Garner Johnson
               PUP Issues 1 and 14

Original is


 Roger  Zelazny  is  a  well  established  author  who has been
writing since the early sixties. He has  won  numerous  awards,
including  the Hugo and the Nebula. His important works include
"Lord of Light," "Creatures of Light and Darkness,"  the  Amber
series  (old  and new), "Roadmarks," and most recently "A Night
in  Lonesome  October."  He  also   has   three   short   story
collections.  In addition to his writing, he also does readings
of his books for cassette. So far he  has  done  seven  of  the
Amber books, and the eighth is in the works.

 Both   Zelazny's   reading  and  education  had  an  important
influence on his writing. He began reading SF when he  was  11,
tried  writing early on, but had little time to truly pursue it
seriously.  Several  early  authors   influenced   him.   Henry
Kuttner's   works  showed  him  that  it  was  possible  to  be
versatile.  Zelazny  also  read  everything  from  fantasy   to
hard-boiled  detective  stories as well as Heinlein's juveniles
and Bradbury's  work;  all  this  gave  him  a  broad  view  of
different  styles and genres. Stanley Weinbaum's stories showed
him that it was possible to be innovative and  experimental  in
writing,  and  this  is  something  Zelazny  believes  is  very
important. He also thinks that once you set your style, you are
less likely to be influenced by other authors. Despite that, he
still reads galleys to keep up and be current with  the  field.
He  also  reads  a  bewildering variety of non-fiction, usually
about 16 books at once. At least  one  is  history  because  he
feels  that  to write about the future of society you must know
what happened to it in the past. Others include  science,  life
sciences,   biographies,  poetry  collections,  and  mainstream
books. Since he reads a bit of each at once he  gets  a  better
synthesis, a view of things that adds depth to his writing.

 Although  Zelazny  worked  for  the federal government writing
claims manuals and technical bureaucratic stuff for the  social
security  services  for  seven  years,  it did not diminish his
ability to write lyrically. His time spent getting  a  Master's
in   English   and  Comparative  Literature  with  a  focus  on
Elizabethan Theater had a greater influence on his writing  and
ability to use different styles. He also wrote poetry before he
began to write SF seriously, which added to the  smoothness  of
his writing.

 His early works were influenced by two things. The first was a
fascination with revenge stories and the  revenge  motif.  This
can  be  seen  in  "Isle  of the Dead," "Creatures of Light and
Darkness" and "Lord of Light." He also grew up with an interest
in  myths,  legends  and  folklore.  He  continued reading such
writers  as  Joseph  Campbell  and  William   Frazier,   mixing
mythology  with  anthropology  and psychology. The synthesis of
these three fields allows  him  to  easily  create  systems  of
mythology.  It also helps give his stories resonance, scope and
an epic feel. All this can also be seen in his early works.  He
deliberately  exploited  his  strength  with  East  Indian  and
Egyptian mythology after he graduated in order to gain time  to
fill  in  areas  on  which  he  was weaker. Mythic stories were
easier then and allowed him  to  gather  expertise  with  other
material that could be used later.

 Characters are the starting point of all of Zelazny's stories.
He creates them and they then drive the  plot  and  background.
Some critics have said that Zelazny has one type or very common
character. The laid-back, easy-going, wise-cracking,  homicidal
protagonist. Although many of these elements are present in his
characters there is no one set type. His early work with poetry
has  led  to  a  number  of  poet characters, or at least those
interested in poetry. He does like to  deal  with  independent,
physically-superior  and  well-read  characters  that  have  an
unnaturally-long lifespan. The first two allow him to  look  at
power  and  its  influence on people, a common theme to many of
his books. Usually he believes that power is neutral, and it is
what  people  do with it that is important. The longer lifespan
he allows his characters to be widely read. It also gives  rise
to greater development and room to explore. He believes that if
a person did live long and was constantly reading and  learning
then they would naturally become superior.

 Zelazny  likes  to  experiment  with  viewpoints,  styles  and
narration. He feels it is too easy to  play  it  safe  and  get
smug,  which  results  in all of an author's books sounding the
same. To this end, he  is  now  doing  female  characters  more
often,  while  before  he had stuck with male roles.  Non-human
characters figure prominently; he enjoys doing them, but  tries
to  use  them  differently  in  each work. He also doesn't like
genre definitions,  so  he  writes  both  fantasy  and  science
fiction.  To throw a twist on things, he uses science to define
fantasy more rigorously  and  fantasy  in  science  fiction  to
loosen  things up. He writes a series of sequels only if he has
a specific idea  for  the  characters.  They  are  not  just  a
continuations  but  add  something  to the characters. All this
experimenting means his writing can still be fresh, even  after
being in the business twenty-plus years.

 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. One thing he
does not make much use of is his aikido training. He  feels  it
makes you choreograph fights too much. He also fenced for three
years and does use that for his fencing scenes,  especially  in
the Amber series.

 Comparing  his early work to his more recent material, Zelazny
says that his characters are more  fully  realized,  his  prose
cleaner  and  his  experiments  work  out  more  often.  He has
collaborated  with  5  different  authors  (Saberhagen,   Dick,
Thomas,  Hausman & Sherrod) and feels that these create a third
voice, a work  that  neither  author  could  have  done  alone.
Currently  he  prefers  shorter  works,  with  the novelette or
novella being the ideal length. He  reasons  that  this  format
leaves  enough  room for character development, but is not full
of padding. Too often now  there  is  an  emphasis  on  pushing
stories into a full novel when they shouldn't be. The two works
that he likes best, or best reflect his writing, are  "Lord  of
Light" and "For a Breath I Tarry."

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