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The Doors of His Face, the Lamps of His Mouth

4.08  ·  Rating details ·  3,674 ratings  ·  124 reviews
Here are strange, beautiful stories covering the full spectrum of the late Roger Zelazny's remarkable talents. In Doors of His Face, The Lamps of His Mouth, Zelazny's rare ability to mix the dream-like, disturbing imagery of fantasy with the real-life hardware of science fiction is on full display. His vivid imagination and fine prose made him one of the most highly acclai ...more
512 pages
Published 2005 (first published March 1965)
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Jul 15, 2012 rated it really liked it
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
Sep 12, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: scifi
An excellent collection of short stories from one of the greatest science fiction writers. There are 17 of them and it would take a lot of space to give brief outlines for all. I would like to give my thoughts on some.

The Keys to December. Really good with very interesting and gripping plot.

Devil Car. At the time the story was written the idea of sentient cars seemed pretty ridiculous. Now with every car equipped with a computer and emergence of self-driving cars that idea no longer look ridic
Sep 17, 2020 rated it really liked it
I've generally found Zelazny's shorter fiction hit or miss. His writing is elegant and there's typically a deeply human theme behind his stories that can make them resonate, if they succeed in making a connection with the reader. I failed to connect with a number of stories in this collection, but found some gems as well, including The Keys to December and The Man Who Loved the Faioli, both of which I'd give 5 stars.

The Keys to December is sublimely executed, with a brilliant, deeply introspecti
Dec 20, 2008 rated it really liked it
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
The Doors of His Face, the Lamps of His Mouth • (1965) • novelette (*)
The Keys to December • (1966) • novelette (**)
Devil Car • [Sam Murdock] • (1965) • short story (**)
A Rose for Ecclesiastes • (1963) • novelette (*)
The Monster and the Maiden • (1964) • short story (**)
Collector's Fever • (1964) • short story (*)
This Mortal Mountain • (1967) • novelette (previously read online)
This Moment of the Storm • (1966) • novelette (**)
The Great Slow Kings • (1963) • short story (*)
A Museum Piece • (1963
Jul 10, 2010 rated it it was amazing
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
May 31, 2017 rated it really liked it
There are some stories I like less than others but the ones I loved more than compensated for those. It's a testament to how well-conceived and well-written the stories are that they don't feel dated despite being obvious false representations of what is now present day.

One note - there are a LOT of typos in this edition. Not any that prevent understanding, but a very noticeable amount nonetheless. Otherwise the book is nicely laid out.

Highlights include

The Keys To December - Wherein a race of
Apr 12, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I am constantly amazed at just how good Roger Zelazny's writing is. Every time I read another one of his books, my own writing takes a climb upward. His ability at world-building, to describe scenes, and to create truly alien creatures, is unparalleled.
In this book of short stories, novelettes, and novellas, he does not disappoint. In fact, it may be, as some others have said, his best writing. I was particularly struck in this collection, by the title piece, The Doors of His Face, the Lamps of
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 Ecclesias
Michael Burnam-Fink
Dec 04, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2017, sci-fi
Few authors are as like themselves as Roger Zelazny, and as hard to explain why they are like themselves. This collection encompasses the short fiction of the middle 1960s, when Zelazny was at the height of his power (his two novel Hugos were awarded in this time.) The stories are lyrical meditations on great themes of life, death, change, and small moments of humanity in the face of the absolute powers of the universe.

The stories are all solid, but the clear standout is "A Rose for Ecclesiaste
Alan Rader
Aug 27, 2015 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
Jul 07, 2013 rated it it was amazing
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 rated it it was amazing
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
May 03, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Feb 16, 2012 rated it liked it
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 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
Feb 26, 2009 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
Sep 09, 2012 rated it it was amazing
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
Oct 20, 2015 rated it really liked it
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
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
Mar 17, 2015 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.
Aug 16, 2014 rated it really liked it
Dated, but entertaining stories. Some very short, some more like novellas, all very good!
My first full reading of (a collection of works by) Roger Zelazny, whose name gets thrown around as One of the Good Ones in 60s/70s sf. As this is a short-story collection, I'll give each one a rating out of 5 and then take a slightly weighted average for the whole book.

"The Doors of His Face, The Lamps of His Mouth" ★★★ | Got a bunch of nominations for the Nebula and Hugo awards (it won the '65 Nebula for Best Novelette). Not sure I agree. The setting (waterworld Venus, an intentional diversion
William Leight
Dec 08, 2013 rated it liked it
The title story gives the game away when our hero (played by Humphrey Bogart) explains that the publicity company for the expedition he is about to go on wants to get footage of him walking up to the garage “like in a 20th-century movie”. A former millionaire playboy reduced to a waterfront drifter after the failure of his expedition to catch the largest fish in existence, he has been hired by the actress Jean Luharich (played by Lauren Bacall) — to whom he was briefly married in his previous li ...more
This is one of the best collections I've read as far as the stories being consistently good to great. Below is a short blurb about each story. There may be spoilers there.

Corrida (6.5) Bullfighting, you’re the bull, Satan's the toreador.

The Man Who Loved the Faioli (7.0) I don't really get it but it was just so damn cool. Robot graveyard keeper gets together with life draining, angel/slut of death.

The Monster and the Maiden (7.0) Sacrifice a dragon to a human. Pretty funny, very short like a jok
Aug 06, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
The Door of His Face, etc, is a collection of 15 stories by Roger Zelazny, most of them are spacey, a few aren't. I avoid the term "sci-fi" because they really aren't. The plots are by and large retarded, covering hot topics like whaling on Venus, rebellious demon cars, and mountaineering in the age of faster-than-light travel. The characters tend to be pulp/hollywood archetypes (with a few exceptions). On the surface, then, the stories don't seem to have much to offer, were it not for the autho ...more
Sep 05, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Continuing my (re-)reading of the Zelazny oeuvre. This is his first collection of short fiction, although it reprints two stories (the title story and "A Rose for Ecclesiastes") that were previously collected in Four For Tomorrow. My only disappointment here was that Zelazny didn't include any introductions to the stories as he did often in later collections (and I always appreciate the insight into his writing). The stories herein run a gambit from straight up fantasy to hard science fiction, f ...more
Dec 13, 2018 rated it it was ok
This collection contains Zelazny's earliest stories. As such it contains some very good, some adequate, and some poor stories. Zelazny's best strength is in creating story concepts, but major weaknesses is his writing of female characters, and sometimes failing to do his concept justice.

The Doors of His Face, the Lamps of His Mouth, was apparently intended by Zelazny to be titled The Leviathan of Venus, a much more apt title. It is about an attempt to capture a giant sea creature inhabiting the
Lin L Barrett
Sep 09, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Loved this book for a long time. You might, too

I've had multiple physical copies of "Doors." It's a little uneven, but Zelazny sub-par is better than most other writers at their best.
The strongest stories are offered at the beginning of the book: three of the first four are exquisite, including the astonishing "A Rose for Ecclesiastes." After that, the tone set is less poetic, though Zelazny's imagination was never less than both multilayered and extraordinary. He wrote one of the two funniest s
Carl Barlow
Oct 11, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I've somehow managed to read very little of this highly regarded author's work - after TDoHFtLoHMaOS, I will be looking to rectify this.

Tales told for the love of telling tales. A wide variation in subject matters and styles, with lengths ranging from throw-away five minute jobs to novellas. There's the melancholy (and the outride sad), the love story (unrequited, the happier sort, the lost), the adventure (hunts, climbs, floods), the comedic (where the joke is told, explored, but isn't allowed
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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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