Doorways in the Sand discussion

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Doorways in the Sand > Ready, set, go! (initial thoughts through Chapter 3)

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message 1: by carol. (new)

carol. | 89 comments Mod
Initial thoughts?


message 2: by Bradley (new)

Bradley (arctunn) | 20 comments Just excited to get reading, really. :)

He was such an interesting man. I sat in on his reading of A Night in the Lonesome October and he was so enthusiastic he got up on the table and did all the characters in voices.

He was pretty far with his cancer at the time, he had lost a lot of weight, but he was so damn full of life.

Of course I'm excited to read one of his best novels again. :) Well, I still love Lord of Light best, but his imagination is tops. :)


message 3: by carol. (new)

carol. | 89 comments Mod
Oh my goodness, what an experience, Brad. I think watching him perform October would have been amazing.


message 4: by Bradley (new)

Bradley (arctunn) | 20 comments I didn't know much about him at the time, unfortunately, but it was very memorable and of course I had to dive into his works soon after. :)


message 5: by Karl (last edited Mar 21, 2016 01:10PM) (new)

Karl Plot Summary: "Doorways In The Sand"

First Appearance "Analog Science Fiction- Science Fact" June, July, August 1975,

First Published Hardcover 1976 / Harper & Row / 181 pages

--- CAUTION POSSIBLE SPOILERS ---

The will of Fred Cassidy’s cryogenically-frozen uncle provides him with a generous stipend to attend the university until he is awarded an academic degree. By carefully choosing his courses and changing majors, Fred avoids mandatory graduation for thirteen years. (view spoiler)


message 6: by carol. (new)

carol. | 89 comments Mod
Oh, you might want to spoiler that one, Karl. I think most of the people I invited have read it, but some haven't.

Although half the beauty for me in the book are the ideas and the language. I read it for plot the first time, and i didn't enjoy it as much as subsequent reads, when I had more life/reading under my belt and could appreciate references and the like. "Not a cognito or a sum to my name" *giggle*

I'm hoping one of you is better at math than I am--my review mentions some sort of math puzzle I didn't get.


message 7: by Karl (new)

Karl -- I was going for more of a plot summary not to try and analyze or ponder esoteric points. If you want, I can delete it, let me know --


message 8: by carol. (last edited Mar 01, 2016 06:03PM) (new)

carol. | 89 comments Mod
Oh, that was a nice summary--I wouldn't want you to waste all that work--just that the (view spoiler) is a twist. It might be useful for people that may not have time to re-read but want to share thoughts. I had forgotten how the MC's broad education benefits him.

I'd spoiler it after the first paragraph.


message 9: by Karl (new)

Karl Carol. wrote: "Oh, that was a nice summary--I wouldn't want you to waste all that work--just that the [spoilers removed] is a twist. It might be useful for people that may not have time to re-read but want to sha..."

-- Please be my guest, I am not too familure with the magic tricks of GR --


message 10: by Bradley (last edited Mar 01, 2016 06:15PM) (new)

Bradley (arctunn) | 20 comments spoiler and /spoiler within brackets < >


message 11: by Amy (Other Amy) (new)

Amy (Other Amy) | 12 comments Wow, Brad, so great that you got to hear him read. And Karl, I think you said you met him in the other thread. That's really lovely.

If you click on the 'some html is ok' link in the upper right of the comment box, you can copy and paste the spoiler tags if that's easier; they are as Brad described. I don't think mods can edit comments for people; they can only delete.


message 12: by carol. (new)

carol. | 89 comments Mod
Amy's right, I can't edit.

Where you want to put a spoiler, type a "<" then the word "spoiler" then the other ">" Just leave out all the quotation marks.

Ah, the days when I tried to figure out the wonky html system.


message 13: by Jason (last edited Mar 04, 2016 06:09AM) (new)

Jason | 21 comments Wow, Brad. That's very cool that you got to watch Zelazny perform. By all accounts, he was as lively in person as he is in his prose. I haven't read this one yet (and for some reason it was never on my radar), so very much looking forward to it. (I ordered from Abebooks, so it will be arriving at my doorstep shortly...)


message 14: by Athena (last edited Mar 19, 2016 03:48PM) (new)

Athena (athenapn) | 18 comments If you enjoy brief previews, Jo Walton wrote an essay (aka blog post) on Doorways at Tor.com at Doorways In The Sand. She also did a nice piece on Zelazny-influenced writers, at Something Else Like … Roger Zelazny.
Regards, all!


message 15: by carol. (new)

carol. | 89 comments Mod
Athena--thanks! Your first link is broken. The second--fun. I can attest--Steven Brust's Taltos series is definitely "first person smart ass." :)


message 16: by Athena (new)

Athena (athenapn) | 18 comments Aiie, thank you!!! It's better now ... cut & pasted myself into html-crazy land, I did!


message 17: by carol. (new)

carol. | 89 comments Mod
Thanks! I wonder if I want the collections Walton references...


message 18: by Athena (new)

Athena (athenapn) | 18 comments Carol. wrote: "Thanks! I wonder if I want the collections Walton references..."
The short stories? Yes Carol, yes you DO want them. You want to read them & review the collection on GR. When you wake up you'll remember you WANT the collection …
html insert hypnotic suggestion end-html
;)


message 19: by Bradley (new)

Bradley (arctunn) | 20 comments That sounds oddly good... like I am getting some whispers in my ear or something... :)


message 20: by Amy (Other Amy) (new)

Amy (Other Amy) | 12 comments Thanks for those, Athena.


message 21: by Karl (new)

Karl Carol. wrote: "Amy's right, I can't edit.

Where you want to put a spoiler, type a "" Just leave out all the quotation marks.

Ah, the days when I tried to figure out the wonky html system."


-- Thanks for the hint, all taken care of.... --


message 22: by carol. (new)

carol. | 89 comments Mod
:D


message 23: by carol. (new)

carol. | 89 comments Mod
Well, I'm excited. I'm off work starting wednesday, and looking forward to april 1.


message 24: by Bradley (new)

Bradley (arctunn) | 20 comments Me too!


message 25: by Amy (Other Amy) (new)

Amy (Other Amy) | 12 comments Me three! (For the looking forward anyway; I still have work but I'll pop in in the evening.)


message 26: by Athena (new)

Athena (athenapn) | 18 comments And me … clearing the reading decks for Zelazny!


message 27: by Andreas (new)

Andreas I measure the quality of Zelazny novels by its smoking density. First pipe came after 8 pages, which is a bad sign, alas :)


message 28: by Gene (new)

Gene Are you sure you are not mixing up Roger Zelazny and Robert Jordan? The latter was a real smoking pipe enthusiast.


message 29: by carol. (new)

carol. | 89 comments Mod
I think in Dan S.'s review of Dodos and extinct things, he mentioned that pipes were covered along with typewriters and VHS tapes. There was a brief resurgence of smoking/pipe shops around here about 5 years ago, but honestly, I haven't seen anyone smoking a pipe in ages. Are they an anachronism now?


message 30: by Bradley (new)

Bradley (arctunn) | 20 comments Not among pot smokers. :)


message 31: by Amy (Other Amy) (new)

Amy (Other Amy) | 12 comments Very funny. Pipe smoking was one of my dad's hobbies (before he quit, anyway). He's on to old fashioned shaving razors now.


message 32: by Andreas (new)

Andreas Evgeny, usually Zelazny's fiction is full of cigarette smoke. But in this special case we saw the tutor smoking a pipe. This in combination with 7 smokeless pages is clearly a bad sign. I hope for the sake of five stars that density will rise.


message 33: by Athena (new)

Athena (athenapn) | 18 comments I was at university in '76 & the nasty tutor & snarky comment "I had had him pegged as a pipe smoker all along" was too funny … pipes (and tweed!) as the 70s badge of 'The Serious Scholar.' Snort!

Really enjoying Fred's acrophilia & dismissing the semi-heard or -seen questions: "Do you see me, red?", "Do you smell me, ded?" etc. Jeepers, do we think these will go somewhere in the plot? ;)


message 34: by Andreas (new)

Andreas Zelazny belonged to a group of authors - Chip Delany, Tom Disch, Harlan Ellison, John Sladek - in the 60s who formed a kind of offshoot of the British New Wave.
British New Wave was more exoerimental with authors like Ballard, Aldiss and Moorcock. But those authors helped to bring in other aspects than Science to SF.
For this, I love them :)


message 35: by Karl (new)

Karl -- June 21, 1986. Author Guest of Honor Roger Zelazny reads two of his works. "Loki 7281" and "Blood of Amber" (excerpt). Originally videotaped and aired for Minneapolis Television Network, the local cable access channel, with audio equipment from KFAI-FM.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TRQ4w...

--


message 36: by carol. (new)

carol. | 89 comments Mod
Oh, thanks, Karl. I just posted the first sentence on my update and had a couple of thoughts--first, holy crapload of commas! Second, Zelazny love describing sky in liquid metaphors. I have one picked out in a short story anthology where he compares Venus' sunrise to coffee and milk (he called them cloud curdles here). Third, love how he never said Fred is looking at the sky.


message 37: by carol. (new)

carol. | 89 comments Mod
Andreas- smoking on page 3 :)


message 38: by Andrew (new)

Andrew (andrew619) | 5 comments I've started today and I finished the first two chapters. I like the story, and I'm curious to understand all the background story, in some case only mentioned.
Fred Cassidy is a strange character, a lifetime student, embroiled in a strange story.
This thing of climbing building is strange. I mean, who is this guy? Spiderman. Interesting (view spoiler)
I'm looking forward to read the nex, tomorrow.


message 39: by Jason (new)

Jason | 21 comments That opening chapter is fantastic. The tone is of some high brow university satire, like a novel by Kingsley Amis. It's witty as hell. Also, the first two chapters together - and this is strange - somehow create a world we want to be in. I want to be a student at a university where professors get drunk, climb on cathedrals, and count stars. The setting of the novel, so far, is extremely inviting. An awesome start.


message 40: by carol. (new)

carol. | 89 comments Mod
Oh my goodness, Jason, yes--I totally wanted to be Fred Cassidy. Not the climbing part, but the being in school forever and knowing a fair amount about everything. It does rather remind me of younger, more hedonistic time period, although I laughed when administration had to make a climbing rule due to Fred.

I'm thinking about starting a new thread for references--what do you think? So many direct and indirect. On pg 3 the professor "utters a labial consonant" which is what people are always doing to Bertie Wooster in Wodehouse books (which often means they are snorting at him).

The part you mention, Andrew--the end references a Yeats poem (""I spit into the face of Time that has transfigured me." ---reference The Lamentation of the Old Pensioner"), which I had to look up. The "widening gyre" is the opposite of a Yeats poem about death and a "narrowing gyre."
I didn't attack the math poem at all :)


message 41: by Mitticus (new)

Mitticus | 6 comments Carol. wrote: "Oh my goodness, Jason, yes--I totally wanted to be Fred Cassidy. Not the climbing part, but the being in school forever and knowing a fair amount about everything. It does rather remind me of young..."

Oh, yes. I always said that if I had enough money, I 'd like to travel and keep taking all kind of classes :D


message 42: by Jason (last edited Apr 02, 2016 11:19AM) (new)

Jason | 21 comments Man - lots and lots of references. Primarily, there seems to be, so far, an interest in alluding to Alice in Wonderland. There was something notably Lewis Carrol-ish about the talking wombat and then the kangaroo helpfully offering Fred a sandwich because "peanut butter is rich in protein." A great entrance for those two characters.
In other thoughts, I recognize that Zelazny is going for a sort of witty, jaunty, ironic, hard boiled tone here, what with the whole world and its nephew searching for the Maltese Star-stone, but even given the pastiche, which he is doing well, I still felt the torture scene was just a bit too lighthearted. The man's old friend and roommate has been found in a park without his internal organs, and Fred himself acknowledges that he fears mutilation, and yet Fred's narrative voice, describing their treatment of him, remains defiantly playful. I wonder if we are meant to feel any real threat from these guys, or legitimately care for the stakes, or whether the witty, lighthearted, hard-boiled style is going to be more important throughout the book than tension or suspense. Well, we'll see...


message 43: by Amy (Other Amy) (last edited Apr 02, 2016 12:22PM) (new)

Amy (Other Amy) | 12 comments I would love a reference thread; I'm sure I've missed a lot.

The first three chapters are almost a how-it's-done manual for writers. He just drops us into this lovely world (I like Jason's remark above about drunken professors climbing and counting), where aliens have the Mona Lisa and the Crown Jewels (love the kula chain) and an eternal student with spending money just waltzes off to Austrailia for an unauthorized dig.

The conversation with Professor Dobson is one of my all time favorite moments in SFF. For me, it just skirts the edge of an info dump, giving the reader a lot of information, but framing it in terms of the wonder and philosophy of two committed students of life and living is brilliant and very engaging.

The opening of chapter three is just astoundingly good. I'm not sure I agree that the torture is too light; I get the distinct impression that Fred is deliberately choosing a certain lightheartedness as his own personal take on Stoicism - this is a man who thinks of being gnawed to death by an animal 'could be a small measure of triumph,' presumably because his captors wouldn't get what they wanted. Fred turns out to be tougher than chapter one suggests. I didn't feel any lack of danger; they did cut Paul Byler's innards out, after all. (Not the roommate, Hal's, though. Paul was the geology professor.) YMMV, of course.

And then we get a talking wombat and kangaroo. Love.


message 44: by Andreas (new)

Andreas Don't forget the telepathic donkey!


message 45: by Amy (Other Amy) (new)

Amy (Other Amy) | 12 comments Was there a telepathic donkey in the first three chapters? Maybe I should read this again...


message 46: by Athena (new)

Athena (athenapn) | 18 comments Amy (Other Amy) wrote: "I would love a reference thread; I'm sure I've missed a lot..." Absolutely, I second!

Instead of my usual gulping reading habit I'm enjoying this as a much-anticipated fine meal. How not? Zelazny's ease with unusual English words married my poetry & myth-reference Joneses in the opening lines of Ch.3, reread over & over:
Sunflash, some splash. Darkle. Stardance.
Phaeton's solid gold Cadillac crashed where there was no ear to hear, lay burning, flickered, went out. Like me.
(I found the Phaeton reference particularly intensified the feeling of danger Fred faced while bound in that terrible AUS desert sun.)

Andreas, I'm curious how these lines worked for you when read in translation? Especially that unusual, almost archaic word 'Darkle' - did it feel poetic at all in the sense of poetry often using the barest bones of words to create a feeling?


message 47: by carol. (last edited Apr 02, 2016 07:51PM) (new)

carol. | 89 comments Mod
I'll start the thread, and please add Phaeton, Athena, so I don't have to look it up. :)

https://www.goodreads.com/topic/show/...


message 48: by Bradley (new)

Bradley (arctunn) | 20 comments Hyperlinks, please. It's the lazy reader's guide to mythology. :) (I'm loving this thread.) :)


message 49: by Athena (new)

Athena (athenapn) | 18 comments Brad wrote: "Hyperlinks, please. It's the lazy reader's guide to mythology. :) (I'm loving this thread.) :)"

Gods bless hyperlinks-I'd be at this Mac all day otherwise!
:)


message 50: by Jason (new)

Jason | 21 comments Amy (Other Amy) wrote: "Was there a telepathic donkey in the first three chapters? Maybe I should read this again..."

No, the psychic donkey appears in the brilliant chapter 6. Man, is his entrance funny.


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