(Today’s author: Roger Zelazny)
Don’t get me wrong: I loved the Amber series. Very good alternate-universe stuff, in a conceptual sense. Never really got into the paradoxes (paradoxi?) inherent in the premise of One True Reality and a Multitude of Shadows, but then, neither did H Beam Piper’s Paratime series, so who are we to judge? Well worth reading, in other words.
But it’s Lord of Light that triggered this entry. The book is one of the first ones that I can think of that mixed science fiction with Indian themes (that’s Asian Indian, not Native American), and in a fashion that showed an understanding of the source material. A very short synopsis: the main character is in opposition to a society where Hinduism has been co-opted to reinforce the somewhat restrictive rule of its ‘gods.’ This being a science fiction story, that includes a technological form of reincarnation; this also being New Wave, it meant a certain amount of other psionic* abilities. This being written by Roger Zelazny, it’s excellent stuff; the hero foments his rebellion against this co-opted Hinduism by creating Buddhism… with results that would later prove bemusing. All in all, it’s one of those books that you wish had a sequel, but you’re sort of glad doesn’t; it probably wouldn’t have been as good anyway.
Plus, the CIA used a script based on this book to smuggle some embassy people out of Iran during the hostage crisis – no, really – so there’s some good karma there.
Yes, I just did that.
*That’s a science fiction term meaning ‘magic.’