Bookscan #6

Writer: Roger Zelazny
Del Rey, May 1978 - Third Printing

The cover of this edition of the book is quite unattractive. The book itself consists of 3 novellas, losely connected by the fact that they have the same protagonist. He, like almost all Zelazny protagonists, is a larger-than-life character. His real name is not known to anyone, including the readers. He appears under a different name in each story. The stories are told in first person.

The first novella is titled "The Eve of RUMOKO". It is an interested read except that I detested the ending. I have found that other than larger-than-life characters, unsatisfactory endings are quite common in novellas and novels of Zelazny. However, he writes so well that most of his stories are worth reading in spite of unsatisfactory endings. This story made me look up more details about undersea drilling of earth's core. I found out about the American Miscellaneous Society and about project Mohole. I also found out how economics and politics can undermine science.

The title of the second novella is unpronouncable and meaningless so I will not even mention it. The novella itself is very good. It is a murder mystery and on the side, it talks about dolphins and their intelligence.

The third novella is "Home is the Hangman". This was first published in the November 1975 issue of Analog and it went on to win both the Hugo and Nebula awards for the best novella. It deals with artificial intelligence and is a very interesting read. However, it is not explained anywhere in the story why the robot is named Hangman. I believe Zelazny named him thus just for the sake of giving the story a poetic title.

Zelazny has dedicated this collection to Bill Spangler and Fred Lerner. Of course, I looked them up. Bill Spangler (full name William E. Spangler) is Professor of Information Systems and Technology and Associate Dean for Academic Affairs in the Palumbo Donahue School of Business at Duquesne University. Fred Lerner ( has written books and essays on science fiction and other subjects. In one of his very interesting essays, he speculates on possibility of Kimball O'Hara (Kim of Kipling's novel of the same name)being a student of Sherlock Holmes at one time.


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