One of the many Hard Case Crime novels I'm looking forward to is The Dead Man's Brother by Roger Zelazny. In case you're not familiar with the name, Zelazny was one of the most extraordinary science fiction and fantasy writers of the Sixties and Seventies and Eighties.
"Zelazny portrayed worlds with plausible magic systems, powers, and supernatural beings. His descriptions of the nuts and bolts of magical workings set his fantasy writing apart from otherwise similar authors. His science fiction was highly influenced by mythology, poetry, including the French, British, and American classics of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, and by wisecracking detective fiction. His novels and short stories often involved characters from myth, depicted in the modern world. He was also apt to include modern elements, such as cigarettes and references to Marxism, in his fantasy worlds. Novels such as Jack of Shadows and Changeling revolve around a tension between two worlds, one based on magic and the other on technology."
Ed here: What this assessment doesn't convey is the magic of his writing. Even in his lesser works his words can stone you with their vitality and freshness.
I remember when the stories that comprised his first two collections (Four for Tomorrow (1967) and The Doors of His Face, The Lamps of His Mouth, and Other Stories (1969)) began appearing first in magazines. He came in with the New Wave and was one of its most exciting proponents.
It was The Chronicles of Amber, a pure adventure series, that made him famous. A fair share of reviewers considered this too commercial an approach but even here the rapier cunning of his style makes the occasional thud and blunder worthwhile.
He had fans in every genre. I believe it was Barbara Mertz a/k/a Elizabth Peters and I who spent part of a few phone calls back in the Eighties talking about how much we enjoyed his novel Changeling. A good deal of his work reads like suspense fiction with quirky sarcastic heroes involved in mysteries.
All this comes to mind because I picked up Zelazny's Doorways In The Sand by chance today, read the first chapter and am now on page eighty-six.
I'm eager to read his one and only suspense novel. Charles Ardai knows how to pick `em.
-----------CAGE OF NIGHT
I have four copies of the PS Publishing edition of Cage that I'll sell and inscribe for twenty dollars a book. The list price is forty. The cover is really fine and they did a nice job with the hardcover package. Makes a nice holiday gift. Today they sent me a review from a UK magazine that has now switched to a website as well (I think that's right).
"Why doesn’t everyone talk about Ed Gorman?
> I came to him through his short fiction: ‘Angie’ a dark crime piece that
> (like a lot of good work in the field) physically attacks you in the
> last few paragraphs. That story alone was enough to sell me the first
> two volumes of The Collected Ed Gorman PS Publishing released last year.
> They’re big books, just shy of 40 stories and novellas. Know how many
> duds there are between the covers? None.
> I say again: why doesn’t everyone talk about Ed Gorman?
> Now, thanks once more to PS, we have Cage of Night a novel that Stephen
> Gallagher’s introduction informs us was once rejected by a mainstream
> publisher due to its ‘fantastical content’. I doubt there are any Hub
> readers who need me to tell them that publishers can sometimes be very
> Cage of Night - like Gallagher’s Valley of Lights - is a crime novel
> with a peppering of fantasy. Possibly.
> The blurb: `Twenty-one-year-old Spence returns to his hometown after two
> years in the Army and falls in love with Cindy Brasher, Homecoming Queen
> and town goddess to a long line of jealous men.
> A string of robberies puts Spence at odds with his obsessive love for
> Cindy. One by one Spence's rivals are implicated in horrorific crimes.
> Spence wonders how much Cindy knows and why she wants him, like her past
> boyfriends, to visit the old well in the woods...'
> Gorman’s pitch-perfect prose is clean and solid, its ability to serve
> characters as real people putting you in mind of Joe R. Lansdale when in
> a conversational frame of mind. Unlike Lansdale - whose prose always
> threatens to split open and reveal violent lunacy or a really naughty
> joke - Gorman’s writing has an undercurrent of nothing less potent than
> realism: we believe every damn word he tells us. In that sense alone he
> shares a quality with Cindy Brasher, the beautifully damaged girl
> sitting at the heart of the novel.
> Despite the fact that you never forget you are reading a tragedy (with
> all the inevitable destruction that form promises) Gorman knows how to
> craft a story and keeps the novel’s options wide enough to avoid utter
> predictability. Not that I for one would have cared, while Gorman can
> plot as well as the rest of ‘em, it’s the sheer pleasure of his
> storytelling that pulls me in. He is that apocryphal writer that could
> publish his shopping list and I’d still buy it (duct tape, bourbon, a
> second-hand Conan paperback and some decent columbian coffee at a guess).
> Recommended with rabid enthusiasm, hell, I’ll make everyone talk about
> Gorman if it kills me."