Written by the late Roger Zelazny, This Immortal was originally published under the title ...and Call Me Conrad. It shared the 1966 Hugo Award for Best Novel with Frank Herbert's Dune.
©1966 Roger Zelazny; (P)2008 Audible, Inc.
Earth is now a shadow of itself after going through a nuclear holocaust. The Vegan's have taken over - no no, not that type, picture Vogons (Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy). Conrad (the narrator) has been tasked with being the tour guide.. he's not keen on the idea.. but during this the Vegan's life is threatened and we find that it has become imperative that the Vegan stays alive... but why... the book gently takes you and carries you through to the end..
Definitely one of those books that I would put up there with:
Karel Capek - R.U.R. (Rossum's Universal Robots)
Aldous Huxley - Brave New World
BTW: those that have read my review will know I am quite particular about narration - has to be engaging and clear.. definitely a thumbs up here. Victor Bevine is definitely someone to follow.
I love Zelazney and this is one of my favourites. The reader is a bit too intense. He doesn't use enough inflection for my taste. He can do Zelazney's wonderful lyricism, but he doesn't emphasis the throw away humour, the great sense of timing and the bathos that undercut the lyricism. Conrad is complex, sincere,cynical and full of energy. He should sound more like Zorba the Greek or Steamboy, not like an English teacher.
When reading Zelazny, you have to get the context in which it was wriiten, otherwise it just seems dated. Zelazny, Harlan Ellison and others were part of the "New Wave" of SF writers that ushered in a new age of SF to counter the post world war II "golden age" SF of the 1950s. Gone were the superhuman warrior heroes of Robert Heinlein and the rest. Now we had anti-heroes with human flaws and a more introspective/cynical world views. Having said that, Zelazny was still able to strike a balance between cynicism of the new and the romanticism of the old. This book, while not my favorite of his, still shows off Zelazny's power to blend Science, History and Ancient Myth. I also like the narrator they chose for this one. Good listen!
He was one of the finest writers in SF, and its nice to seem some audiobooks being made. I am not a purist and I would even purchase the Amber audiobooks. I have read Heinlein, Asimov, Herbert and a host of others and he is still one of the best.
Please more audiobooks from him. Thanks, James
...and I _love_ Zelazny. I've read this many times over the years and it was great fun to hear it in a different form. If you enjoy more contemporary authors like Neil Gaiman you'll definitely dig this.
Maddie and I, are a dad-daughter combo who love audible books. She has recently started to write reviews also. I hope you can differentiate.
Normally I really enjoy R.Z.'s books, but the narration of the beginning was so monotone with way too many long pauses. I could not even follow what the narrator was saying and did not even get past the first 10 minutes. Just to give you an idea how bad it was..."Gnash, Gnash the teeth. Clippity clop, the hooves" became "Gnash <pause> gnash <long pause> the teeth <longer long pause> clippity <pause> clop <long pause> the hooves." The pauses were so long it was actually hard to link the words together. Save your money and skip this version.
I felt the performance was the best part, and I enjoy the main character. The beginning is a bit droll and hard to sit through, but once you're through with the exposition the story really does pickup quite a bit. Otherwise, if you're at all familiar with Zelazny, it's an interesting early work that shows the first stages of his unique style and tone. It does still feel like a novice work, however, in that his allusions are still more than a little forced, even intentionally self-conscious, but certainly without the seamless integration that is truly a hallmark of his later works. Listen to it, though, and enjoy it nonetheless.
The overall plot is a little weak I admit, meaning the trope from the time of the book's first publishing is a little threadbare. Zelazny's ending surprised me though. However, The prose is pure Zelazny and by that I mean pure poetry. The words of Zelazny makes the journey worth the price of the ticket. I've read it once, but didn't really appreciate it until I heard Victor Bevine's fine narration. Moving.
Although this is a classic, it's one of the few older sci-fi stories that isn't too dated, as the setting is a post-nuclear war Earth at some indefinite point in the future and all the technology is vague and generically futuristic (like "skimmers"). It's the characters where Zelazny exercised his imagination. Earth is now overrun by mutants who resemble creatures out of myth, and the main character, Conrad, appears to be an immortal and may even be a god. He's a typical Zelazny main character: mysterious, complicated, immortal and superhuman but not invincible, and fundamentally heroic but kind of an a-hole.
All of the characters are interesting in this book, especially Conrad's friend, the assassin Hassan, and I particularly liked the dialog and the action scenes. Zelazny has always been good at writing great fight scenes.
The story wasn't perfect -- a lot of things were just dropped in without explanation, and it seemed a lot of plot points were just handwaved away. But if you like Zelazny or good old fashioned science fiction written much better than most Sixties sci-fi, it's worth a read.
When Zelazny was good, he was great. I love the way that he combined science fiction, Classical mythology, and more recent Greek folklore. I love the little vignettes about Nomikos' past, like Hassan talking about the boxing match with the Vegan, the story about him breaking the neck of the Spiderbat, etc. Zelazny had a great feel for mythologizing, as well as for the myths. Some of the metaphors are a little jarring, but this was written in the 60's, after all.
On the other hand, I don't think I've ever known a writer to lose it all so suddenly. He reminds me of Tom Watson after he just suddenly lost the ability to putt. I think it started around the time of the publication of "Eye of Cat." After then, Zelazny never really had it again, and pissed away his time writing that "Amber" drivel. Still, he probably made more money as a hack than he did when he was at the peak of his powers, which I'm glad for because he left us some great stuff.
The audiobook is great to listen to at the gym. It's the kind of stuff that really makes you push yourself. The narrator is fine, and does a particularly good Vegan.
"Is Zelazny being forgotten?"
Zelazny has always been a strange mixture of Hemmingway and Fantasy. He evokes a picture of a ravished world where his (anii-)hero has become an anachronism. If you like this book then be sure to read his Nine Princes in Amber series.
A well written story with a suitable narrator.
"Oldie but goodie"
I loved this. Short by my preferences, but interesting, textured and with a very satisfying ending.
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