Last Exit to Babylon, by Roger Zelazny

Second paragraph of third story (“Home is the Hangman”):

I sat in a chair turned sidewise from the table to face the door. A tool kit rested on the floor to my left. The helmet stood on the table, a lopsided basket of metal, quartz, porcelain, and glass. If I heard the click of a microswitch followed by a humming sound from within it, then a faint light would come on beneath the meshing near to its forward edge and begin to blink rapidly. If these things occurred, there was a very strong possibility that I was going to die.

Very glad to start this write-up with a quote from a favourite story, the Hugo and Nebula-winning climax of the three stories of a nameless protagonist which make up My Name is Legion. The later 1970s were a productive and fertile time for Zelazny’s imagination; the one problem with this volume, the fourth of six collecting his short fiction, is that I have read it all before – My Name is Legion, Dilvish, the Damned, Unicorn Variations – I even have a copy of The Illustrated Roger Zelazny with the Jack of Shadows prequel “Shadowjack”. Still, there is plenty of explanatory material outlining how each story came to be written, and a useful afterword linking the short fiction and poetry to Zelazny’s novels and other life events (notably the births of his children). For a Zelazny completist like me, it’s indispensable; but it adds less than previous volumes did.

This was the last book left on my shelves bought in 2009. That now opens up all my 2010 lists: non-fiction (The Other Islam, by Stephen Schwartz), non-genre (See How Much I Love You, by Luis Leante), sf (Argonautica, by Valerius Flaccus), short books (De Piraten van de Zilveren Kattenklauw, by “Geronimo Stilton”), and most popular (The Palace of Dreams, by Ismail Kadarë).

One thought on “Last Exit to Babylon, by Roger Zelazny

  1. at 08:04 into the show, I spotted a familiar face

    Good lord! It doesn’t really get much better than that, does it?

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