Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Candle #17: Damnation Alley

I'm all set for another candle on my Birth Year Reading Challenge cake. Having finally given up on Mary Queen of Scots ( candle for that one--although I did give it the ol' college try. Click on the title to see my review of the experience.), I switched over to Damnation Alley by Roger Zelazny. I hadn't read anything by Zelazny since, oh, maybe 1981. I remember loving the short stories in The Doors of His Face, the Lamps of His Mouth, but really couldn't tell you why I never went on to read anything else by him. I have The Last Defender of Camelot but it just sits in my TBR pile.

Absolutely enjoyed Alley--despite the raw, post-apocalyptic background and the anti-hero that was really hard to like. Is it better that a good man decline to do something for the right reasons or for a bad man to do something good for all the wrong reasons? Half-way through the story I was rooting for Hell Tanner to complete his mission even though I really didn't want him to earn his pardon. Tanner is not your usual hero. A convicted killer, cold-hearted rapist, and drug smuggler, Tanner is given the chance to have all his sins against the state forgiven if he will make the seemingly impossible cross-country journey from California to Boston to deliver much needed medication to a war-ravaged population suffering from plague. Tanner must cross through the radioactive desert, fight off giant bats and snakes, and ride out violent, unpredictable storms that can dump debris at any time in order to finish his journey.

Even though the subject matter is violent and distopic, Zelazny writes with a power and poetry that is rare in such hard-nosed science fiction. His descriptions of the journey leave no doubt about the harsh realities Tanner faces, but draws you into the story and makes you a part of that reality. Four stars out of five on Visual Bookshelf.


J.G. said...

This sounds interesting. I rather enjoy seeing if I can resist an author who tries to make me cheer for someone unlikeable.

Kathy Habel said...

Just stopping by from the Blog Hop. I'm a new follower. I've got some great giveaways this week. Hope you'll stop by to enter!
~Inspired Kathy
Over The Moon by Diane Daniels ends 9/15.
The Aristobrats by Jennifer Solow ends 9/24
The Maze Runner by James Dashner ends 10/3.

Anonymous said...

Hi, stopping by from the bloghop, certainly sounds like an interesting read

Badass Bookie said...

Hi there,

Just hopping over via hop! I love your blog, it's really neat and everything is so organised! Have a wonderful weekend and happy blogging!

Lisa (Badass Bookie) xx

redhead said...

found you through the hop, Zelazny is always a good read!!

Budd said...

I like violent anti heroes. This might be right up my ally.