Showing posts with label 1979. Show all posts
Showing posts with label 1979. Show all posts

Monday, July 28, 2014


Author:  Roger Zelazny

First Publication:  1979

Source:  Bookstore

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.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Jesus on Mars by Philip Jose Farmer

Synopsis(from the back cover): As billions of people around the globe sit glued to their television sets in the year 2015, Richard Orme, captain of the first expedition to land on Mars, takes another giant step for mankind. His first words, as he steps out of the landing craft onto the red planet, are transmitted to Earth minutes later: "Christopher Columbus, you should be here." Perhaps he was. Someone has been here. A spaceship sits half-buried under the red dust and heavy boulders. Nearby, there's a tunnel door. Richard Orme and his crew, dragged into the tunnel by Martians, enter a strange subterranean world where Martians live in caverns in a hollowed out Mars, a world where Martians pay homage to a sunlike globe-floating high above their cities of the interior. Orme thought they were sun worshippers. But there is a man who dwells within the flaming orb. And these people call him "Jesus". And the man they called "Jesus" would go back to Earth. He would be labeled "the Anti-Christ." And Richard Orme asked himself. Would history repeat itself...once more?

With the death of Philip Jose Farmer on February 25th, 2009 I thought it would be appropriate to review some Farmer books this year. I made a trip to the bookstore and found a copy of Jesus on Mars. I have read some Farmer stories but do not remember seeing this book. Just from reading the synopsis it looks like this one could have caused quite a stir when it appeared.

When Orme and his crew are captured, they find a thriving civilization under the surface of Mars. The society is a mix of Krsh and Jews taken from Earth. Together they have formed a society based on Mosaic laws. The crew has mixed reactions to the revelation that Jesus lives in a glowing orb on Mars. He makes regular appearances to perform miracles, etc. This is hard for the crew to accept. They can see that this society seems to have a lower crime rate and is peaceful. It is completely different from the society they know on Earth. Earth still has problems with war and crime. Unity among the people of Earth is a dream.

Through the course of the story we read how Orme deals with the revelations about Jesus. Jesus meets with him and offers an alternate explanation to what Orme has been led to believe. Jesus returns to Earth with a Martian army to bring his gifts to our world.

This was a very interesting look at how one event can change a society. I liked the fact that Farmer does not preach. He presents various options and lets the characters(and the readers) decide for themselves. Too many times in a story like this, the author tells you what to believe. I prefer Farmer's method.

Jesus on Mars is similar to his Dayworld series in that it showcases the changes a society goes through when a major change is introduced. I have read too many stories where society was basically unchanged by a major event. One of the reasons I liked The Chronoliths by Robert Charles Wilson was because of the way he showed the effects on the world of introducing the chronoliths.

Highly recommended.

Rating: 4 out of 5.