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Damnation Alley

3.56  ·  Rating Details ·  3,657 Ratings  ·  160 Reviews

Hell Tanner ... the vicious loner, last survivor of the exterminated cycle gangs, condemned to death -- with one chance for a dubious reprieve....

Damnation Alley ... the savage route across a blasted continent, teeming with monsters, deadly radiation, and insanely lethal storms....

Hell Tanner's passage through Damnation Alley is an epic which gives Roger
Paperback, S1846, 157 pages
Published June 1970 by Berkley Medallion (first published July 14th 1968)
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Mar 08, 2011 TK421 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sci-fi
Okay, this was my first full Zelazny experience, and I have to say I liked it—a lot. The story is simple enough: in a post apocalyptic America, where the country has been split into two nations, one being the Nation of California, the other being whatever the citizens of Boston have decided to call it, runs a stretch of road that has been named the Damnation Alley. Since constant hurricane force winds prevent air travel, it is the only umbilical between the two countries. Enter Hell Tanner. Hell ...more
I remember when I was a wee one, I watched the movie Damnation Alley, and I was terrified by the flesh eating cockroach scene. I’ve always wanted to see it again, because I know the film has got to be the best, craptastic, colossal turkey ever! Yay. :D

It’s not an easy movie to come by though. :(

This is one of the reasons I read the book. I wanted to read more about the cockroach scene (which isn’t in the book, damn it!) And practically everyone gives DA rave reviews.

Damnation Alley is pretty si
Dec 19, 2007 Jim rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
18Dec2014: It's been a while since I last read this & I need a Zelazny fix. I've been attempting to read half a dozen freebies & they just aren't cutting it. I was beginning to think I just didn't like reading any more, but I had trouble stopping today at lunch.

In some ways, this isn't one of Zelazny's best novels. In many ways, it's rather trite - a post apocalyptic action yarn with a anti-hero. Yawn. Except it's not. Even with the grade-b movie world, it's intriguing. Certainly a great
Henry Avila
In some unstated date in the future, a three day war occurred.Not a long one, by historical standards,but bad enough.....Missiles fall on the Earth,and life virtually ceases. Apparently around twenty or thirty years later, the few people still alive , are struggling to survive.This is when Hell Tanner(real name),biker,gangster,killer, all around bad guy, gets a pardon.He will be free as an eagle,and that bird,is no longer in existence.Neither is the United States(just a few petty states), from p ...more
Dan Schwent
Aug 19, 2008 Dan Schwent rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Fans of Post-Apoc cheese
Shelves: zelazny
Damnation Alley is about a biker named Hell Tanner who has to take some plague serum from LA to Boston, travelling a route called Damnation Alley across the nuclear wasteland that is the United States in a car that might as well be a tank. Along the way he encounters such mutants as giant Gila Monsters, spiders, bats, butterflies, and snakes.

Hell Tanner should be regarded as Snake Plissken's ancestor of sorts. Every time he had dialogue I kept hearing Kurt Russell's voice. The writing is a litt
Raegan Butcher
Apr 13, 2008 Raegan Butcher rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: cyberpunks and other virgins
When I read this I was struck by the similarities between the deal offered to Hell Tanner to run the serum thru Damnation Alley to a plague stricken Boston in order to recieve a full pardon for every criminal act he's committed in the Nation of California...hmmm. That sounds a lot like the deal offered to Snake Plissken, who seems to share a lot of other similarities with Hell Tanner, who admittedly came first in 1969.Being a big fan of Plissken's exploits I can't help but like this pulpy sci fi ...more
Dec 07, 2015 Karl rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is a post-apocalyptic novel of Southern California. Hell Tanner, an imprisoned killer, is offered a full pardon in exchange for taking on a suicide mission—a drive through "Damnation Alley" across a ruined America from Los Angeles to Bostonto deliver an urgently needed plague vaccine.

This copy is signed by Roger Zelazny.
This book was sitting in the free bin outside of 2nd and Charles and I thought - why not? It looks short. And I really liked Zelazny's A Night in the Lonesome October. Plus there's just something about a vintage 1969 paperback. These old books used to be everywhere, at every sale and every used book shop. Now they are a bit of rarity.

This is basically non-stop action. We get a little taste of Hell Tanner's character, but it's mostly non-stop action. There's been a nuclear war and the only remain
Aug 10, 2011 Bev rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Joshua Canaan
Dec 28, 2010 Joshua Canaan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
To say that this book--which prefigured both of these comparisons by a goodly distance--is a more Mad Maxy version of "The Road" is no Rolling Stone-esque hogwash, or blind youthful insistence that the contemporary is the all; it is merely and delightfully accurate. Zelazny was a brilliant writer, and the most lyrical of his genre. He and Ellison led the fine and too short-lived generation of science fiction/fantasy/horror writers who believed that the offerings of literature could be offered h ...more
Mike (the Paladin)
I gave this a 3 as a tribute to Roger Zelazny. I picked this book up after the movie and barely remember it. i have little recollection of it being that much different from the movie aside from the, convict taking on suicide mission for a pardon. Post apocalyptic America left broken up into police states. Three vehicles heading from L. A. to Boston to deliver plague vaccine across Damnation Ally. That's the part of the west/south west left a dangerous ruin.
Tough, nasty Hell's Angel with a heart of gold transports a case of vaccine across a post-Holocaust America, to save the inhabitants of plague-ravaged Boston. It's quite good if you're in the mood for that kind of thing.

As several people have pointed out, the main character rather reminds one of Snake Plissken in Escape from New York, though this novel predates the movie.

Jan 30, 2012 Paul rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Hell and Corny! This is a fairly straightforward adventure story. It's fun but I like other Zelazny stories better.

The protagonist, Hell Tanner, follows the template that many of Zelazny's men do: the chain-smoking, wise-cracking type. A couple of good moments from him really made me laugh, especially on the last page: he's about done-for but still giving people crap — that's funny. I also enjoyed the exchange with Corny about the back rub; in fact I liked their relationship all around, simple t
The novella this novel is based on is one of the best action-adventure stories ever written. I had always resisted reading the book because expanding on that virtually perfect work of pulp art always seemed kind of like bullsh*t. Well... sad to say, it is. The novel still works pretty well, but it doesn't have the tightly plotted forward momentum of the original. It feels like Zelazny just sort of added some irrelevant stuff to bulk it out. It just doesn't feel right.

The original, which is in Th
Jan 21, 2016 Bigal-sa rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: dtb
I don't think Zelazny thought the story through properly.

I just reread the book after more than 30 years and was horrified by all the holes in the storyline.
* The US was flattened, yet LA and Chicago survived, if anything, they should have been the first to go;
* These cities not only survived, but were thriving enough to build radiation/bullet-proof vehicles;
* Where did the raw materials and food come from to feed the people in these cities (and the communities that were passed through) - eg,
Nov 08, 2012 Evgeny rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: scifi
A guy on a death row is given a chance to live if he can deliver anti-plague serum from LA to Boston - he happens to be a very good driver. The problem is, this all takes place in post-apocalyptic US, and the road in question is called Damnation Alley for a reason.

Sounds fairly familiar; I can recall quite a few books and movies with the same plot. Still, this is probably one of the first books with such plot; also Roger Zelazny is a Master of science fiction even in his minor efforts (such as
Jun 10, 2009 Becky rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition apocalypse at it's BEST...ergh, i wish i could remember the epitaph the main character writes for his girl who dies along the way...something like: 'Here lies Cordelia / it might not matter to no one but she was my girl and I loved her..' Dang! Anyways, wonderful book, wonderful introduction to Zelazny - if you enjoy reading books about what happens after the world ends, you can't miss this one.
Sep 21, 2015 Elizabeth rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: ebook-own, ebook-tbr

Really boring and I literally couldn't care what was going on.
Scott Brillon
A good sci-fi actioner. A man must travel from one end of the country to the other to help some folks out. It's a fun read.
Brian Schwartz
Feb 11, 2013 Brian Schwartz rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
DAMNATION ALLEY might best be termed bubblegum science fiction. The creatures that inhabit Damnation Alley are straight out of B-movie material. The story is bereft of subplots. Hell Tanner is not a man given to flights of introspection. He has no character arc. Other than a few days of love for a woman whom he did not take the time to learn anything about, Tanner remained a passionless person, driven only by his desire to be free and his desire to drive.

Zelazny’s prose is sparse. Except for the
I picked this up at Zia Records for $0.25, mostly because it was buy Roger Zelazny. I love the The Great Book of Amber, and I had heard of this one, a post-nuclear-Apocalypse travel adventure, so I thought it could be cool (how sad is it that "Zombie Apocalypse" stuff is so trendy now, one now must specify the type of Apocalypse . . . remember when all Apocalypses in sci-fi were nuclear or biological weapons that killed rather than zombified?). Anyway, I figured if nothing else, it might be ins ...more
Jun 26, 2009 Sam rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I'm an incredible fan of "Lord of Light", another great Zelazny book. Zelazny is the king of the pulp sci-fi novel. He has clever ideas, but he doesn't get lost in his own science. His prose is terse and minimalist, like a lot of pulp. His characters, almost always stoic male types, can get lost in their own bravado, but he has good tough guy dialogue. Damnation Alley has really descriptive settings. Hell Tanner, the main character, a hell's angel badasss, drives across a post-apocalyptic United ...more
Oct 07, 2016 William rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: post-apocalyptic
I've been a Zelazny fan for more than 45 years now, and Damnation Alley was one of the first ones I read, back in around 1970. This was my first revisit to it for about 25 years, and I wish I'd done it sooner, for it's far, far, more than just a post apocalyptic tale of a biker's attempt to drive an armored truck across America.

There's moments of revelation for Hell, our anti-hero, there's poetic, majestic, sweeps in the grand Zelazny style, there's the Zelazny trademark musings on the dichotom
Incredible. My first Zelazny novel, and now I can't wait to read more. This book is pure badass, hellraising, post-apocalyptic, destructive mastery from beginning to end, written with vigor and strength, and short enough to read in a couple days. It's vast, a pinnacle of world-building, where the sprawling, magnificently horrific and perilous setting is the real star, but the dirty future outlaw hero Hell comes in a very close second. And that beast of an apocalyptic war machine he drives comes ...more
Einar Nielsen
This book is short which is always nice in the time of the 1000 page epic. It is a fast read and has good moments. The text flows well and the conversations are fine.The main protagonist is absurdly cool who makes Snake Plisskin look like a wimp and his name is Hell Tanner (I mean come on!). There are ridiculous mutants in a nuclear wasteland and unstoppable armoured cars with flamethrowers. So it isn't a very deep story. The characters aren't very deep any many of the actions scenes are finishe ...more
Mark Hodder
This novel sat on my shelves throughout my teens and early twenties and never got read. I'm happy I've finally got around to it, as I've come to much admire Zelazny. Also, this tale was the inspiration for one of my favourite Hawkwind songs, so I was vaguely embarrassed by my unfamiliarity with the source material. However, as it turns out, it feels like it could have been written by someone else. It’s good, but lacks much of what makes Zelazny special, and my interest wasn’t properly hooked unt ...more
Izzy Corbo
Sometimes I want to eat a gourmet meal and sometimes...sometimes I want to eat a hollow jelly donut (after I sucked out the jelly of course) with a Peanut buttercup stuffed inside melted in the microwave for 15 seconds (a nod to Fatso).

Damnation is jarring, politically incorrect, scientifically implausible, but oh so much fun! If you are even remotely interested in Mad Max or any of its copies you will thoroughly enjoy this romp through the post-apocalyptic landscape...modified jelly donut or no
Калоян Захариев
Като цяло не съм фен на Зелазни, но обожава пост-апокалипсисите. В "Алеята на прокълнатите" ще се срещнем именно с такъв - една опустошена Америка, в която човечеството съществува в няколко малки обитаеми островчета. Всичко останали е царство на радиацията и мутантите. Хел Търнър е най-добрия шофьор, който трябва да пропътува разстоянието между Лос Анджелис и Бостън, за да занесе ваксина срещу чумата, опустошаваща града.
Хубава история, развиваща се в един наистина мрачен свят. Нямам как да не на
Sep 08, 2010 Simon rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sf
This is a bit like a Seventies road movie, say "Vanishing Point", in a post apocalyptic setting, say "Mad Max". It's an entertaining enough story but it's not deep, a bit of SF candyfloss. Not that there's anything wrong with that. But not quite what I was expecting after the only other of Zelazny's SF I have read, Lord of Light.

Short and sweet. Not much more to be said about it really.
Jul 10, 2007 Craig rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
In this post-apocalyptic adventure, Zelazny examines many of the same themes that Heinlein explored in GLORY ROAD. It's been unfortunately dismissed by many because of the terrible film version that was loosely based on it, which is a real pity since it's a well-written, intelligent book. The last paragraph is one of the most memorable that I've encountered in any piece of literature.
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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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“No airplane could make it. Not since the war. None could venture above a couple hundred feet, the place where the winds began. The winds: the mighty winds that circled the globe, tearing off the tops of mountains and sequoia trees, wrecked buildings, gathered up birds, bats, insects, and anything else that moved, up into the dead belt; the winds that swirled about the world, lacing the skies with dark lines of debris, occasionally meeting, merging, clashing, dropping tons of rubbish wherever they came together and formed too great a mass. Air transportation was definitely out, to anywhere in the world, for these winds circled, and they never ceased. Not in all the twenty-five years of Tanner’s memory had they let up. Tanner” 0 likes
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