Monday, April 23, 2018

P is for Pride (of a Prince): Zelazny A to Z

Pride

/prīd/

  1. The consciousness of one's own dignity.
  2. Tthe quality of having an excessively high opinion of oneself or one's importance.
Two passages on pride from Nine Princes in Amber


"Look, I said I'm sorry," I told him. "What do you want me to do? Nobody got hurt and there was no damage."
    "They shouldn't turn goddamn drivers like you loose on die road!" he yelled. "You're a friggin' menace!"
    Random got out of the car then and said, "Mister, you'd better move along!" and he had a gun in his hand.
    "Put that away," I told him, but he flipped the safety catch off and pointed.
    The guy turned around and started to run, a look of fear widening his eyes and loosening his jaw.
    Random raised the pistol and took careful aim at the man's back, and I managed to knock his arm to the side
just as he pulled the trigger.
    It scored the pavement and ricocheted away.
    Random turned toward me and his face was almost white.
    "You bloody fool!" he said. "That shot could have hit the tank!"
    "It could also have hit the guy you were aiming at."
    "So who the hell cares? We'll never pass this way again, in this generation. That bastard dared to insult a Prince of
Amber! It was your honor I was thinking about."
    "I can take care of my own honor," I told him, and something cold and powerful suddenly gripped me and answered, "for he was mine to kill, not yours, had I chosen," and a sense of outrage filled me.
    He bowed his head then, as the cab door slammed and the truck took off down the road.
    "I'm sorry, brother," he said. "I did not mean to presume. But it offended me to hear one of them speak to you in such a manner. I know I should have waited to let you dispose of him as you saw fit, or at least have consulted with you."

And

    "Wait!" he cried out. "I spoke hastily. I don't want to lose your counsel, if nothing else. Stay with me, please. I will even apologize."
    "That is not necessary," I said, knowing what this thing means to a prince of Amber. "I'll stay. I think I can help you."

The overweening pride of the royal family is largely a characterization that was abandoned in later books, but I think it's interesting to examine how it informs the first one.

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Friday, April 20, 2018

O is for Orangutan: Zelazny A to Z

O·rang·u·tan

/ôˈraNG(ɡ)əˌtan/

A large mainly solitary arboreal ape with long reddish hair, long arms, and hooked hands and feet, native to Borneo and Sumatra. The mature male develops fleshy cheek pads and a throat pouch.

The Black Throne isn't my favorite story by Roger Zelazny. It's not even my favorite collaboration of his with Fred Saberhagen. It's a Poe pastiche, but there is something there, and I'm glad I live in a world of where it exists.

Thursday, April 19, 2018

N is for Night: Zelazny A to Z

Night, Thing that Cried in the

In the days when I reigned
as Lord of Life and Death,
          says the Prince Who Was A Thousand,
in those days, at Man’s request,
did I lay the Middle Worlds within a sea of power,
tidal, turning thing,
thing to work with peaceful sea change
the birth,
growth,
death
designs upon them;

then all this gave
to Angels ministrant,
their Stations bordering Midworlds,
their hands to stir the tides.
And for many ages did we rule so,
elaborating the life,
tempering the death,
promoting the growth,
extending
the shores of that great, great sea,
as more and more of the Outworlds
were washed by the curling,
crowned by creation's foam.

Then one day,
brooding on the vast abyss
of such a world, brave,
good-seeming,
though dead, barren,
not then touched by the life,
         I roused some sleeping thing
with the kiss of the tide I rode.

M is for Merlin: Zelazny A to Z

Mer·lin

/ˈmərlən/

1.) Son of Corwin and Dara and the protagonist in the second chronicles of Amber.
2.) A contemptibly obnoxious person.
3.) A stupid, irritating, or contemptible man.
4.) Paste-eater

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

L is for Lokapalas: Zelazny A to Z

Lokapāla, Sanskrit and Pāli for "guardian of the world", has different uses depending on whether it is found in a Hindu or Buddhist context.

In Hinduism, lokapāla refers to the Guardians of the Directions associated with the eight, nine and ten cardinal directions.

In Buddhism, lokapāla refers to the Four Heavenly Kings, and to other protector spirits, whereas the Guardians of the Directions are referred to as the 'dikpālas'.


The girl sat on the floor, a heap of various objects before her. She was scarcely more than a child, and she hugged a brown and white puppy and looked at Kubera with wide, frightened eyes, until he gestured and she smiled.
"Kubera," said Yama.
"Koo-bra," said the girl.
"She is my daughter," said Yama. "Her name is Murga."
"I never knew you had a daughter."
"She is retarded. She suffered some brain damage."
"Congenital, or transfer effect?" asked Kubera.
"Transfer effect."
"I see."
"She is my daughter," repeated Yama, "Murga."
"Yes," said Kubera.
Yama dropped to his knees at her side and picked up a block.
"Block," he said.
"Block," said the girl.
He held up a spoon. "Spoon," he said.
"Spoon," said the girl.
He picked up a ball and held it before her. "Ball," he said.
"Ball," said the girl.
He picked up the block and held it before her again. "Ball,"  she repeated.
Yama dropped it.
"Help me, Kubera," he said.
"I will, Yama. If there is a way, we will find it."
He sat down beside him and raised his hands. The spoon came alive with spoon-ness and the ball with ball-ness and the block with block-ness, and the girl laughed. Even the puppy seemed to study the objects.
"The Lokapalas are never defeated," said Kubera, and the girl picked up the block and stared at it for a long time before she named it.