“The Last Hurrah”

Last time out, the trivia question was: One other writer was just breaking into the field at that time and went up against Zelazny for a number of the awards above [Hugo & Nebula]. Who was that writer and what awards did he win? The answer of course, will be next time.

And the answer is, Samuel R. (Chip) Delaney. At the time, I was just beginning to really start reading and collecting Science Fiction and the two writers are inevitably linked together in my mind because it seemed to me that they were always fighting it out for the top honors, with almost no one else in contention, which wasn’t true by any means. See [footnote 1] for the list Hugos & Nebulas they acquired or were nominated for between 1962 and 1975. You can see what I mean.

As you are no doubt aware, this is the last issue of Dark Moon Rising and, consequently, the last of the Books of Distinction columns that I’ll do. It’s been a lot of fun, it gave me a reason to poke around in bookstores and on the web, and a flimsy excuse to buy copies of books I’ve always wanted to buy but couldn’t justify either to myself or to my very patient wife, Susan. I’ve learned quite a bit as well.

One of the things I’ve relearned, though, is more important than any of the other things I’ve learned by reading up on the life and works of SF, Fantasy and Horror writers of this last century. It is this: A book is only worthwhile if it is read.

That may not seem like much of a revelation but truth to tell, I have never offered revelations in any of my writing. I doubt that I ever will, be the writing I do be fiction or fact, essay or diatribe, Murphy’s law or book review. I’m not that smart and I’m certainly not that pleased with myself to make such a claim.

No, it’s a revelation to me because in this age of electronic mail, DVD’s and Print-On-Demand books, it’s even more true than ever before, because there is such a glut of books to be chosen from. If I could offer only one bit of advice to any reader, it would be this: Read books that you enjoy. Do not read books that you find yourself bogged down in or feel that they are a duty or requirement to read before one can say one is educated. You do not have the time to spare, believe me.

That goes for my own books as well. Give them a try by all means but if you’re not enjoying the book, do both of us a favor and move on to something else. I think you owe it not only to yourself, but to other writers who do have a voice that sings for you.

Give nut cases like Hunter Thompson a chance, occasionally. Don’t buy and read trash about or by that walking victimless crime, Paris Hilton. Don’t read Pilgrim’s Progress because someone has said it’s a great book. (It is, but terminally strange, believe me.)

In this last column, I’ll give a list of the books that have been the most important and influential with me, personally. The ones that I still reread; the ones that changed my life in some way; the ones that I love the most. I’ll not limit myself to the three genres of Science Fiction, Fantasy and Horror, either. I admit that most of them will be in those genres because I love such books in general. They are my preferred reading material, though of late, I find I’m reading much more nonfiction than fiction. Science and history, mostly.

So, my top list (and not in any particular order after the top ten):

In closing, I’d like to thank all of you. I had a wonderful time and I enjoyed the notes and comments. You folks have been a great audience, as the saying goes and I bless you for taking the time out to read what weird offerings I have had.

. . . and that, folks, is a wrap . . .

* * * *

Footnote 1:


Nominated Nebula Novella “The Ballad of Beta-2” Delaney


Nominated Hugo Short Story “A Rose for Ecclesiastes” Zelazny


Winner Nebula Novelette “The Doors of His Face, the Lamps of His Mouth” Zelazny
Winner Nebula Novella “He Who Shapes” Zelazny
Nominated Nebula Short Story “Devil Car” Zelazny


Winner Hugo Novel This Immortal or ...And Call Me Conrad Zelazny (tie)
Nominated Hugo Short Story “The Doors of His Face, the Lamps of His Mouth” Zelazny
Nominated Nebula Novelette “For a Breath I Tarry” Zelazny
Nominated Nebula Novelette “This Moment of the Storm” Zelazny
Nominated Hugo Novel Babel-17 Delaney (tie)
Winner Nebula Novel Babel-17 Delaney


Nominated Hugo Novelette “For a Breath I Tarry” Zelazny
Nominated Hugo Novelette “This Moment of the Storm” Zelazny
Nominated Hugo Short Story “Comes Now the Power” Zelazny
Nominated Nebula Novel Lord of Light Zelazny
Nominated Nebula Novelette “The Keys to December” Zelazny
Nominated Nebula Novelette “This Mortal Mountain” Zelazny
Winner Nebula Novel The Einstein Intersection Delaney
Winner Nebula Short Story “Aye, and Gomorrah” Delaney
Nominated Nebula Short Story “Driftglass” Delaney


Winner Hugo Novel Lord of Light Zelazny
Nominated Hugo Novella “Damnation Alley”[footnote 4] Zelazny
Nominated Hugo Novel The Einstein Intersection Delaney
Nominated Hugo Novella “The Star-Pit” Delaney
Winner Hugo Short Story “Aye, and Gomorrah” Delaney
Nominated Nebula Novella “Lines of Power” Delaney


Nominated Hugo Novel Nova Delaney
Winner Nebula Novel Isle of the Dead Zelazny
Nominated Hugo Novella “Lines of Power” Delaney
Winner Nebula Novelette “Time Considered as a Helix of Semi-Precious Stones” Delaney


Winner Hugo Novelette “Time Considered as a Helix of Semi-Precious Stones” Delaney


Nominated Hugo Novel Jack of Shadows Zelazny


Nominated Nebula Short Story “The Engine at Heartspring's Center” Zelazny


Nominated Nebula Novel Doorways in the Sand Zelazny
Winner Nebula Novella “Home is the Hangman” Zelazny
Nominated Nebula Novel Dhalgren Delaney


Footnote 2: Hour of the Dragon is not great literature. It’s pure escapist fun. Please keep in mind that this list is not a list of the great works of literature. These are books that have a special meaning to me, or books that taught me something at a time I needed to learn that something. Most importantly, these are books that I can say, without fear of being mistaken, that I will reread again in the future. How far off may be hard to say, but I will reread them again. All of these books are also books I’ve read more than five or six times already. I suppose you could say that the reason they’re important to me is because they’ve been a part of my life for a long time.


Footnote 3: Kafka could properly be placed under either the horror or fantasy genres. He generally isn’t though I’m not exactly sure why. The same can be said (though less forcefully) of Nikolai Gogol.


Footnote 4: “Damnation Alley” (1977) was made into a movie starring George Peppard, if memory serves. I dimly recall seeing it at a drive-in long ago. As I also recall, it was horrible, though by now, it probably would come across as campy. If you can find a copy of it, go ahead and rent it. Let me know if it has finally achieved camp-quality through the mysteries of time dilution ...


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