Roger Zelazny Norman Culpan - Essay

Norman Culpan

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

Just as able, as in his Lord of Light, to conjure a new mythology out of old religion, to mingle future science with a primitive past in a context of magic, to narrate the battles of gods on a cosmic scale and single combat on a heroic scale, [in Creatures of Light and Darkness Zelazny] takes the religion of ancient Egypt as his raw material. But whereas, in Lord of Light, we thought on the whole we could identify with Sam, a kind of Christ-Buddha, in this second novel we are often not sure where our sympathies lie. The awful grotesque is replaced by the comic grotesque; imaginative response is inflated only to be punctured; even comment seems parody of the earlier style: 'the motorcycle that is Time backfires as it races by.' Vigorous imagination, effective narration and powerful visual presentation are still there: but what are we to make of two rival soothsayers who quarrel bitchily over the omens to be read from the steaming entrails that one has just ripped out of the other with a knife? Whom is Zelazny parodying but himself? And yet I don't regret the time spent reading it! (pp. 143-44)

Norman Culpan, "Literature: 'Creatures of Light and Darkness'," in The School Librarian, Vol. 19, No. 2, June, 1971, pp. 143-44.