ROGER ZELAZNY – A Night in the Lonesome October. William Morrow, hardcover, 1993; paperback, 1994. Chicago Review Press,softcover, 2014. Illustrated by Gahan Wilson.

   If I were to play the “one author for a desert island” game with science fiction, Roger Zelazny would certainly be one of the finalists, and several of his books would find their way onto any 100 best list I made.

   Most critical opinion would have it that his work has been essentially trivial for the last decade, or longer. I wouldn’t argue the point, but would argue that even trivial Zelazny is of a quality of readability matched by relatively few writing in the field today.

   This is about a diverse group of characters who gather in England for a recurring contest between two factions: one who wants to open a gate so that the Elder Gods can return, one who wants to bar it. The tale is told from the viewpoint of the familiar of one of the “closers,” a dog (of a sort) named Snuff. Without giving away too much of the plot, I’ll simply say that many of the players will be familiar.

   This is very much a Zelazny book in terms of style and obscurity, and by obscurity I mean that he never tells you as much about the characters and setting as you’d like to Know. Wilson’s many illustrations are as appealingly macabre as you’d expect, and add greatly to the book.

   This isn’t a work of substance. However, it’s pleasant if ephemeral, and it’s Zelazny, and that’ll do in a pinch.

— Reprinted from Ah, Sweet Mysteries #9, September 1993.