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The Doors of His Face, The Lamps of His Mouth and Other Stories

4.07  ·  Rating Details ·  3,155 Ratings  ·  80 Reviews
Here are strange, beautiful stories covering the full spectrum of the late Roger Zelazny's remarkable talents. He had a rare ability to mix the dream-like, disturbing imagery of fantasy with the real-life hardware of science fiction. His vivid imagination and fine prose made him one of the most highly acclaimed writers in his field. Three times he won the Nebula Award, and ...more
Paperback, 252 pages
Published 1974 by Avon (first published March 1965)
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Jul 15, 2012 Carol. rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Zelazny fans, short story fans
Zelazny was a master at the short, novelette and novella (rather a pity, since his world-building often leaves me wanting much more) and this collection almost consistently kicked my mental butt for his exploration of humanity and his creativity. His use of language is impressive; he can write concisely, clear-cutting to a quiet moment in the middle of a hurricane, or he can weave together words to perfectly describe an alien sunrise. There is tone of melancholy running through these stories, th ...more
I used to think I loved Roger Zelazny's writing. After trying out a few more of his books, I realized that it was THIS collection in particular that I loved. Nothing else of his that I've read has measured up, although I keep hoping I'll stumble on something I like just as much.

The stores cover a lot of ground, with sentient cars, a hunt for a leviathan, aliens, and some misunderstandings. "The Keys to December" ranks up there as one of my favorite short-stories. (It's about a genetically-engine
Dec 20, 2008 Manny rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: science-fiction
I last looked at this collection 35 years ago and I can still remember at least half of them, so I conclude that it must be pretty good.

I think I liked the love stories most: "A Rose for Ecclesiastes", where the Earth poet visits the doomed Martian society and falls in love with their priestess, and "The Man Who Loved The Faioli", in which Zelazny pulls off the near-impossible feat of creating a moving romance between a vampire and a cyborg. Really, I'm not being ironic! He was one of the brigh
Fisher, climber, cowboy romanticism, terraforming, a proto-amber and other stories.

My favourite ★★★★★ story was

A Rose for Ecclesiaste

No ★ or  ★★ for me were

The Great Slow Kings


★★★★ for The Doors of His Face, the Lamps of His Mouth • (1965) • fisher story on Old Venus -  review
★★★1/2 for The Keys to December • (1966) • terraforming for Cold Cats - review
★★★ for Devil Car • (1965) • Wild West romanticism with A.I. cars -  review
★★★★★ • A Rose for Ecclesiastes • (
Oct 20, 2015 Abhishek rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I decided to give this collection a try after reading, and liking, Lord of Light. In the short stories here, Zelazny maintains a brash, belligerent style, and a preference for smug, egocentric, cigarette-smoke blowing narrators. His language, though colorful and poetic, is hard to follow most of the time, and I ended up reading and rereading parts to get a grip on the going ons. Well, not all stories are at the same level of density, but most of them rank pretty high up there. It was infuriating ...more
Jul 07, 2013 Jan rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is the first work of Zelazny's I've read. I'm not all that impressed by the inventiveness of the plots; what stuck with me was the astonishing, highly poetic, sometimes almost biblical or prophetic language and imagery. This is a writer.
May 13, 2010 Alazzar rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I'm generally not a sci-fi guy, but I'm definitely a Zelazny guy. And, of course, Zelazny managed to make me like sci-fi with this book, because he's just that good.

I could give a general review for the book, but I think I'll just go story-by-story instead (mostly so I can remember what they're all about when the memories of reading this collection leave my mind in about 3 months).

1. The Doors of His Face, the Lamps of His Mouth: One of my favorite stories in the book, if not my very favorite. A
I really liked this collection, but the treatment of women as plot devices rather than characters demoted this read to three stars. Zelazny has some really interesting ideas and integrates them well with actual plots in his stories (which is not always the case with classic sci-fi). His writing style also borders on poetry at times. However, there was not one story where a female character existed in her own right; she was always present to affect the main male character (and many of these femal ...more
May 03, 2014 Alex rated it really liked it
This is a fairly comprehensive collection of Zelazny’s early short fiction.

THE DOORS OF HIS FACE, THE LAMPS OF HIS MOUTH is another example of Zelazny presenting great action. There’s also some interesting relationship commentary that can be unpacked from under the action. I suspect that in the pulp era that this story is responding to, the relationship would be reconciled by the culmination of the action, rather than the give-and-take of power. THIS MORTAL MOUNTAIN seems to be a return to this
Lovely stuff, as always. This is earlier Zelazny, prototypical and experimental, still in his development phases. Most of these stories were published in the years prior to Lord of Light, and you can see the ingredients of that novel budding in shorts like "Love Is An Imaginary Number," published in 1966, one year prior to Lord of Light. I swear, "Love" and "Lord" are essentially the same basic story, spun in different directions.

Likewise, some parallels between Devil Car and Damnation Alley, an
Yolanda Casica
Apr 23, 2014 Yolanda Casica rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: adult-lit
It took me a while to finish this only because the copy I have is 40 something years old and that apparently did not agree with my allergies. My opinion of this book did not lessen in the slightest because every time I got near it made me physically ill, in fact my opinion of it grew stronger. If it had not hooked me in, then I probably would not have picked it up and would have put it into my occasional donate pile.

I went in knowing nothing of the author's writing ability or anything about the
Sep 09, 2012 Howl rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I got a little over halfway through this awesome collection of stories (to Divine Madness) before the overdue notices started assaulting me; I took a while to get through the first story because I wasn't really familiar with Zelazny's style, but by A Rose For Ecclesiastes I was completely absorbed.

Zeleazny's writing is spectacular. I could list all the synonyms for 'spectacular', but instead of that I will just recommend that you read his descriptions of the storm, both brewing and happening, in
Mar 17, 2015 N rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: english
"[...] brainsmash and binding to this Otherwhen."

Gorgeous, expressionist stories written with a lot of love. I'm not all that used to expressionist sci-fi yet, and this was a fantastic journey into some very experimental tales.
Dated, but entertaining stories. Some very short, some more like novellas, all very good!
Mali Morsky
Feb 08, 2017 Mali Morsky rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Well... This was some journey... This is a very nice set of melancholic short stories: The whole collection invites questions of humanity, human ambition, lenght of love, fire of ambition etc. I have to admit that among my favorites are the really short ones like Corrida , Collector's Fever and Devine Madness . I would definitely recommend this book for short story lovers, Zelazny followers and as an inspirational collection of stories if writing is your interest and you would like to see the ...more
A nice collection of various ideas, which I enjoyed quite a bit. If anything, it gives an idea of the scope of Zelazny's intellect and literary prowess in tackling different themes with the same respect and elegance, ranging from the mundane to the most esoteric.
Feb 22, 2017 Delta rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2017
I can see why Zelazny is an award-winning author; he knows how to make a plot interesting.
John Wiswell
Apr 20, 2008 John Wiswell rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
My second Zelazny anthology and I'm still impressed. The style is dated, leaning very heavily on first person exposition or dialogue exposition and talking plot points to the next beat, but even that is frequently charming given how outlandish his ideas get. In "The Keys to December," a race of terraforming ocelots plot genocide or horned natives. In "The Great Slow Kings," cosmological gods take months to talk back and forth on how best to raise a species of worshippers, tough work since they k ...more
Joey Brockert
A very nice collection of short stories by Mr. Zelanzy.

'The Doors of His Face The Lamps of His Mouth' –
A fishing tale told of Venus. It is a bit confusing because the people seem to be talked of in the third person, then they appear to be the people talking, and there is a bit of a love storyu in here, too.

'The Keys to December' –
Humans have developed the ability to create life forms that can live in environments other than Earth. Some of these were created for working on a planet for a min
May 12, 2015 Annise rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
It's difficult giving a star rating to a book of short stories, because there are invariably some that I like more than others. In general, this was a very good collection, and I was toying between three and four. I marked it down for occasionally being a bit too of its time; unfair, perhaps, but the treatment of female characters in the stories varied from tolerable to terrible.

The prose throughout had an intriguing style, clear and solid, with bursts of imagery that brought the stories to lif
Nicholas Whyte[return][return]I think this was Zelazny's first published collection? Mostly stories from his peak early years in the 1960s; includes perhaps his two best pieces from that era, the title story (which I didn't like at all on first reading it as a teenager, but which has grown on me since) and "A Rose for Ecclesiastes" which remains a favourite.[return][return]The incredibly weak ending of "This Mortal Mountain" grates a bit more than before, and a couple of ...more
Paul Westwood
Once again I've left it a little too long since reading this book to remember everything I wanted to say but I'll try.
This is a collection of science fiction short stories. There is a real variety here from novella length stories to two pagers. Something about the way it's written gives it the air of 1960s science fiction though I can't put my finger on what that is. Possibly, it's the metaphysical themes and the feeling that anything and everything is possible that is captured by the richly des
Alan Rader
Aug 27, 2015 Alan Rader rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
This elegant tale, winner of the Nebula for best Novelette in 1965, has somehow not made its way into any of those "best of short stories" collections that come out year after year, always containing the same old classic titles with maybe one or two new mainstream authors included for freshness. That is a literary crime, because this story should be but is not considered a literary classic.

It is a fishing story, but the setting makes it interesting. Told by a black narrator, with elements of the

So the copy of the book I read was an audiobook recorded for the Library of Congress's Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped. Apparently that's not a version Goodreads has records of, and I can't find anything substantial about the recording online. The narrator was Eric Zwemer, and he did an amazing job with the material. The recording was done in January of 1980, and Zwemer's voice has a delightful timbre and rhythm that's both excellently suited to Zelazny's writing style, and curi

Feb 26, 2009 Aaron rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Very good collection of '60s SF stories. Having read the first few Amber novels and generally liked them, I was surprised at how much stronger some of these stories are than the series he seems to be remembered by. The twists and turns of the Amber series are certainly fun, but the writing seems much lighter in tone, possibly simplified for the masses, or per a publisher's request.

The stories served up here range from dark to humorous, but Zelazny's intellect is clearly on display. Beyond the re
This is one of my favourite short story collections. I haven't read all of Zelazny, but most of my favourites among his works are in here. (I also really liked Nine Princes in Amber.) Generally I prefer shorter short stories - twenty pages or less - but the stories in this book are an exception: the longer the better.

I doubt Zelazny wrote much that was better than these five stories:

- A Rose for Ecclesiastes
- This Moment of the Storm
- This Mortal Mountain
- The Doors of His Face, The Lamps of His
Mar 17, 2012 Shawn rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A collection of fifeteen of Zelazny's short stories, it contains many of his best pieces including the title story of obsession, redemption, and love on Venus; The Keys to December, a story of determination, loss, the price that must be paid for a world of your own; A Rose for Ecclesiastes, wherein a man of language saves an entire race and loses his own heart; Collector's Fever, a humorous warning that one should be careful what one collects; and This Moment of the Storm, that shows us just how ...more
May 26, 2009 Martin rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A nice mix of sci-fi short stories, with only a couple of very short ones. Most had a clear ending, which is something I really prefer in short stories, although a couple left the outcome completely open to interpretation.

The concept of suspended animation came up in several different stories, particularly the idea that people would become more and more disconnected from society as they went further ahead in time, resulting in unhappiness beyond any realized gains. This is probably something peo
Dec 05, 2013 Chip rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: top-200-scifi
Not as bad as I thought it would be. Zelazny is hard to read sometimes and a few of these stories are in that category. But luckily a couple or so are acceptable. The Keys to December - a story about terraforming with an accidental twist. This Mortal Mountain - a 40 miles high summit in which the mountain doesn't want to be climbed. The Great Slow Kings - two brother kings who are obscenely slow send a robot to find other life in the universe.
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Roger Zelazny made his name with a group of novellas which demonstrated just how intense an emotional charge could be generated by the stock imagery of sf; the most famous of these is A Rose for Ecclesiastes in which a poet struggles to convince dying and sterile Martians that life is worth continuing. Zelazny continued to write excellent short stories throughout his career. Most of his novels dea ...more
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“People never pay attention to weather reports; this, I believe, is a constant factor in man's psychological makeup, stemming probably from an ancient distrust of the shaman. You want them to be wrong. If they're right, then they're somehow superior, and this is even more uncomfortable than getting wet.

"This Moment of the Storm”
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