Roger Zelazny

On this date in 1937, Roger Zelazny was born in Euclid, Ohio. Zelazny received his B.A. in English Literature from Western Reserve University. He went on to study Elizabethan and Jacobean drama at Columbia, where he graduated with a master's in English and Comparative Literature. Zelazny’s writing career blossomed in the early 1960s. All of Zelazny's shorter works have been published in a six volume set (The Collected Stories of Roger Zelazny) by NESFA Press (2009). The set includes an integrated biography (… And Call Me Roger) by Christopher S. Kovacs, MD. Zelazny was also famous for his novels. Perhaps the best known were the two Amber series, comprised of five novels each. Though death cut short his career, awards for his writing were impressive. They included three Nebulas (out of 14 Nebula nominations), six Hugos (out of 14 Hugo nominations), two Locus Awards, two Seiun awards, and one Prix Tour-Apollo award.

Zelazny had a fascination with mysticism and was an expert on religion and mythology. In fact, he frequently employed myth as a basis for his stories, including the seasonal death and resurrection themes that often characterized gods. Not prone to sharing details of his personal life, people speculated about what Zelazny believed in and if it was reflected in his writings. However, he once stated in an interview: “I did have a strong Catholic background, but I am not a Catholic. Somewhere in the past, I believe I answered in the affirmative once for strange and complicated reasons. But I am not a member of any organized religion. If you mention my Catholic background, I hope you also mention that I became a retired Catholic at age 16. I do not consider myself a Christian." D. 1995.

Madrak: Insofar as I may be heard by anything, which may or may not care what I say, I ask, if it matters, that you be forgiven for anything you may have done or failed to do which requires forgiveness. Conversely, if not forgiveness but something else may be required to insure any possible benefit for which you may be eligible after the destruction of your body, I ask that this, whatever it may be, be granted or withheld, as the case may be, in such a manner as to ensure your receiving said benefit. I ask this in my capacity as your elected intermediary between yourself and that which may not be yourself, but which may have an interest in the matter of your receiving as much as it is possible for you to receive of this thing, and which may in some way be influenced by this ceremony. Amen.
Madrak: Then into the hands of Whatever May Be that is greater than life or death, I resign myself – if this act will be of any assistance in preserving my life. If it will not, I do not. If my saying this thing is at all presumptuous, and therefore not well received by Whatever may or may not care to listen, then I withdraw the statement and ask forgiveness, if this thing be desired. If not, I do not. On the other hand—
Companion: Amen! And silence, please!

—The Agnostic’s Prayer, Vol. 1 of The Collected Stories of Roger Zelazny

Compiled by Dean Schramm

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