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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. 19th, 2015 08:47 pm (UTC)
When I was first getting into science fiction, I kept reading his last name as "Zelzany."

I should go back and pick up his non-Amber works again; I think I was too young (ten or so) for them at the time.
Frank Probst
Apr. 19th, 2015 10:18 pm (UTC)
Wouldn't The Chronicles of Amber make a great TV show?
Apr. 19th, 2015 10:49 pm (UTC)
Re: TV!
It would indeed.

And of course it was LORD OF LIGHT that the CIA used to get those guys out of Iran, not ARGO.
Re: TV! - vnehring - Apr. 20th, 2015 02:36 am (UTC) - Expand
Apr. 19th, 2015 10:54 pm (UTC)

That's the Sunday of the Sasquan All Staff Meeting in Spokane, so it's deeply unlikely that I can be there. I am very sad to have to miss the event.

I started reading the Amber books when there were just two of them in paperback available at the Campbell Library. I thought it would be a trilogy.

I gutted out the wait for the third paperback to get to my local general bookstore, which I could bike to. Same with the fourth. But by the time Courts of Chaos came out I knew I couldn't wait that long. I plotted out the bus connections and made my way downtown to the specialty book shop near San Jose State and plunked down the seemingly vast amount of money for the first hardcover first edition of my then sixteen years, and never looked back.

I only met Roger once, at a signing at the Other Change of Hobbit, but he was a sweet, generous, kind man willing to take time to chat with even the most star struck idiot. So anyway, I'm sorry I can't be there, but I will think of you all, with envy.
Apr. 20th, 2015 12:16 am (UTC)
Best Name Ever
Shimbo Darktree: Shrugger of Thunders.
Apr. 20th, 2015 05:52 am (UTC)
I had the honor of meeting Roger once, at a writer's conference in Canton, Ohio when I was just a teenager. I think I still have the battered copy of Roadmarks that he was kind enough to sign for me. In later years I was amused to note that my path through life seemed to be paralleling his - growing up and going to college in northeastern Ohio, then taking a government job in Maryland where I started trying to write seriously.

Today I'm older than he was when I met him, but he still feels like a role model to me. I've always envied the joy he seemed to find in his craft, and in life in general. I've missed him ever since he left us.
Apr. 20th, 2015 01:29 pm (UTC)
I was too young, and not going to cons and such while he was still with us, so I never got to meet him, but I've enjoyed his work ever since I stumbled across a used copy of "Trumps of Doom" at a church thrift-sale (imagine my confusion at book 6 of that 10 book series!)

I'm currently working my way through that six-volume "Collected Stories" set of all of Zelazny's shorter work. What a treasure-trove. I'm always in envy of his versatility and incredible breadth of knowledge he'd draw on to craft his tales.

(You've likely already seen this, but there is some recorded footage on Youtube of him reading his short story "Loki 7281" at the Fourth Street Fantasy Convention in 1986. It's a real treat, and he really seemed to be having a lot of fun reading for the crowd. The audience was also, clearly, enjoying themselves.)
Apr. 20th, 2015 01:41 pm (UTC)
My first Zelazny was in Wild Cards
And it's very fitting that the Cocteau is premiering this. As a fan of both Zelazny and of musical plays, I'm very intrigued.
Apr. 21st, 2015 04:22 am (UTC)
Lord or Light
It is too bad Lord of Light never made it onto the big screen. If it had you could be showing that.

Apr. 21st, 2015 07:13 am (UTC)
Jack of Shadows
My favorite Zelazny book is still Jack of Shadows. I wish it wasn't so terribly hard to get these days. I have a French translation and found a battered second hand English edition a few years ago.

I wish there would be reprint. There are several friends that would like to have that book.
Apr. 22nd, 2015 03:40 am (UTC)
Re: Jack of Shadows
I recently picked up a paperback copy of Jack of Shadows at a bookstore in Taos (NM). They had several books by Zelazny and Jack Williamson.


Edited at 2015-04-22 03:42 am (UTC)
Apr. 21st, 2015 03:55 pm (UTC)
I wish I could say I ever knew Roger, but that was never to be. There was a question I wanted to ask him.

Before the Merlin books came out, I was part of an approved Amber fan group. We sent everything we did to Roger. In one of the newsletters, we all wrote which Amber character we most were like. I chose Merlin, in large part because he was so unknown. I also described myself, specifically mentioning that I was a programmer.

When the first Merlin book came out, and before I got a copy (I was waiting to get it from the library) the head of the fan group met me at a convention and asked me if I read the book yet. When I said I hadn't, she said "Merlin's you: Merlin's a programmer." Whether what I wrote earlier ever had an influence on Merlin's character, I couldn't say and I will never know.
Apr. 21st, 2015 07:45 pm (UTC)
When a friend gave me a copy of A Night in the Lonesome October I knew somehow that I was in for a rare treat. I haven't been disappointed since and am going to be following this event closely. I have always wanted to go to New Mexico. :)
Apr. 21st, 2015 07:50 pm (UTC)
In the nineties I was on a panel about Victorian-themed SF with him and other authors at a British university convention. He was on the panel because he'd just written a book with a Victorian setting, I because I write RPGs with that setting, and for some reason I went into a little rant about the fact that most stories drawing on this period invoke Jack the Ripper and/or Sherlock Holmes. I think I complained about lack of imagination.

What I hadn't realised was that his new book, A Night in the Lonesome October, was narrated by a close associate of the Ripper, and if memory serves me correctly has characters very like Holmes and Watson turn up on their trail... He was actually very good about it, especially when I showed him the copy I'd just bought but hadn't read yet.
Apr. 21st, 2015 08:31 pm (UTC)
I wish I could come it sounds wonderful
True story: I named my son Random after King Random of Amber. This turned out to be prophetic since in his youth my son was a bit of a rogue and then turned into a responsible leader.

I reread Lord of Light, Creatures of Light and Darkness, Amber Series and Jack of Shadows every year or two. Lord of Light is my favorite book of all time. After so many years and so many readings, once I start it I can't put it down until I finish it.

I want to second the request for a recording or a live feed of the event.
Apr. 21st, 2015 11:31 pm (UTC)
Thanks for doing this. It's such a wonderful tribute. I still remember the first time I read Roger Zelazny. My father's girlfriend lived down the street from us when I was about fourteen or so. I was at her house one day in the summer, looking for something to read, and she gave me her ex-husband's shoe box full of sci-fi paperbacks. I started and finished Roadmarks that same day, and I never stopped loving his work.
Apr. 23rd, 2015 04:21 pm (UTC)
Zelazny was an amazing writer. I first "met" him with WILD CARDS and Croyd Crenson, one of the greatest characters in the series. And I went on to read and enjoy the Amber books, Lord of Light, Isle of the Dead, This Immortal, Doorways in the Sand, and lots more.

I was very sad when I heard of his passing. There were a couple years back in the early 1990s when I devoured everything I could find by him, and then I also read everything I could find of Philip José Farmer (one of Zelazny's main influences) and Walter Jon Williams (one of the guys most influenced BY Zelazny).

There is something so very unique about his vision of superhumanity, and I am kind of sad that there aren't any decent movies or TV shows based on his work.
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