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Creatures of Light and Darkness by Roger Zelazny
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Jun 03, 12

Read in June, 2012

Zelazny was one of the cleverest of the SF writers emergiing from the 1960s, in the stew of New Wave, and also one of the gutsiest. "Creatures of Light and Darkness" is his riff on Egyptian mythology, set in a "future" wherein the ancient conflicts of the various gods---Anubis, Osiris, Set, Thoth, Isis, and Typhon---are once more met in an ageless attempt to establish who's in charge.

But wait! It's not quite that simple. Set the Destroyer is not just the Egyptian god, but partly Vishnu, who is engaged in an eternal struggle with the universe itself. In this case, a struggle with the Nameless One, a being that cannot die. Thoth has been trying to kill it since Set disappeared, presumed dead, the last time he fought with this being. Unsuccessfully. Freed from an amnesiac exile, Set joins in battle with it once more.

Typhon is not strictly Egyptian, either, but also Sumerian and Babylonian, the great dragon/horse that annihilates worlds, and may draw his power from the very source of all existence.

All of which culminates in a recapitulation of the birth of Jesus, with a different cast of players in the principle roles, which serves to point out how all these various myths are ultimately subsumed into each other, drawing freely across cultures to inform new myths to replace old. Zelazny's command of all these various myth cycles was admirable and he deployed them with precision, subtlety, and humor within the framework of a rousing conflict. He was unique among writers of his generation for coming nearest to perfect blendings of fantasy and science fiction and this is a masterpiece of speculative cosmogeny.
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message 1: by newlook (new) - added it

newlook that's it!... next on my reading list.... of the few books that I have read from Zelazny (This Immortal, The Dream Master, and Lord of Light), I was never disappointed... Great author!....

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