Be warned: I am not a science fiction expert, so fans and experts (fexperts?), read no further. I’m just a feminist with a lot of sci fi on her hands and a pretty voracious reading habit. That said, I began wending my way through my piles of sci fi in a completely unsystematic manner, which is why I wound up reading Roger Zelazny’s The Guns of Avalon first, only belatedly discovering that it was the second in his Amber series.
Despite some continuity issues and general confusion, I did manage to finish this novel, which is about the antics of a weirdly hard-boiled Hermes-like bloke named Corwin whose relationship with his immortal family is, well, problematic. I could sympathize with his sense that he had way too many siblings, as well as the advice he dispenses about trusting friends before relatives, but I have to say, Corwin’s kind of an asshole. Sure, he can walk all day with another dude on his back and he recovers from a blinding (lots of castration issues in this) through his ability to regenerate.
But I almost stopped reading the book after a long riff about his white knighting of a hooker named Chilblain (maybe it’s Lorraine) who was abused by a previous lover. There’s a lot of posturing about the douche bag who abused her, but then, during the course of a conversation in which Chilblain isn’t particularly forthcoming in Corwin’s estimation, there’s this curious sentence: “I slapped her then.” And this after said posturing about how Corwin was going to “trounce” some other douche bag who had beat her.
And of course, the Big Bad in the novel is another woman — yawn — Dara, who first seduces him by posing as his brother’s great grand-daughter (or something distant enough for Corwin to claim it’s not incest) and then turns into a big cat with horns and electricity who laughs at him inhumanly.
I can’t say that reading The Guns of Avalon was time well-spent, but it was still a kind of interesting look into the Freudian sci fi imagination. Writing style was similarly kind of funny — combo of high fantasy setting and actions, with post-war slang: “Then I fear I must sleep” on one page, then “None of your business, Charlie” on another.