Author: Roger Zelazny
First Publication: 1979
Publisher: Del Rey
Cover 1: Darrell K. Sweet
Cover 2: Tim White
Some time ago I announced that I was doing a “Roger Zelazny Reading Project”. My plan is to read or re-read the novels and collections written by one of my favorite authors. I drifted away from it but plan on getting back on track during the second half of this year. “Roadmarks” is the seventh read for the project. It is one that I never read before but it is now on my shelf of books I plan on re-reading someday.
The Darrel Sweet cover alone caught my eye. A beat up old truck driving down a road, the sign reads “Last Exit to Babylon”, and a dragon is flying overhead. Immediately you can tell that this is a fantasy or science fiction book.
Like many of his works, Zelazny keeps alive the science fantasy genre. In this one we have science fiction elements (i.e. robots) and fantasy elements (i.e. the dragons). It is also similar to the Amber series in that the hero does not remember who he is and travels between different alternate worlds. Zelazny develops this book along different lines so that he is not simply rehashing the Amber books.
Everyone seems to know that the Dragons built the road that connects the alternate worlds and times, but does not know why. It is one of the mysteries that Zelazny does not reveal. I am not sure if he planned on revisiting this universe someday. In some of his works, he left mysteries unsolved. It makes the stories more realistic.
The author’s love of other fictional characters comes alive in this book. One that jumped out at me was his description of someone named John who is hired to kill Red (the protagonist). John is described as dressing in a single color. The more he described John the more it reminded me of John Sunlight. Sunlight was the only villain to appear in more than one of the Doc Savage books. In fact, later in “Roadmarks”, even Doc makes an appearance. It was a bonus trying to figure out who the different characters represented.
“Roadmarks” has jumped to the top of my favorite reads of 2014 list. Highly recommended.