoroughly enjoyed all of them.

One thought on “Roger Zelazny and The Chronicles of Amber

  1. I agree that there is hope. But also good reason for fear anytime a media outlet gets control of a book, let alone a series like Amber.

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