Creatures of Light and Darkness

At long last it’s back in print. Roger Zelazny’s Creatures of Light and Darkness (Eos $13.99) is a story that encompasses the whole of the universe, from the Houses of the Dead and of Life at the extremes, the Midworlds teeming with the six species of humanity — and the immortals, almost 300 of them. Zelazny uses and abuses (in the best possible way) the Egyptian mythos: there’s Annubis, Osiris, Set, Horus, Isis, Thoth… And the Steel General who rides a mount, Bronze, with eight legs, and its every pace is double the previous. It’s said that given time Bronze could circumnavigate the universe with one stride; but what happens with its next step? All of this in under 200 pages. And amid the sparse prose there’s still room for the odd purple passage; heaven knows how many pages — or books — the story would take up today. Zelazny’s paucity adds to the sense of awe. Creatures is one of my favourite novels, ever, and this edition comes too many years too late (I believe a UK edition is due from Gollancz later this year).