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Remembering Roger

On June 14, 1995 Roger Zelazny died at St. Vincent's Hospital here in Santa Fe. Though it seems very hard to believe -- for his voice and his presence are still very much with those who knew and loved him, and his words will live forever -- this June will mark the twentieth anniversary of Roger's passing.

At the memorial service shortly after his death, I spoke a few words about Roger and his work, and what he meant to me and to SF and the wider world of literature. You can read them here:


Twenty years is a long time, but Roger and his work are still remembered. With the dark day of that anniversary approaching, we thought the time was right to share some of our memories of this amazing man and his incredible stories. It did not feel right to do it on June 14, however; we want to celebrate his life and his work, not his death. So we chose May 31 instead.

On Sunday night, May 31, the Jean Cocteau Cinema in Santa Fe will offer a special one-time only night of readings and reminiscences we're calling "Remembering Roger."

Roger's son Trent, a fine writer in his own right, is organizing the event for us, and other members of Roger's family are also expected to attend, along with lots of us from the New Mexico science fiction community and Albuquerque fandom. I will be there, as will Jane Lindskold, Melinda Snodgrass, Walter Jon Williams, John Jos. Miller, and many many more. We have lots of folks coming in from out of town as well. Neil Gaiman is trying to make it, if his schedule allows. Joe Haldeman is flying in. So is Michael Cassutt. And many folks who cannot come to New Mexico in person will be Skyping in to join us, or sending video greetings and readings. Joe Lansdale, Steven Brust, Howard Waldrop, and others will be heard from.

We won't be showing DAMNATION ALLEY, no... but we may screen the trailer, just for hoots and giggles. We will have other films and videos, though. A slide show, maybe... so if you have some good pictures of Roger, send jpegs to me or Trent. Artwork too. Most of the evening will be taken up with readings from Roger's work: his poems, his stories, favorite passages from his books. We expect there will be tears; we hope there will be laughter too. And Roger's own voice will be heard: he recorded the Amber audiobooks himself, and we hope to play some of that.

The evening's final offering will be a play. If you're read my memorial, above, you'll know that one of the last things Roger ever completed was a short musical play called GODSON. He read it aloud in my living room a few weeks before he died, but to my knowledge it has never been staged or performed. Until now.

GODSON will have its long LONG awaited premiere on the stage of the Jean Cocteau on May 31. Its the story of what happens when Death adopts a child, and it's pure Roger. We are in rehearsal now. Advance tickets for the evening will be on sale shortly; watch this space for announcements. All box office proceeds will be split with the Zelazny family and the actors and director who are bringing us GODSON. The Cocteau has only 130 seats, so if you want to be part of this, do not hesitate when tickets are made available. This is a one-time only event. (Though we would consider further performances of GODSON if the play is well received and there seems to be sufficient demand. Roger would like that, I am sure).

If you knew Roger, or even if you only knew his work, and you would like to help or be a part of this, please get in touch with Trent Z at trentzelazny@juno.com

We want to make this an evening worthy of one of greatest science fiction writers who ever lived.


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Apr. 18th, 2015 09:37 pm (UTC)
Previous Godson performances
The Cocteau performance will be the third one, to the best of my knowledge.

The Godson musical was first performed at Boskone in 2010, with music by David Grubbs to support the lyrics of the songs Roger had written. David played Morris/Death, and I had a cameo as Dr. Dan Puleo.

The second performance was at Worldcon (Renovation) in 2011 with the same cast.

Not sure if I'll be able to attend the event in Santa Fe but I will look into it.

Chris Kovacs

(editor of The Collected Stories of Roger Zelazny (NESFA Press), and author of the Zelazny biography "...And Call Me Roger" The Literary Life of Roger Zelazny.)
Apr. 18th, 2015 09:42 pm (UTC)
Re: Previous Godson performances
Wow. Fascinating.

I do find it curious that Trent and the Zelazny family seem to have no knowledge of these prior performances.

I hope the play was well received.

Our version will have different music, certainly. Roger had asked Bruce Dunlap to write the music, I am informed, but he never did, so Trent has brought in some local musicians. He had no knowledge of any existing music.
Re: Previous Godson performances - ckovacs - Apr. 18th, 2015 09:48 pm (UTC) - Expand
Re: Previous Godson performances - erinunderwood - Apr. 19th, 2015 10:24 am (UTC) - Expand
Re: Previous Godson performances - ckovacs - Apr. 19th, 2015 06:40 pm (UTC) - Expand
Re: Previous Godson performances - grrm - Apr. 19th, 2015 06:43 pm (UTC) - Expand
Re: Previous Godson performances - ckovacs - Apr. 19th, 2015 06:49 pm (UTC) - Expand
Re: Previous Godson performances - ckovacs - Apr. 19th, 2015 07:55 pm (UTC) - Expand
Re: Previous Godson performances - dggrubbs - Apr. 19th, 2015 01:55 am (UTC) - Expand
Re: Previous Godson performances - grrm - Apr. 19th, 2015 04:37 am (UTC) - Expand
Re: Previous Godson performances - dggrubbs - May. 6th, 2015 05:55 pm (UTC) - Expand
Re: Previous Godson performances - grrm - Apr. 19th, 2015 08:07 pm (UTC) - Expand
Apr. 18th, 2015 10:04 pm (UTC)
I had the pleasure of meeting him at a convention in Dallas in the 1980's. He was just sitting around and complimented me as I passed on the Tudor-era costume I was wearing. We ended up having a lovely conversation about history and clothing--I didn't even realize who he was until someone came to get him for a panel! A fantastic writer and all-around nice guy. I hope the event goes well!
Apr. 18th, 2015 10:33 pm (UTC)
That sounds like a lovely evening. Is there any chance that it will be recorded and made available at a later date for those of us not able to travel to NM?
Apr. 19th, 2015 10:22 pm (UTC)
(here via the Amber dRPG mailing list)

Seconding the question! I'm in Florida and can't swing a trip that far this soon, but I'd love to hear it.
Apr. 18th, 2015 10:35 pm (UTC)
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Apr. 18th, 2015 10:35 pm (UTC)
I wish I wasn't an ocean away. That sounds so wonderful!

Roger Zelazny was the writer who got me into Science Fiction. I wish I had gotten to know him in person.
Apr. 18th, 2015 10:58 pm (UTC)
I can't believe it's been 20 years. Seems like yesterday that I had to break the news to the players in my Amber RPG. It was just too soon for him to go. I'll always treasure the books he wrote, but I'll always miss the ones he never got to write.

I hope this event reminds more people about his work, too. Around here, seems like the younger readers have just never heard of Roger. I fear him being forgotten in another generation.
Apr. 18th, 2015 11:02 pm (UTC)
Daymn! I wish I could afford to go! This sounds like such a thing I'd love to attend. I've read Zelazny since the start of my SF reading at the end of the 70's...

It's so great you are organizing this, sir.
Apr. 19th, 2015 12:28 am (UTC)
I met him briefly at my first convention, back in the seventies, in Melbourne. He certainly seemed a nice man and was a fascinating speaker. I've mostly read his short fiction, including a collection which had some great articles about how the stories were created and writing ideas he got from Ernest Hemingway.

This Cocteau theatre sounds amazing! Lucky you, living near it.
Apr. 19th, 2015 12:56 am (UTC)

I wish that I could somehow get to Sante Fe for this. Roger Zelazny was an author who provided me with hours of wonderful reading, beginning in my teens in the early 1970's. He still does, in fact, since I just finished re-reading the Amber series for the 3rd or 4th time a few months ago.

In August of 1995, I attended my first ever GenCon. Roger Zelazny was to be the GoH and I was really looking forward to it. Sadly, he had passed just a few months earlier.
Apr. 19th, 2015 01:08 am (UTC)
I doubt I can make it out there, but I certain wish that I could and I hope the event goes swimmingly.

Roger was the reason I (and a few friends) attended our first con; Rivercon V (Louisville, KY) back in 1980. The clear highlight, at least for me, was when Roger closed his reading with a short story he had just finished: "Unicorn Variation" (including the unlikely story of how it came to be written). As fine as the version released later is, the reading he gave that day was simply amazing. With his voice characterizations and delivery of the story he had us falling out of our chairs. I wish the custom of recording readings had been around then; I would love to share that one with people.

Thank you for putting this on, George. I only got to meet him a few times, and still I miss him.
Bob Jenson
Apr. 19th, 2015 01:16 am (UTC)
Oh wow, I would love to attend this. Alas.
I have to confess, I have a soft spot in the ol' ticker for the film "Damnation Alley". No, it is not a good movie. But, my dad worked with a guy who owned the land in Borrego Springs where the Air Force base set was built, and I got to see it (after filming) before he tore it down. My first brush with Hollywood magic, and I could not wait for the movie to come out. To say I was bitterly disappointed with the film came out is a massive understatement (the only other film to let me down more was "Doc Savage" - broke my tender 13 year old heart...), but I suppose Zelazny was even more bummed about it than I was. Still, the anticipation of the movie introduced me to his writing and I love it for that reason, along with memories of a great day out in the desert.
While y'all are honoring Zelazny's life, I think I'll curl up and re-read "Lord of Light" - I can still remember the rush of reading that for the first time.
Apr. 19th, 2015 03:31 pm (UTC)
If I remember what Roger wrote of his thoughts on the movie accurately, yeah, he wasn't happy with what they did to the story. On the other hand, he used the money to add an office or studio (or something) to the house, and he rather liked that, so...
Apr. 19th, 2015 09:46 am (UTC)
Count me in with "wish I could" crowd. I met Roger at my second Con (WolfCon at Mississippi State U, Starkville, MS -- it must have been 1991), and he really was just the loveliest of gentlemen. I have such fond memories of him reading from one of his books (I don't even remember right now which book) & walking all over the furniture in the lounge he'd been given for the reading. :)

Hmm... I think it may be time for another re-read of his books soon.

Edit: Oops. I've just been told by the friend who was there with me that it was more likely fall of 1990 because her fiancé was in Iraq, but it wasn't yet officially "Desert Storm."

Edited at 2015-04-19 08:39 pm (UTC)
Apr. 19th, 2015 10:25 am (UTC)
Wonderful Idea!
George, this sounds like a fantastic project. Thank you so much for putting it together! I'll let Trent know that I am happy to help however I can. I never had the pleasure of meeting Roger, but he was very special to me.
Apr. 19th, 2015 04:04 pm (UTC)
Roger Zelazny
Reading this reminded me of something that happened "back in the day".

Parris had loaned me her copy of "Nine Princes in Amber", and "The Guns of Avalon" when I had finished the first. When I was done with both, I excitedly asked her for the next one. She replied (with a bit of a grin) that it had not been written yet.

I learned early on that a good book was worth waiting for.

I do hope you film "Godson" - and maybe sell the tapes, if the estate allows.
Loren Schmidt
Apr. 20th, 2015 11:09 pm (UTC)
Re: Roger Zelazny
Thanks for the reminder--I had forgotten waiting for "Amber" novels to arrive at my local bookstore, and then replacing my battered paperbacks with the SFBC two-volume hardback (which in turn became battered as it was "loved" by my children.

Reading Roger Zelazny and Ursula Le Guin persuaded the younger 1960's me that SF could indeed stand on its merits as literature, and to this day RZ's "A Rose for Ecclesiastes" and "Lord of Light" still make their appearances in my syllabi along with UKL's "The Left Hand of Darkness" and "The Dispossessed." (Yes, I have also included works by GRRM, Our Gracious Host *grin*).
Apr. 19th, 2015 07:06 pm (UTC)
Reading Nine Princes right now
My 1st Amber or Zelazny, for that matter.
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