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Doorways in the Sand

3.97  ·  Rating details ·  3,548 ratings  ·  203 reviews
The most humorous – and arguably the finest – novel by the master of inventive science fiction.

Humanity is not alone in the cosmos. The aliens have given a precious relic to the people of Earth: star-stone. But the harmony of the galaxy is endangered when they discover that the star-stone has disappeared.

Likeable Fred Cassidy is an eternal undergraduate. All he thinks
Mass Market Paperback, 240 pages
Published September 1st 1991 by Harpercollins (first published March 1976)
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Average rating 3.97  · 
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 ·  3,548 ratings  ·  203 reviews

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Apr 12, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: fans of Douglas Adams
I had forgotten this gem until a question on a Zelazny recommendation sent me to my shelves to rediscover this blend of Alice in Wonderland and crime caper. Set in an Earth very similar to our own, aliens have made contact and invited us to join the galactic federation. As a token of sincerity, we're participating in an artifact exchange, lending them culturally significant objects such as the Crown Jewels and the Mona Lisa, and receiving ambiguous alien artifacts in return. Meanwhile, Fred, a p ...more
Tadiana ✩Night Owl☽
Dec 02, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Tadiana ✩Night Owl☽ by: Evgeny
Shelves: humor, bizarrelandia
4.5 stars. In the 180 pages of this zany, funny and intelligent SF novel, Roger Zelazny tells the story of Fred Cassidy, an eternal college student doing his level best to never graduate, who gets caught up in a strange mystery of a missing alien artifact, the star-stone, which has no known purpose. Nevertheless, several players - both human and alien - are convinced that Fred knows more about the location of the star-stone than he does, and are willing to use deadly force to get an answer out o ...more
Jun 03, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Recommended to Nataliya by: carol.
You know, a part of me really wishes I could have pulled off the same trick the book's protagonist did for 13 years - remain a perpetual student supported by a cryogenically frozen uncle, free to expand my horizons, create Lobachevsky-worthy mathematical odes to beauty, and not ever having to graduate to the real adult world.
"'Let there be an end to thought. Thus do I refute Descartes.' I sprawled, not a cogito or a sum to my name."
However, when the real adult world comes equipped with aliens u
Sep 24, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: scifi
Review updated on December, 5 2017.

A group read with some of my greatest friends: Choko, Tadiana, and Sarah. I will add more people to the list when they finish their reading.

Fred Cassidy is a normal student – as normal as Zelazny’s characters can be. His uncle provided him with good money for college until he graduates if he maintains a full-time status, so no wonder that guy does everything not to. He was successful avoiding finishing the college for eighteen years changing majors just in tim
✘✘ Sarah ✘✘ (former Nefarious Breeder of Murderous Crustaceans)
Actual rating: 18 stars. More or less.

This book is impossible to review. Okay, so my buddy reading colleagues seem to have managed it, but that's only because they sold their soul to the devil in exchange for inspiration are superiorly intelligent, while I am naught but a lowly, somewhat fishbrained crustacean. So if you want to read an actual review for this book, take a trip to Our Lord and Master's Canadian Sugar Shack, My Super Hot Dearest of Wives' Most Titillating Abode or The Obscure Bir
Dec 03, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sci-fi-fantasy
*** 5 +++ ***

Yeah, we are the Roger Zelazny Newbies Group and I wonder what has taken me so long to read any of his stuff!!!

"..."Enter, pray."
"In which order?"
O bless this house, by all means, first. It could use a little grace."
"Bless," I said, stepping in.”..."

I am not sure how to start this review, nor what to write really... So, the blessing seemed like a good way to enter:) I loved every second of this book! Every page, every chapter and every sentence! I even loved the inconsistencies
Mar 26, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: sci-fi, 2016-shelf
What the heck! I'm not an acrophiliac perpetual-student with a penchant for pilfering sentient stones, but after re-reading this book, I kinda want to be. :)

If managing to avoid getting a degree in 13 years while still maintaining a full course load can be considered a special kind of genius, then our MC has it, but wait! This is just the beginning.

Zelazny writes beautifully, with curious and curiouser language, puns, poetry, and slight perfidy, if the last line in the novel is anything to judg
Dan Schwent
Jan 10, 2009 rated it really liked it
Shelves: zelazny
Where do I start?

Fred Cassidy is a college student and has been for the past 17 years due to a loophole in his late uncle's will. Fred is a compulsive climber and a thorn in the side of the administration who would like nothing more than for him to graduate so they can get on with their lives. Long story short, an alien artifact goes missing and a lot of people think Fred has it. The rest of the book is the quest to find the star stone and stay alive. Thankfully, Fred has help in the form of a t
Evelina | AvalinahsBooks
5 Reasons To Read Doorways in the Sand: (you can also read this post on my blog.)

Reason #1. We Are Talking Assassin's Creed + Scifi Here

The main character climbs buildings to relax. You could find him on the roof of a university campus building on a quiet evening any day. In fact, the campus has even come up with specific rules regarding this, because of him. I don't know about you, but it only makes me think of this:

Reason #2. Oh My Gosh, The Aliens!

They are so refreshing! The alien
Caro the Helmet Lady
Well, here comes the unpopular opinion!
I didn't love this book and I'm kinda upset about it, because I love Zelazny, but it just didn't work for me this time. I had some seriously high expectations that got kicked in the butt.
The fact that the story started making sense somewhere in the middle of its second part didn't please me at all. However, there were many things to keep my interest - the kangaroo and Co. was great, the ideas awesome, especially great was the (view spoiler)
Dec 19, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Reread Apr2011: Still a good, fun read. I was sick & needed something upbeat & relaxing. Zelazny to the rescue again. I don't know how many times I've read this, but each time his poetic prose & wry sense of humor have made it a treat.

Dec2007: One of my favorite books by one of my favorite authors. It's an action packed mystery SF. Our hero, Fred, is as average as any Zelazny character - that is to say while he has no extraordinary powers, his sanity, habits & life philosophy aren't strictly nor
Algernon (Darth Anyan)
Mar 14, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2013

... or as I like to call it now that I'm finished: Romancing the Star Stone , for it reminds me of the Michael Douglas / Katleen Turner crime caper with its tongue-in-cheek approach and its lively pacing. A priceless alien artefact in the shape of a gemstone has been stolen and the last person to have seen it is Fred Cassidy - a perpetual student who has managed to avoid graduation for 13 years, and who suffers from a rare affliction called acrophilia. Meaning he likes to climb things , preferr
Oct 08, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: sci-fi, fantasy

What an interesting and bizarre novel packed tightly into 200 pages of peculiar fun! This is my first Zelazny and I don't think I was prepared for what I got but I went along with it and certainly enjoyed the ride.

I've heard many things about the author and had wanted to give him a shot and this one fell onto my radar a number of years ago after some excellent reviews so I went with this one. The plot could be summed up simplistically but it wouldn't do justice to the layers added throughout
Permanent student and acrophiliac Fred Cassidy (he's managed to stay in college for 13 years so far, without getting kicked out despite climbing every building on campus) gets pulled into an intergalactic thriller when an artifact shared as part of a goodwill mission between aliens and humans goes missing.
And in typical Zelazny fashion, Fred and the reader are off on a wild, twisting ride to the finish line.

This story makes use of a sort of flash-forward-then-rewind narrative device which is
Amy (Other Amy)
"I'm going to go down there first thing in the morning and punch him in the eye!"
"Will that solve anything?"
"No, but revenge fits in with the classic life-style."

2015 is going to go down in my personal history as the year of awesome books. I am like a kid in a candy store here, running down the aisles with armfuls of treasure. I could tell you that I am giving this five stars (thinking about six) because I review things for what they are and this little beauty transcends all its genres to become
Daniel Kloke
Jan 03, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Doorways in the Sand came highly recommended from a person who has great taste in books (Carol - you probably know the one on this site). I wholeheartedly agree.

The storyline is deceptively constructed. The story flows from clever to the absurd and back without missing a beat. It is a comedy first but without the normal laugh track (or the author deliberately punctuating every joke). As such, it is a great and easy read which gives a false impression of simplicity. I wish I could write like this
Sep 21, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Doorways in the Sand is one of my favorite Zelazny novels; I think it tends to be sadly overlooked in the wake of his classic award-winners and the Amber books, and because it had a really poor cover upon its initial release. The plot is as complex and captivating as his earlier works, but doesn't seem to be because of a wide streak of humor. (He makes it look easy, that's what I'm saying!) It's a fun tour of imaginative worlds, with good characterization and the lyrical prose that was his stron ...more
Mar 31, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I just don’t get how he does it.

No matter how many Zelazny stories I read, he still finds a way to surprise and amaze me. I simply cannot fathom how he keeps track of so many characters and creates plot twists that are entirely unpredictable yet still believable within the frame of the story. And then, just when you think you have everything figured out, more information is unveiled and your appreciation for the masterful storytelling increases a thousand fold.

I really don’t know what else to sa
Jan 22, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
3.5 stars. The first 2/3 of the book are great fun, light science fiction with good solid science. Unfortunately, the last 1/3 is pretty contrived and over-the-top.

Reminds me of a student friend of mine at MIT in the 1970s, Russ W., who also managed to never quite graduate for many, many years!

Nice quote
"As a student of business administration, I know that there is a law of evolution for organizations as stringent and inevitable as anything in life. The longer one exists, the more it grinds out
Quintin Zimmermann
Sep 22, 2017 rated it really liked it
First a confession - I am one of the few that hasn't enjoyed the stylistic humour of the venerable Douglas Adams and Terry Pratchett. So when I encounter a talking wombat and kangaroo offering a peanut butter sandwich, I am on shaky ground.

Fortunately, Roger Zelazny weaves together a wonderful narrative with insightful humour and wordplay that both provokes and entertains the reader in equal measure.

Zelazny employs an unusual narrative device in the structuring of the story - each chapter jump
Aug 08, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I have to say that this is only the second novel I read by Zelazny, but I found it funny and engaging, although often slightly surreal.

The story is focused on Fred Cassidy, eternal university student, with the obsession to scale buildings at all hours of day and night and the innate ability to be able to avoid the degree. Suddenly, he finds himself in the middle of a mystery that revolves around a stone of alien origins, the State Department and two shady and not well identified bad guys.

I liked
Dec 07, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
First Hardcover Edition signed by Roger Zelazny.
Peter Tillman
I didn't get far with this one, as the (alleged) humor just wasn't working for me. Zelazny has always been a hit-or-miss author for me. This was a definite "miss."
Keith Currie
Dec 19, 2013 rated it really liked it
I first read this novel more than thirty years ago when I was a teenager and Zelazny was my science fiction hero. I never thought this to be among the best of his novels and did wonder if after such a gap of time I would still enjoy it. The answer is a resounding yes! Witty, inventive and intelligent at all times, the book has stood the test of time. Funny now, to read of a world where aliens have made contact but which still uses old fashioned telephones and the internet is unknown. Still, it i ...more
Ivonne Rovira
Jul 10, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: suspense lovers
Recommended to Ivonne by: NetGalley
Some elements of Roger Zelazny’s Doorways in the Sand haven’t aged well in the 40 years since it was first published. Protagonist Fred Cassidy lives in a world that has, on the one hand, made contact with alien life forms, but, on the other, contains lots of chain-smoking; no 24/7 news channels, fax machines or Internet; and nothing but landline telephones — jarring to 21st century readers. But Zelazny more than makes up for those near-anachronisms by sending readers on a roller coaster of a rid ...more
Mar 03, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2016, science-fiction
4.5 stars

This is my first Roger Zelazny, and I wasn't sure what to expect, but boy was it fun. The main character, Fred Cassidy, had a charming, clever voice, and I laughed out loud a lot while reading this.
As much as I loved Fred, the aliens are what delighted me the most about this book--their sometimes wobbly grasp of English and the telepathic doctor who practiced "assault therapy."
There was a mystery too, and the solution was unpredictable and perfect.
Zelazny lost me a couple of times wit
Phil Jensen
Zelazny in comedy mode! Unlike most tongue-in-cheek novels, this tale also delivers on cleverness. A series of mysteries and creative ideas interlock and eventually make sense in the end. There is suspense, and it is more of an adventure story than a comedy story, but only just. The typical Zelazny elements are here- clever allusions, laconic narration, and a lovable rogue protagonist. Each chapter begins by jumping forward into an exciting and confusing moment, then switching to flashback to ex ...more
Erik Graff
Aug 03, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Zelazny fans
Recommended to Erik by: no one
Shelves: sf
I read this as an academic dean at Loyola University Chicago and loved the part with Fred Cassidy, the perpetual undergraduate, and Dennis Wexworth, his academic advisor, trying to outwit one another. I rarely laugh aloud when reading and don't find much humor humorous, but this little piece of silly sf fluff was an exception.
Apr 03, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: science-fiction
Read this after Jo Walton’s rec on Tor. I agree that the style can be wearisome which is why it took me so long to finish it, but I love the character and his approach to (higher) education. And the language is delightful as well.
Oct 09, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: reviewed, sci-fi, aliens
A wacky, playful,  sci-fi book that doesn't take itself too seriously.   Fred has been a perpetual student supported by funds from his cryogenic-frozen uncle.    An alien artefact "the starstone gem" goes missing and everyone thinks Fred has it, including the aliens.  What ensues is an adventure through multiple realities as we follow Fred's quest to find the starstone and stay alive.

The main character Fred is amusingly eccentric and we are treated to the zany banter that goes on through his hea
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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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