Time Travel Book Reviews
Zelanzy attempts to blend sci-fi with fantasy with mixed results in this novel. Red Dorakeen is a time-traveller whose ultimate destination is unknown even to himself. The method of time travel takes place via "The Road", which acts as link between the past, present and future. The road exists in almost another dimension unto itself, where each exit corresponds to a major time period. The secondary characters that populate this book include a couple of sentient computers disguised as volumes of poetry, a race of intelligent dragons, an alien artifact disguised as potter, and a host of assasins from various time periods.
As Red Dorakeen travels the road in search of his unkown destination, a Black Decade is declared upon him in which 10 attempts will be made on his life with out interference from the authorities. While Red attempts to stay alive long enough to discover his goal, his son from a brief encounter in 20th Century Clevland discovers the road and seeks out his father.
I found Zelazny's structure in this novel a little confusing at first. In a somewhat amusing, non-linear sight gag that gets old fast , Zelazny numbers his chapters out of sequence and alternating between the numbers 1 and 2. Early chapters alternate between Red with his sentient copy of Evil Flowers and Randy with his sentient copy of Leaves of Grass. If the reader isn't paying close attention, they can't quickly lose track of which character's they are following from one chapter to another. I found the first half dozen chapter's made much more sense when I re-read them after I had finished the book.
Zelazny's concept of time travel, while novel, does little to expand or explore the time travel genre. Zelazny briefly explores the concepts of alternate histories (e.g. Greeks losing at Marathon) and explains that a junction on the road can become so dissused that it is impossible to find again. As with any time travel novel the temptation to include historical figures is nearly impossible to resist and Zelazny manages to find room for Adolf Hitler and Marquis de Sade in cameo roles. While not necessarily an inspired choice of historical figures, Zelazny does manage to use them to good effect to further his plot.
I found Roadmarks to be a light read at just under 200 pages. More likely to appeal to fans of fantasy than hard core sci-fi, but a recommended read all the same.
Review Posted 2001-02-07
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