4) Creatures of Light and Darkness, by Roger Zelazny
Returning to an early favourite for me here; it must be over twenty years since I first read this, and I think maybe as many as ten years since I picked up this copy in an English seaside resort. The plot, to be honest, doesn’t hold much water: far in the future, the Egyptian deities have returned (or some godlike beings have set themselves up as such) and are in charge of the universe. Various other mythical and cyborg beings drop in on proceedings. But really the book is a delight for the language and the impassioned present tense narrative, which sweeps you along so effectively that you don’t notice how little sense it makes. Notable also for the Possibly Proper Death Litany, an agnostic’s prayer:
Insofar as I may be heard by anything, which may or may not care what I say, I ask, if it matters, that you be forgiven for anything you may have done or failed to do which requires forgiveness. Conversely, if not forgiveness but something else may be required to insure any possible benefit for which you may be eligible after the destruction of your body, I ask that this, whatever it may be, be granted or withheld, as the case may be, in such a manner as to insure your receiving said benefit. I ask this in my capacity as your elected intermediary between yourself and that which may not be yourself, but which may have an interest in the matter of your receiving as much as it is possible for you to receive of this thing, and which may in some way be influenced by this ceremony. Amen.
and for the great line, “They are my innards! I will not have them read by a poseur!”