Sunday, October 10, 2010

"And I Alone Am Escaped to Tell Thee " by Roger Zelazny

First Printing:  Twilight Zone, May 1981

Back in the early days of my sf reading, one of my friends and I were hooked on the Perry Rhodan series.  Many science fiction fans had a strong dislike of the series.  I can see their point.  Perry Rhodan was a German produced throw back to the old pulp style stories.  I have always been able to enjoy some fiction as escapism and others as serious fiction.  Would I enjoy that series today?  Probably not but it will always have a place on my bookshelf.  Sometimes I get them out and look through them.  It is fun to visit the places of our youth.  In the words of a famous writer, I told you that story so I could tell you another.

One of the features in the back of the Perry Rhodan books was called “Shock Shorts”.  Normally less than 5 pages, they told a story with a twist ending.  The idea was to invoke memories of the Twilight Zone television show or the old comic book anthologies.  The best part of “Shock Shorts” was it was a chance for a new writer to get something in print.  The first Steven Utley story I can remember was one of the “Shock Shorts”.  Reading “And I Alone Am Escaped to Tell Thee” brought back memories of those stories.  Being written by Roger Zelazny, one of my favorites, means that it is better written than the shorts in the back of Perry Rhodan.  

Roger Zelazny uses his skill at poetic, moody writing to quickly pull you into this very short story.  He manages to bring an old legend to life and combine it with a touch of history.  I would recommend tracking this story down and reading it.  It can easily be read in one sitting but the haunting images will stay with you long after you finish it.  At first I thought that it would make a great episode of the Twilight Zone.  This story originally appeared in the Twilight Zone magazine.

It would have been interesting to see what Roger would have done with the “New Weird” movement.  I think his style would have been perfect for it.


Kailana said...

What I have read from Zelazny so far is really good! I must read more from him at some point. I haven't read this before, though, so can't really comment on it.

Carl V. said...

I have not read much Zelazny, which I am sure is a shame. You have me very curious about this short story and I'm going to have to go looking for it now.

It is nice to revisit the places of our youth. And more often than not I find myself enjoying those visits. Perhaps I haven't developed a mature enough taste, because I find I am often alone in being able to enjoy these things, but that is okay. I love being able to pick up an old favorite and enjoy it every bit as much as I enjoy picking up something new, to me, that is considered very good and having a great experience with it.

Voltamancer said...

Other good twist endings:
"L is for Loup-Garou" (Harlan Ellison)
"Transfer of Power" (Larry Niven)
"We Can Remember It For You Wholesale" (Phillip K. Dick) a little longer than the two vingettes above