OR: Lord of Light

A review that originally appeared in The Third Alternative #21:-

LORD OF LIGHT

Roger Zelazny

Millennium pb, 261pp, £6.99

On a distant planet the survivors of a star ship landing use their advanced technology to set themselves up as the gods of the Hindu pantheon – Braham, Krishna, Kali, Yama etc – demonising the native lifeforms and ruling over their own descendants with an iron hand. One of their number, the rebel Sam, decides to overthrow the rule of the Gods and give ordinary mortals the benefits of technology. To fight their tyranny he takes on the mantle of the Buddha.

Written in 1967, this novel is arguably Zelazny’s finest work. The basic premise, as far fetched as any in the genre, is executed with commendable thoroughness and audacity. The plot moves along at a cracking pace, rich in incident, with twist after twist. Zelazny’s writing is vivid and alive, crammed with potent imagery, effortlessly creating a whole world full of alien sights and sounds and smells, while the dialogue borders on the sublime, illuminating its subject matter with wit and perception. This is SF as it should be, daring, iconoclastic, exuberant and, most of all, supremely readable. One every fan of the genre will want to have on their shelves.

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