Roger Zelazny R. D. Mullen - Essay

R. D. Mullen

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

[Zelazny is perhaps as skillful as any other SF writer (with the obvious exception of Ursula Le Guin) and far more skillful than most.]

[Zelazny] would surely be a great success as a scriptwriter for soap operas, who found the theme best suited to his talents and inclinations in one of the stories in Four For Tomorrow, "A Rose for Ecclesiastes," perhaps the best story ever on Mars as a dying world, but who went quite overboard in another, "The Doors of His Face, the Lamps of His Mouth," perhaps the most turgid and cliché-ridden of all the retellings of [Herman Melville's] Moby Dick. The other two stories in the book, "The Furies" and "The Graveyard Heart," are neither as effective as the former nor as mawkish as the latter.

Early on in This Immortal the centuries-old protagonist is addressed as follows: "I was curious as to the sort of sensibilities a human might cultivate, given so much time—especially in view of your position as a master of your world's history and art." But alas!, though we do have a quite original post-catastrophe Earth in this story, we learn very little about its history or art, and even less about the sensibilities of the narrator-protagonist, who turns out to be a great fighting man, and who describes his fights in great detail.

R. D. Mullen, "The Garland Library of Science Fiction: 'Four for Tomorrow'," in Science-Fiction Studies (copyright © 1975 by R. D. Mullen and Darko Suvin), Vol. 2, No. 7, November, 1975, p. 287.