Roger Zelazny The Times Literary Supplement - Essay

The Times Literary Supplement

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

Roger Zelazny has what most readers mean when they talk of style: an obtrusive style. The Dream Master is full of style—indeed, one hardly sees the wood for its multitudinous trees. Behind the trees stands an intelligent and basically simple story, concerning Render, a "neuroparticipant" who, operating through a machine, can enter his patients' minds and build from their contents complete illusions of reality, and a strong-willed blind woman who comes to him for help and education….

It would work well as a modern myth, the myth of the man-on-the-couch turning on his psychiatrist. But Mr. Zelazny dilutes his effect by throwing in too many fragments of older legend—Daedalus, Tristan and Isolde, the Holy Grail, the Cabala, while his characters quote [Fyodor] Dostoevsky and [Walt] Whitman at each other. This takes up so much space that potentially interesting characters like Render's son and the blind woman's artificially mutated guide dog fulfil little function beyond decoration.

Given these reservations, Mr. Zelazny has his pleasures, his wit and his striking pictures, and a certain admirable throwaway sense of the future…. Roger Zelazny is young; one might hope for more substance and less filigree later were it not for his loyal fans, who tend to prefer exhibitionism to ratiocination.

"Do You Mind?" in The Times Literary Supplement (© Times Newspapers Ltd. (London) 1968; reproduced from The Times Literary Supplement by permission), No. 3448, March 28, 1968; p. 310.∗