Posts tagged with "chronicles of amber" - Faerye Net 2010-10-20T15:35:10+00:00 Felicity Shoulders A lean, cadaverous figure 2010-10-20T15:35:10+00:00 2010-10-20T15:37:40+00:00 <p>I&#8217;m in the midst of two rereads right now: I&#8217;m listening to an audiobook of <em>Mansfield Park</em> and blazing my way through the entirety of <em>The Chronicles of Amber</em>. (So far I&#8217;ve noticed the restrained and slightly circumlocutory nature of Austen affecting my personal communications more than Zelazny&#8217;s mixture of the sardonic and lyrical.) I&#8217;m thoroughly enjoying my return trip through Amber and Chaos, and finding things I don&#8217;t remember noticing before.</p> <p>Take this passage, for example, as Corwin descends into the fastness below Amber:<br /> <blockquote>Twisting and winding through the gloom. The torch and lantern-lit guard station was theatrically stark within it. I reached the floor and headed that way.<br /> &#8220;Good evening, Lord Corwin,&#8221; said the lean, cadaverous figure who rested against a storage rack, smoking his pipe, grinning around it.<br /> &#8220;Good evening, Roger. How are things in the nether world?&#8221;<br /> &#8220;A rat, a bat, a spider. Nothing much else astir. Peaceful.&#8221;<br /> &#8220;You enjoy this duty?&#8221;<br /> He nodded. &#8220;I am writing a philosophical romance shot through with elements of horror and morbidity. I work on those parts down here.&#8221;<br /> &#8220;Fitting, fitting,&#8221; I said. &#8220;I&#8217;ll be needing a lantern.&#8221;<br /> He took one from the rack, brought it to flame from his candle.<br /> &#8220;Will it have a happy ending?&#8221; I inquired.<br /> He shrugged.<br /> &#8220;I&#8217;ll be happy.&#8221;<br /> &#8220;I mean, does good triumph and hero bed heroine? Or do you kill everybody off?&#8221;<br /> &#8220;That&#8217;s hardly fair,&#8221; he said.<br /> &#8220;Never mind. Maybe I&#8217;ll read it one day.&#8221;<br /> &#8220;Maybe,&#8221; he said.<br /> -Roger Zelazny, <em>The Hand of Oberon</em></blockquote></p> <p>I&#8217;m not sure how the significance of the dungeon guard&#8217;s name escaped me as a teenager and college student (perhaps I did see it, and had just forgotten) but now I find this colloquy very pleasing. Not only does it provide a light beat just where one is needed, but the joke rewards a close reader. It&#8217;s not jarring and can even be justified in-universe &#8212; if there are (at least) two Lancelots du Lac in the multiverse, why not two toiling authorial Rogers?</p> <p>I always enjoy meta-discussion of stories within fiction. (&#8220;You and I, Sam, are still stuck in the worst places of the story, and it is all too likely that some will say at this point: &#8216;Shut the book now, dad; we don&#8217;t want to read any more.&#8217;&#8221; &#8211; Tolkien) Making fiction is making meaning, and I feel it makes a narrative richer to have the characters realize that, realize how much even they/we are engaged in telling, justifying, framing things as we go about their/our business. Here it&#8217;s fascinating, in the midst of a series so varied in texture, setting and moment, to have an idea of how the author sums it up, what he thinks he is about. It&#8217;s playful and daring in a way I associate with Zelazny.</p> <p>It&#8217;s enough to tempt you to meet your own main character and tell them what you are presently writing about. (Would you dare? Note that Roger, here, holds a position where in the first book he presumably {SPOILER} <font color="white">guarded the captive Corwin for four years</font> and few of us have dealt more punishment to our characters than Zelazny has to Corwin.) Of course, most of us wouldn&#8217;t be so bold and Puckish as to include this exercise in our published works. And as for me, to my regret, it would be rather glaring if I included a bit player named &#8220;Felicity&#8221;!</p>