Bookscan #2

Writer: Roger Zelazny

Paperback, Ace, 1966 - First Edition

This novel incorporates Zelazny's Nebula Award winning novella, "He Who Shapes". This book displays Zelazny's signature writing style - poetic and complex - but in spite of it (or because of it?) it is a smooth read. The main character, Render the Shaper, is a psychiatrist who tries to help his patients by shaping dreams for them - dreams that have the potential to aid the patient in coming to terms with reality. There are some very interesting, and even insightful, passages in the book. For example, at one point, Render muses on the rising rate of suicides:

The power to hurt has evolved in a direct relationship to technological advancement. Man's potential for working simple mayhem has been multiplied by mass-production; his capacity for injuring the psyche through personal contacts has expanded in an exact ratio to improved communication facilities.

This passage took me on a side excursion. I looked up suicide statistics and this is what I found: The absolute number of suicide deaths in the world increased by 6.7% annually between 1990 and 2016. It appears that what Zelazny wrote in 1966 is immensely more valid today in the age of FaceBook, Instagram, Twitter and other social media platforms.

The book is definitely worth a read despite the fact that I did not like the ending.


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