Tuesday, February 10, 2009

No, The OTHER Chronicles!

For the last couple of weeks, I've been reading the second half of Roger Zelazny's Chronicles of Amber series. They've been out since the - I don't know, '80s? - and I've read them over and over again.

What keeps me coming back to the series is that it literally encompasses all of reality and a few quasi-realities (is that a word?) to boot. Picture a reality where everything imaginable is possible, all you have to do is go to the place where that possibility occurs. And if you're one of a chosen few who have the ability, you can jump from universe to universe, experiencing everything that you and your friends (and enemies) can come up with. Can you tell I'm having escapist fantasies and this series plays to them? : )

There are two polar locations, Amber and the Courts of Chaos. Amber is the "real" earth, from which all other earths (including ours) are copies with subtle and not so subtle differences. The closer one gets to the Courts of Chaos, the weirder things get, until everything vanishes into what appears to be a Black Hole (minus the gravitational pull).

Obviously, that's just the setting for the books (ten in all, five in each of two series). There's intrigue, adventure, assassinations, plots, magic, sword fights (gunpowder doesn't work on Amber or in several other "shadows"); the usual and not so usual fantasy fiction fare.

But what really sparks my imagination is Zelazny's use of Trumps.

Trumps, as the name implies, are cards, much like tarot cards or the Jack, Queen, King and Joker cards from a normal deck. Only on these cards, the pictures are of the novel's main characters and locales. Characters talk to each other, travel to different places, and can move from one universe to the next by concentrating on the picture depicted on the trump. Honestly, the first time I read this series (I was a kid at the time), I tried to draw card-sized portraits of my friends and favorite places. Sadly, this was long before digital photography and photoshop, so they ended up looking like stick figures suffering from various horrible mutations (yes, I'm that bad an artist!). All were thrown out to avoid embarrassment should anyone find them.

I just discovered that there was a comic book version of the first book of the series created back in '96 (I think). I may just have to hunt that down for giggles next time I end up with extra money in my pocket. I'd love to see how things look through someone else's imagination.

This series ranks up there on my list of "books that need to be made into movies" (hmmm, seems like an idea for a future post! If they did it for Tolkien, why not Zelazny???

And on that note, I'm going home. Peace.

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