Tuesday, July 5, 2011

The Beginnings of Amber (a Roger Zelazny Tale)

Once upon a time, Roger Zelazny came up with an idea for a new short story.  In it a being had the ability to create parallel worlds.  When he did this he could guide the process into making changes that suited him.  His race could travel between the worlds.  They are stronger than the beings they create.  At the start of the story, he would awaken on one of the worlds.  From there Zelazny weaves a story of betrayal and a quest for freedom. 

Fans of Zelazny’s work will recognize this as the basic plot behind the Chronicles of Amber (my reviews of the first two books can be read at Nine Princes in Amber and The Guns of Avalon).  But the Amber series was not Zelazny’s first attempt at writing this story.  The first one is called “Love is an Imaginary Number”.  Having read the Amber novels before I discovered this story, it seems like it is full of ideas that are never developed.  The short story form did not give Zelazny time to explore all of the concepts he introduces.  Fortunately for us, he went on to develop them in a series of novels. 

“Love is an Imaginary Number” is an interesting piece of history.  Fans of Roger Zelazny should invest the small amount of time it takes to find and read this story.  I look at it as an alternate universe version of Corwin.  Based on the principles of the Amber series, it could be a story of Corwin that fits into the Amber Chronicles.  Although the details do not match up with the novels, it is possible that the main character is not being completely truthful. 

Either way, I am glad I read this tale.  Any time I get the opportunity to read a new “Amber” story, I will take it. 

Recommended. 

1 comment:

Jugular Josh said...

I really enjoy your reviews, and this is another one of my favorites, and I agree, it seems very much like a proto-Amber. I especially like the narrator's response when they offer him peace: "The peace of the eunuch; the peace of lobotomy, lotus and Thorazine."

It's a great story, but nobody ever talks about it. I'm glad you reviewed it!