Creatures of Light and Darkness Paperback – 13 April 2010
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- ASIN : 0061936456
- Publisher : Harper Voyager; Reissue edition (13 April 2010)
- Language : English
- Paperback : 208 pages
- ISBN-10 : 9780061936456
- ISBN-13 : 978-0061936456
- Dimensions : 13.49 x 1.19 x 20.32 cm
- Best Sellers Rank: 359,864 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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From the Back Cover
Two gods, two houses, one quest, and the eternal war between life and death
To save his kingdom, Anubis, Lord of the Dead, sends forth his servant on a mission of vengeance. At the same time, from The House of Life, Osiris sends forth his son, Horus, on the same mission to destroy utterly and forever The Prince Who Was a Thousand.
But neither of these superhuman warriors is prepared for the strange and harrowing world of mortal life, and The Thing That Cries in the Night may well destroy not only their worlds, but all mankind.
As Zelazny did with the Hindu pantheon in the legendary, groundbreaking classic Lord of Light, the master storyteller here breathes new life into the Egyptian gods with another dazzling tale of mythology and imagination.
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It is because it is initially so confusing and inaccessible that I'm giving it three stars, because many people will be put off by that. Also because it is so unlike conventional writing.
To be fair, the author never intended it for publication, but wrote it for himself, as an exercise. Hence why the form is so experimental. In the author's own words he "threw everything at it", leaving us with perhaps the best example of the tropes that the 1960s New Wave movement of sci-fi presented: rich, humourous, surreal and dream-like prose; eccentric characters drawn up in profound or revolutionary struggles; a strong feeling that there is an undeveloped moral in the story, like a rough diamond, so that the resonance with the reader is more emotional than intellectual; a story that reads like one big acid-trip of an adventure.
There is no point talking about the plot; it's complex, moves at lightspeed, and is presented in fragmented windows. This book is an experiment in form, some chapters are written in verse, some as a TV script/play, some as dreamy prose.
The characters are complex; gods distinctly human in behaviour and yet beyond human in their motives and their vastness. There is an agnostic priest whose amusing and ironic prayers are now well-quoted online and have a life of their own outside of the book, as religious satire (just Google "Madrak's prayer"). There is a Steel General: a champion of revolutions and underdogs since Earth's earliest military history, who has been patched up so many times that he no longer has his own body, and is now an immortal cyborg of god-like power. The gods fight each other using "fugue", which means they skip about in time and space to be in multiple places simultaneously, fighting like Neo in the Matrix. A notable character, Vramin, is (in my opinion) a parody of the author himself: a fallen angel who is now a mad poet and a magician, who constantly opens windows that act as gateways to other events, skipping around from one to the next (kind of like the plot), who leaves profound verse scorched onto the face of planets, for people to read, love and then instantly forget what it said (or in one instance, deliberately urinate on).
This novel jumps from small-scale to large-scale intermittently: one moment you are immersed in detailed description of the sights and smells of a seedy alleyway outside a cybernetic brothel, in a parody of the birth of Christ and the visit of the three wise men; next you are lost in a battle between gods in the vastness of space where entire planets are ripped apart in the course of their combat, or slip into another dimension altogether. And then there are places and creatures that are beyond even the gods' understanding; older gods that the gods themselves fear...It's hard to tell if it's mind-blowing or overwhelming. Some bits irritated me, other parts contained prose and verse so wonderful it was worth the effort just to read those sentences.
It's this "effort" aspect that leads me to conclude by urging you not to read this book if you have never read Roger Zelazny before. Because you will not have the faith to know that it is worth the effort, and - worst of all - it may put you off reading anything else he wrote. Instead, go read either his short story collection The Doors of His Face, The Lamps of His Mouth (currently only available from second-hand stores, which is a great shame), or his masterpiece Lord of Light (currently a bargain on Amazon for £3.50), or the compelling This Immortal, or the nostalgic gothic fun of A Night in the Lonesome October.
Once you have read those, you will know Zelazny at his most brilliant, and then you will be ready to try this book, knowing it is a book that will get better each time you read it...
Wasn't intended for publication ?
Definitely inferior to Lord of Light and This Immortal.
It was delivered quickly and I'm always amazed at Amazon's service.
Anyone who is a fan of fantasy science fiction must read this book and its familiar work The Lord of Light.