Thursday, October 29, 2009

Rerun: Lord of Light

"His followers called him Mahatmasaman and said he was a god. He preferred to drop the mahatma and the aman and just be called Sam. He never claimed to be a god. But then again, he never claimed not to be a god. Circumstances being what they were, neither admission could be of any benefit. Silence, though, could.

"Therefore, there was mystery about him."

- Opening papargraphs from Lord of Light

Its always tough to review a master and not sound like you're just one of the multitude that love his work. Guilty! That's me - I love Zelazny. I've never read a bad book or short story that he wrote. But even he had works that stood out from the bulk of his writing. Lord of Light is one of those works. It won the Hugo in 1968 (when even I was just a pup) and has stood the test of time as a classic. Its every bit as cogent and timely now as it was back then - heck, maybe more so.

Immortality has been granted to the elite, by - well - the elite. They also have unimaginable technologies at their command. And so they rule their new world as gods. With all their human frailties, egos and insecurities still intact. Not a good thing for those not of the inner least as far as Sam is concerned. But what's one guy supposed to do? Raise demons and attack heaven? Well, if that's what it takes...

This book is an incredible mixture of mythology, science, politics and foibles. As always, Zelazny captures the best and the worst of the human condition in characters that are, at the same time, both larger than life and easy to identify with. This one makes my top 25, and is only just barely out of my top 10. But them again, This Immortal is in my top 10. Nobody writes like Zelazny. Thank God! I couldn't afford the darned books if there was another one!

The Devil's Eye by Jack McDevitt

I literally just put this one down.

I must admit that in the beginning I was somewhat bored with the book. Just another Alex Benedict novel of galactic treasure hunting with a twist ending and smug smiles from our hero.

Wrong! This one turns into a nail-biter and Alex isn't the hero. Chase Kolpath, trusty pilot and sidekick manages to steal the show and save the world (literally) from its own short-sightedness as well as a small matter of an imprnding gamma ray bombardment that will only last 3 days. Now if only the Confederacy and the Mutes can get along after only a couple of centuries of hostilities, maybe somebody can do something. But who and what? The answer is formulaic and profound, its almost Zen in its causal/reactionary unfolding.

This is the best McDevitt I've read since The Hercules Text and it is much more approachable emotionally than that great work. This is a great read...and after I panned Cauldron. My faith is restored and my cup runneth over. I give it 4-1/2 stars. Which ain't perfect, but as close as you can get without actually being there. Read this one.

Catching Up

Its been awhile since I've posted anything and even longer since I've posted anything worthwhile. So, while I haven't been blogging, I have been reading. A lot. And I will be posting comments on what I've read over the next few days. Sorry it took so long, but I did warn you.

So between now and Thanksgiving, I'm gonna post reviews on all the books I've read while NOT blogging. And I'm gonna re-run a couple of my older reviews that never made it to my blog before. I may even polish 'em up a bit for new company (but probably not). Hope that keeps your juices flowing for awhile and gives you some ideas on what to read (and maybe what not to read).