Friday, May 18, 2018

Z is for Zahn: Zelazny A to Z

Roger Zelazny isn’t the only author I read, but he’s certainly my favorite and he’s the first I seek out when I enter a bookstore. This task is made easier by virtue of his name. I go to the end of the bookshelf and tilt my head sideways and read the names on the spines. Most chain bookstores organize the sci-fi/fantasy section alphabetically by author, but then they include series that have many different authors after those.

So I would see Tad Williams and Timothy Zahn and I knew that if I saw those guys and got to the Star Wars books that this particular bookstore wouldn’t have anything by Zelazny. I like Zahn’s work quite a bit, but I still bear him a tiny bit of resentment for the crime of not being Roger Zelazny.

Thus concludes my Zelazny A to Z. Thanks for reading!

Blogger Tricks

Thursday, May 17, 2018

Y is for Yok: Zelazny A to Z

The "...And Call Me Roger" biography segment of NEFSA's Collected Stories has to be my favorite part of a very strong collection.

The monster monarchs from the Great Slow Kings are no doubt similar to ones Zelazny had written as a kid with lifelong friend Carl Yoke about their namesake monsters Yok and Zlaz.

Friday, May 11, 2018

X is for X-Division, Xenagogue, Xenium, Xenization, Xenodochium and Xyresic: Zelazny A to Z

I wanted to do something different with this post, seeing as most A to Z lists fall back on X-ray or xylophone. I consulted this handy list of 40 words that begin with X and came up with a few contenders.

 X-DIVISION: Victorian slang for criminals or pickpockets, or people who make a living by some underhand means: This could work, seeing as many of Zelazny’s characters operate within the underworld.

XENAGOGUE: Derived from the same root as xenophobia, a xenagogue is someone whose job it is to conduct strangers or to act as a guide: Roger Zelazny is our xenagogue to his fantastic worlds.

XENIUM:  A xenium is a gift or offering given to a stranger, which in its native Ancient Greece would once have been a lavish feast or a refreshing spread of food and fruit. In the 19th century art world, however, xenium came to refer to a still-life painting depicting something like a extravagant display of food or a bowl of fruit: It doesn’t map exactly, but I could imagine the word evolving to apply to the Star-Stone in Doorways in the Sand.

XENIZATION: A 19th-century word meaning “the act of traveling as a stranger.”: Yeah, this list is kind of a cheat because they all have the same root word, but this is another theme common to Zelazny’s work.

XENODOCHIUM: A guesthouse or hostel, or any similar stopping place for travelers or pilgrims. Such as The Sign of the Burning Pestle, which lay upon a coach road near the ocean.
"My name is Jack, and I've traveled far to reach this place, Haric," he replied. "I seek an old woman who was coming here to spend her final days. Her name is Rosalie. Tell me what you know of her."
Haric creased his brow, lowered his head and squinted.
"Bide a moment," he said. "There was an old hag . . . Yes. She died some time ago."
"Oh," said Jack. "Tell me then where she is buried, that I might visit her grave."
Haric snorted and quaffed his wine. He then he began to laugh. He wiped his mouth on the back of his hand, then raised it to wipe his eyes with his sleeve.
"Buried?" he said. "She was worthless. We only kept her here for charity's sake, and because she knew somewhat of healing."
Tiny bulges of muscle appeared at the hinges of Jack's jaws.
"Then what did you do with her?" he inquired.
"Why we threw her carcass into the ocean.- Small pickings there for fishes, though."
Jack left the Sign of the Burning Pestle burning at his back, there on the coach road by the ocean.

XYRESIC: Means “razor-sharp.” That is a pretty great word. Zelazny’s writing is always pretty xyresic.

Tuesday, May 8, 2018

W is for Walpurgisnacht: Zelazny A to Z

Walpurgis Night, an abbreviation of Saint Walpurgis Night (from the German Sankt Walpurgisnacht [saŋkt valˈpʊʁɡɪsˌnaχt]), also known as Saint Walpurga's Eve (alternatively spelled Saint Walburga's Eve), is the eve of Christian feast day of Saint Walpurga, an 8th-century abbess in Francia, and is celebrated on night of 30 April and the day of 1 May. This feast commemorates the canonization of Saint Walpurga and the movement of her relics to Eichstätt, both of which occurred on 1 May in the year 870.

You'd think Walpurgisnacht would be an Amber story, as it's an unusual word that Merlin employs several times in Trumps of Doom, but it's a story about a computerized tombstone and a curmudgeonly uncle.

From the same article:

30 April is pálení čarodějnic ("burning of the witches") or čarodějnice ("the witches") in the Czech Republic. Huge bonfires—up to 8 metres (26 ft) tall—are built and burnt in the evening, preferably on top of hills. Young people gather around. Sudden black and dense smoke formations are cheered as "a witch flying away". An effigy of a witch is held up and thrown into a bonfire to burn.As evening advances to midnight and fire is on the wane, it is time to go search for a cherry tree in blossom. Young women should be kissed past midnight (and during the following day) under a cherry tree. They "will not dry up" for an entire year. The First of May is celebrated then as "the day of those in love".

My last name is Czech. Now I finally understand why I feel the urge to set Merlin on fire every April 30th.

Monday, May 7, 2018

Convention Report: East Coast Comic Con

I’ve attended so many good conventions lately that I tend to forget how lousy the bad ones are.

Con was a bit of a bust. Here's the thing. I reviewed the weapon policy before I set out and the umbrella seemed to be in compliance. It didn't look like a weapon, it was light-weight and had a plastic tip. They confiscated it anyway. Which is shitty, but their con, their rules.

But then I didn't have a satisfactory explanation when Lily asked why other people had knives, crowbars and yes, umbrellas as part of their costumes. That set the tone for the early part of the trip, but she eventually got over it.

The con itself wasn't so great, but there were some very nice moments surrounding it. It was nice working on a costume together with Lily and there were some nice quiet moments when we sat outside the convention center just talking.