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The Last Defender of Camelot

3.97 of 5 stars 3.97  ·  rating details  ·  1,393 ratings  ·  47 reviews
One of the greatest storytellers of our time, Roger Zelazny was a writer who created entire civilizations from whole cloth as masterfully as he explored humankind's place in the cosmos. From the depths of space to the depths of the human heart, from our darkest nightmares to our most fanciful dreams, Zelazny wove colorful tapestries that presented the wonders of the univer ...more
Paperback, 416 pages
Published March 1st 2002 by iBooks (first published January 1st 1980)
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(showing 1-30 of 2,052)
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Traveller
I'll probably upgrade this to a 4 later on. I'm just slightly put off by the silliness in some of the stories, like the talking dog in He Who Shapes, though of course a lot of it in the stories in general is deliberate humour.

Still, a worthwhile read for the originality and play of ideas, that sometimes crosses over into a rather pleasant wierdness.

The preoccupation with metal that occurs in many of the stories was a common preoccupation with the SF of that period, so the collection is also int
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Nikki
Roger Zelazny's The Last Defender of Camelot is a collection that, according to the back cover, 'spans the full spectrum of Zelazny's remarkable career'. I enjoyed all of them, more or less: 'He Who Shapes' was interesting, and I loved 'For a Breath I Tarry'. I could almost like Launcelot, in 'The Last Defender of Camelot', and I did rather like Morgana. It's an interesting version of Merlin.

He is, at least, very good at the short story as a form, which is more than I can say for a lot of the wr
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Jim
SF & Fantasy short stories, several of which won awards. As always, he's a great read. The title story is his take on the Arthurian Legend & is, as always, unique. Other stories take fantasy into SF & vice versa in strange ways with a deft touch. He's one of the few authors that was a master of both the novel & short story.
Alan Broz
The short story of the title is among my all-time best-ever stories. I can think of only 2 other shorts that have stayed so well in my mind through my life, and Zelazny wrote one of those as well (Unicorn Variations). It may not sit well with Camelot purists, but to me it's just amazing.
Chris
This was originally published on The Scrying Orb.

Written in the 60s and 70s, wreathed in a halo of cigarette smoke, amidst the fallout of an assured nuclear war, this collection of stories embodies an era. An era where a man could make a living writing dozens of short stories a year — filling plentiful sci-fi/fantasy magazines to the point where he needed pen names to allow multiple stories in the same issue.

Roger Zelazny’s stories follow a peculiar cosmology. Humanity is almost always extinct,
...more
Jesse
I really enjoyed this anthology. This collection includes both science fiction and fantasy stories. Zelazny gives a brief introduction to each short story and there are some great ones including The Stainless Steel Leech, The Engine at Heartspring's Center, Is There a Demon Lover in the House? and The Game Of Blood and Dust among others.

My favorite story is the novelette For A Breath I Tarry. It's set in a future after the extinction of human beings where after contemplating the differences betw
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Alex
This anthology seems to go against type. Generally the openers and closers are the heavy hitters. Here, the brutal stories seem to be packed in the middle. So don’t get discouraged. The things worth making it through.

FOR A BREATH I TARRY is such an intense apocalyptic vision. It manages to take the concept involving robots at the end of the world acting as surrogates for Adam & Eve to an emotional level I’ve never seen accomplished. I don’t know why anyone has attempted this theme since. I d
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Rebecca
Zelazny is one of the great acknowledged masters of fantasy, and a rather large gap in my coverage of the field. I thought a short story collection might make a good starting point. I have somewhat mixed feelings on these, I'm afraid. While I find Zelazny's prose to be quite poetic, I also frequently found it to be a little too purple, to the point of needlessly obscuring his plots. I also had trouble liking most of his characters, which is less of a problem in short stories, but still a problem ...more
Michael
Finished re-reading this awesome book. Roger Zelazny is one of my favorite all time authors. This contains some great short stories dating from the early 1960s to the mid 1970s.
"The Stainless Steel Leech" is the humorous story about a "werebot," a vampiric type robot that feeds off the energy of other robots in a post apocalyptic world.
"Auto Da Fe" is of course a play on words with the Inquisition's title for "Act of Faith" or the public penance of a condemned heretic usually by burning at the s
...more
Bev Hankins
The Last Defender of Camelot by Roger Zelazny is a collection of some of his best short stories and novellas. Please note that the edition I have read is the original collection put together by Zelazny himself in 1980 and NOT the later edition which has a mix of some stories found here plus various others. It is my understanding that the newer edition, while having an added bonus of including an introduction by Robert Silverburg--another luminary in the science fiction world, unfortunately remov ...more
Amber
Great cover, but this is not one of the better Zelazny short fiction collections in my opinion. I say this with a lot of respect for his writing. He pulls you in with atmosphere and intriguing concepts and fascinating references right away, and his prose is always good and easy to read, it's the endings and payoffs of many of the stories that left me (personally) unsatisfied. There's much to do about something that often comes to nothing in the end (a common problem with short fiction).

I'm not
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Jeff Seymour
Not the novel I expected but a collection of short stories from a 20th-century master. A mixture of science fiction and fantasy, with plenty of stories that blend the two. Gorgeous, efficient prose. Not a quick read, but a very satisfying one.
Yune
I've got the book club edition of the 1980 collection, which holds a different set of stories than the 2002 collection with the same title introduced by Robert Silverberg, which some brilliant person grouped as being different editions of the same book. Argh.

Zelazny's stories are wonderful for their zest and dryness, I think, and much of that can also be found in the introductions he wrote for each story. I haven't read the novelizations of any of these, and Zelany writes that he preferred the o
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Danielle
The poor quality of some of the short stories (permafrost, halfjack, Alice) is far outweighed by the strongest stories (For a Breath I Tarry, 24 Views). Definitely worth the read
Betty
A book of short stories. The first few were ok. The longer stories did not hold my interest. The title story was the last and best of the lot.
Randy
One of the best collections of short sci fi I've read to date. In fact, the best. Period.

Each of the stories is memorable in its own right. From the life-seeking quest of the robots in "For a Breath I Tarry" to the vampires ( both biological and not-so-biological) in "Stainless Steel Leech (a story replete with references both to Asimov and Harry Harrison's "Stainless Steel Rat"). Not to mention the anti-hero Hell Tanner's epic cross country nightmare in "Damnation Alley". Even the minor stories
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Dan Cowden
Zelazny was often best with the short form. And this is a pretty good selection. The title story was my favorite, and I'm glad it's now available in eBook format.
Dean Peake
A great collection of Roger Zelazny Classics!
Cheryl
Well what else is there to say than...Roger Zelazny....short stories.Excellent!!
Charles
Zelazny's poetic style is a natural fit for the short story, and when he's running on all cylinders there are few better at it. (Maybe Harlan Ellison, but he's also more likely to be depressing.) This collection provides a nice variety of stories, styles, and lengths; and only one or two of the stories tended toward mediocrity, while the rest ranged from excellent to amazing.

A must-read for Zelazny fans, and a should-read for fans of science fiction and fantasy short stories.
Traveller
I've been hesitating on this, since I haven't been sure whether to give it 3 or 4 stars. I like his fertile, even weird imagination, but here or there it became a bit too much for me in the sense that he went either into territory that became slightly obscure, or just-too- implausible, but on the other hand, isn't that what SF/speculative fantasy is all about?

I'm actually giving it 3.5 stars, the system is forcing me to round it up. :P
Jayaprakash Satyamurthy
Zelazny had such a heady, lyrical style. It's really on best display in his short fiction, I think. I've read a bunch of his novels but never focused on his short fiction before so I decided to read this collection to decide if I should invest in the comprehensive 6-volume edition of his short fiction released by NESFA. Conclusion: I must. Another potentially bankrupt-making book-buying project. Just what the doctor ordered.
Morfyndyr Mazzazzledazz
Maybe I'm just a sucker for stories about cyborgs who bullfight sentient automobiles, but I had a blast reading this book, and I suspect that Zelazny had a blast writing it. The premises sound like absurd Pixar throwaways (an energy-sucking robot befriends a vampire!), but they're written with such style and gravitas that they put thoughts into your brains in addition to grins on your lips.
Craig
Zelazny was one of the best science fiction and fantasy writers of the twentieth century, and some of his best short fiction is included here. My three favorites are "For a Breath I Tarry," the title story, and the original novella-length version of "Damnation Alley," which has my favorite last line of any story ever. Zelazny was a great one!
Robb
I haven't finished this yet, but it so far it's contained a whole bunch of sub-par stories, and a couple excellent onces (Damnation Alley, and the one after, "For a Breath I Tarry").

---

Finished now - "For a Breath I Tarry" is likely a 4 or 5, there are a couple other 4s, but the number of sub-par stories makes this book rated a 3.
Kris
A nice compilation of short stories by this trailblazer in the fields of science fiction and fantasy. Some of them might be better labeled "novella", as they were much longer than your typical short story. One of my favorites was the post-apocalyptic tale "Damnation Alley". But there wasn't a single story in here that I didn't like.
Dan Beliveau
A great book of short stories. My favorites were "For a Breath I Tarry", "The Last Defender of Camelot" and "Is There a Demon Lover in the House?". The version of "Damnation Alley" was not much different, I didn't think that the book - just shorter. Overall, a good read.
William Frost
I'm completely biased, as this is one of my favorite writers, and this collection demonstrates his range nicely. So many of his stories just pull me in, with the wordplay and the interesting characters and the cool concepts. I admit to being pretty much a fanboy.
Gergana
Zelazny has such a great talent to entwine fiction-fantasy-action with patterns from everyday life and portraits of all kinds of creatures.I just love the permanent feeling of surprise while reading his stories!
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3619
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 d ...more
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