Book info

Roadmarks (1994)

Roadmarks (1994)
3.87 of 5 Votes: 1
0345345150 (ISBN13: 9780345345158)
del rey / ballantine
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Roadmarks (1994)
Roadmarks (1994)

About book: We are on the Road. It traverses time - Time past. Time to come, Time that could have been and Time that might yet be. It goes on forever, so far as I know, and no one knows all of its turnings. If the man you seek is the death driven man I once accompanied, we may find him somewhere along it, for his was the traveler's blood that allows a man to take these routes. I wonder how they managed, back in the seventies, to write such wide ranging and far reaching adventures in less than 200 pages, filled with so much invention and speculation that you can hardly find today in the pages of doorstopper trilogies that need three or more thousand pages to tell a similar story. Are we so shallow that we sneer at thin volumes, believing we are not getting our money's worth, so publishers and writers alike feel pressed to offer us mostly bloated epics? I know I am exaggerating and simplifying the issue, but I am simply in awe at how much Zelazny can say with so few words, at his range of emotions, going from mawkish sentimentality to sarcastic humour by way of western style shootouts and even some Godzilla style rampage.The premise is not too complicated: Red Dorakeen is a man who has travelled back and forth in time along the Road in his battered Dodge pick-up. He's done this for so long that he has forgotten where he came from originally. Not everybody can find the Road and travel on it, but Red, like other journeyers of his ilk, has been born to it. Something in his blood allows him to see the exits and to follow them to alternate realities where the Greeks may lose the battle of Marathon or the Crusaders are still entrenched in the Holy Land. Red tries to alter the outcomes by smuggling modern arms or technology to the side he favors, hoping he might change the reality back to the one he originated in.I have been up and down that damned Road from Neolithic to C Thirty. I have followed every side road, footpath and rabbit run along the way. I am known in a thousand lands by different names. Yet in none of them have I found what I sought, what we seek. Is it worth it? Is it worth wasting your life looking when you can have your choice of times and places, go anywhere, do anything you want? He is trying to make sense of his life, of his destiny, but he has a slight problem. A former partner has put out a contract on him: "Vendetta is what I call it. My enemy gets ten shots at me without interference. If they all miss, he's supposed to quit. It's kind of a game. Last night was the first.""Can't you hit back?""Sure. If I knew where to look. In the meantime, I'd better run. The Road is long. The game can take a lifetime. Always does, in fact, one way or another." Right here's another typical Zelazny touch : the story is always more than appears at first glance. Instead of the entertaining adventure romp of being chased across parallel universes by Shaolin monks, angry robots, sensual black widow type female assassins, gangsta thugs or monsters from the Paleozoic, the quest becomes an existential one, a search for the meaning of life, a parable of life as a journey. Red Dorakeen's travels become a fundamental restlessness that cannot accept a static and predictable present, no matter how comfortable and tranquil it may be. He will always hear and answer to the call of the unknown, to the dangers and thrills of the chase. ( Even if there were nothing special I were seeking, even then ... I'd just get restless.) The Road has always been here, and those of us who can travel it always have. The world goes on, the Road goes on - from creation to destruction, amen, for all you know. In keeping with the time travel theme, the structure of the novel is non-linear, we meet the characters first old, then young, we have events take place out of sequence, an assassin fails in his attack then we see how he was recruited, and so on. Yet, it all makes sense in the end. The details accumulate and point out to an explanation of sorts, to a final revelation, to an ultimate duel on the highway - in a place appropriately marked with a roadsign: "Last Exit To Babylon".More than the intellectual challenge of making sense of a twisted tale, the charm of the novel relies on the wacky characters and their unconventional dialogues, on meeting historical or fictional characters along the Road, like the Marquis de Sade or Ambrose Bierce. My favorites are the two artificial intelligences that serve a similar role in the plot to the infamous HAL computer from Arthur C Clarke's Space Odyssey, or like that iPhone application that uses voice to give you answers to quizzes. In Zelazny's novel, these two A.I.'s are portable and have a mind of their own, which they like to express at length in sarcastic comments. 'Flowers' and 'Leaves' are awakened volumes of poetry, always ready with a quote at appropriate or inappropriate moments, either from Les Fleurs du Mal by Charles Baudelaire, or respectively from Leaves of Grass by Walt Whitman. If you need more convincing regarding the A.I., there's cybersex of a sorts when ... (view spoiler)[ Mondamay, the damaged apocalypse robot who could wipe out a planet but prefers to do pottery, asks Red for a separate room at a Roadside motel: One for Flowers and myself. We just want to be alone - together. There's also some Godzilla romance in there somewhere, when a dragon falls in love with a Tyrannosaurus Rex. (hide spoiler)]

"I foresaw this reaction. I can't convince someone else of the existence of a version of reality that is temporarily my subjective vision."is "Reality" what you make it? I guess it depends on who you ask and how their reality is working for them.there's a man named Red who travels down the Road. the Road can lead to all places, all times. the man has a goal but he's not sure what that goal is. unfortunately for Red, someone is out to get him and they've hired 10 assassins to get the job done. but is it really so unfortunate? this is a tricky book and Red is an equally tricky protagonist.Zelazny puts all of his themes and a whole lot of characters and philosophies and amusing trifles and mysterious back stories and intriguing possibilities into a petite novel clocking in at 185 breezy pages. the author knows how to juggle a whole lot of different balls, that's clear. and he does it in a way that makes it look so easy and fun. mind-boggling mysteries are hinted at, dropped, picked up again, and solved with a minimum of fuss. Zelazny is a master juggler and he wants his audience to have as good a time as he's having, and if he can pull a heart string or two, all the better. that said, this is a minor novel, and often feels half-baked in its execution despite the richness of its ideas. well maybe not "half-baked"... it's just more of a snack than a whole meal. who doesn't like snacks?as always, his cheeky humor is also on display. and who doesn't like cheeky humor? there's a lot of things to like about this trippy little adventure tale. plus it has time traveling dragons! The tyrannosaurus grunted several times. The dragon laughed and caressed him."He's not much on brains," she confided. "But what a body!"
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Sam Kabo Ashwell
Amber in miniature. We have a gifted caste who can traverse the multiverse, but the multiverse is smaller -- world history plus some alt-history forks; the talent is inherited, but the dynastics are reduced to a single father-son deal. Characters diffidently want to kill each other for no very clearly defined reason, and abruptly stop wanting to kill each other and make equally diffident alliances; nobody really has anything resembling an emotional history. 20th-century American idiom, attitudes and technology are juxtaposed against fantasy/historical fiction tropes, but the latter are never treated very closely. And there's a conception of plot arc in there, somewhere, but the actual plot just sort of shambles randomly along on three legs.And it's pretty short, so things feel rather hurried. There are lots of cool ideas and cool scenes, but they don't hang together much.
Joey Brockert
tThis is a strange story of a magic highway. This road runs through time, grom way back when to way far future. Somehow certain special people get to travel from one time to another time, stop off, play around, get back on and go to somewhen else.tRed Dorakeen is driving an old, rusty Dodge truck along this highway with his trusty companion, 'Flowers of Evil' (aka Flowers), a self aware computer disguised as a book. The chapter are numbered ' One' and 'Two.' There must be some sort of order for which is which, but there are times that chapter One follows chapter One, other times it follows chapter Two. Go figure. \Red gets a hint that he has been marked for assassination by some other fellow who had been a business partner in former times. This turns out to be a sort of game with rules of conduct, escape clauses, etc. Red wns thru a number of tries (ten is the maximum). In the end it is a way for the development of the instigator.tBack here on 'normal' Earth, a boy who hyst graduated from college, contemplates his future. He is trying to decide where and what to do with himself. All he knows of his father is that he left a book, “Leaves of Grass” and it turns out to be twin to Flowers and takes the boy onto the Highway fro fun and adventure.
I devoured this book in an evening, relishing every last morsel. I think the correct adjective to describe it is ‘lysergic’. Hallucinogenic drugs are never mentioned, but every page is like acid-impregnated blotting paper. The flashbacks commence on page three and never let up.The plot, which is mostly just an excuse for the settings and set pieces, is a road movie played out along a highway that runs between the Jurassic and the thirtieth century. Specially gifted people and machines can travel this highway in both directions. The protagonist is an especially gifted man who travels the road in a blue Dodge pickup, trying to change the past in order to find his way home. Other people, not unreasonably, are trying to prevent him from doing this. One of them wants – or seems to want – to kill him, sending various hirelings in pursuit. Other people (and machines) want to help him. The action climaxes at a place called Last Exit to Babylon, where all is revealed. Attentive readers will have foreseen the revelation some chapters earlier, but this does not matter. The dénouement loses nothing from having been telegraphed long distance.It may read like an acid-inspired fantasy novel, but Roadmarks is science fiction, and pretty hard science fiction at that. Not much is explained in the book, but if you have some knowledge of quantum mechanics you will see the road as a worldline connecting ‘histories’, or values of the wavefunction of the universe, that have the highest probability. It is possible to visit alternative histories as well as create them – this results in new bends, forks and feeder lanes in the road – but such changes are rarely permanent. The topography of the road is changing all the time in response to the actions of those who travel it. There is also a race of sentient beings, called dragons, who are able to view the landscape of probabilities as a whole and move freely from point to point in it without being confined to the road. The dragons’ actions can also affect history by altering the relative probability of events.The more I think about this quantum underpinning, the more impressed and charmed I am by it. It is presented almost entirely through metaphor and imagery. There are no lectures or info-dumps in the text. If you don't know a little about the subject, some of the features and conceits of the book may seem a little more arbitrary than they really are – but arbitrariness, as any seasoned head will happily explain, is among the salient features of any really good, mind-bending trip.A final note, especially for lovers of Iain M. Banks: there is a lot in this book that you will like. In fact, I enjoyed it rather more than I did Banks's own excursion on the same theme.
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