Tuesday, November 9, 2010
"The Stainless Steel Leech" by Roger Zelazny
From looking at this cover you would never know that it contains a Roger Zelazny story. Later in his career they would put his name on it if he wrote a letter to the editor. The reason for this was probably because it appeared under the pen name "Harrison Denmark". His early stories for Amazing appeared under this name. At the time, readers speculated that "Harrison Denmark" was really Harry Harrison who was living in Denmark at the time. The name of this story added fuel to this rumor since Harrison was writing the "Stainless Steel Rat" stories.
Zelazny liked working in the science fantasy field. In this story he combines the traditional end of humanity and robots who inherit our legacy with the fantasy element of vampires. This is common for the author. One example would be the combination of alternate worlds with magic in his Amber series.
The mixture works in this story. The robots inheriting the world from humanity as been done before. The twist with the vampires is what makes this story different. When Zelazny does something like this, I don't find myself questioning him. He somehow makes it work. Part of the success of this endeavor is the way he focus' on the loneliness and friendship experienced by a robot who is an outcast and a vampire who lives in a world where humanity has dies out.
This is another in the long line of recommended Zelazny short stories.