The world needs a ‘Chronicles of Amber’ TV show
Roger Zelazny burst onto the sci-fi scene in the 1960s with a series of groundbreaking stories combining pulp sensibility with allusive pyrotechnic prose. One of his many admirers is the writer F. Brett Cox, who has just published a delivered About the Author.
“It’s hard to overestimate the impact of his work on the people who adore him,” Cox says in episode 467 of the Geek’s Guide to the Galaxy Podcast. “In my own fiction, I have probably spent my entire career trying to write something that would affect everyone as strongly as the last sentence in ‘A rose for Ecclesiastes’ affected me the first time I read it.
In the 70s and 80s, Zelazny enjoyed phenomenal success with his 10 volumes amber series, but critics felt that the Sword and the Witchcraft Tale was a waste of his talents. Cox believes that the critical consensus on amber is, at best, an oversimplification.
“There is often a gap between what we academics or critics want literature to do and what literature actually does,” he says. “And I think the amber The series is a great example of what literature can actually do. It gives readers a world to lose themselves in and be a part of. It hooks them.
And while Zelazny’s critical reputation may have waned over the years, his lively and playful storytelling style has had a disproportionate influence on several generations of fantasy writers. “I quoted a few young writers at the end of the book about how Zelazny influenced their work,” Cox says, “and I know very well that with at least one of them, and maybe all, that amber was the front door – the amber the books are what brought them.
Zelazny remains mostly unknown outside of science fiction, but Cox is hopeful that a movie or TV adaptation could make him a household name, as happened with Zelazny’s close friend George RR Martin. .
“A few years ago there was speak that Robert Kirkman, who made The walking dead, wanted to do a mini-series of The chronicles of amberCox says. “So there were hints that maybe could lead to some sort of broader awareness.”
Listen to F. Brett Cox’s full interview in Episode 467 of Geek’s Guide to the Galaxy (above). And check out some highlights from the discussion below.
F. Brett Cox on Zelazny’s personality:
“[Zelazny] has always been linked with Samuel R. Delany, and he was also good friends with Harlan Ellison. It’s an interesting contrast, as they were strong and well-known contemporaries. And of course we all know how much Harlan Ellison wrote about himself, and Delany wrote many memoirs. But Zelazny didn’t. … I spoke to people, as much as I could, who knew Zelazny – among people I know or had access to, and it was truly a surprisingly universal consensus that he was personally esteemed. No one had a bad word to say about it, and it was great fun to learn. But several people also noted that, as the saying goes, he stood for himself. There was always a bit of distance there.
F. Brett Cox on Zelazny’s review:
“With regard to the monographic studies of Zelazny, there was a in the beginning of Carl Yoke, who was a longtime scholar in science fiction studies, and was also a close friend of Zelazny – they grew up together in Ohio. And then there was Krulik’s book, and then there was Lindskold’s book. There is a quote from Lindskold in his introduction to one of the NESFA Press volumes collected stories, and his claim is that Zelazny wrote some of those seemingly more conventional sword and witchcraft tales because he liked that stuff. He grew up reading it, he really liked this particular branch of genre fiction, and he wrote it because he wanted to.
F. Brett Cox on literary reputation:
“The question of literary reputation is infinitely complicated and infinitely fascinating. … Bradbury is for sure still the sci-fi writer people know even if they don’t read sci-fi, and Philip K. Dick has joined this company as well. But also if you look [Zelazny’s] contemporaries, people like Delany, like Ursula Le Guin, like Joanna Russ, par excellence like JG Ballard, [they all] gained a reputation outside of science fiction – Michael Moorcock is well known in contemporary British literature – and Zelazny just didn’t. And I don’t have a specific answer for that.
F. Brett Cox on Zelazny and Moorcock:
“When Moorcock was editing New worlds and they serialized Norman Spinrad’s novel Bug Jack Barron, he was denounced in Parliament for publishing obscene material. And Zelazny was also involved in this. He published a good part of Creatures of light and darkness in New worlds, and some of his short fiction there. A very interesting moment in the correspondence that I read in the libraries between Zelazny and Moorcock was when Moorcock was simply saying, “Give me more.” Write something. ‘ It’s amazing how much other writers of his day regarded his work, how absolutely other writers of the 1960s were absolutely amazed at what he was doing.