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A Night in the Lonesome October

af Roger Zelazny

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1,2306511,689 (4.11)81
All is not what it seems . . . In the murky London gloom, a knife-wielding gentleman named Jack prowls the midnight streets with his faithful watchdog Snuff - gathering together the grisly ingredients they will need for an upcoming ancient and unearthly rite. For soon after the death of the moon, black magic will summon the Elder Gods back into the world. And all manner of Players, both human and undead, are preparing to participate. Some have come to open the gates. Some have come to slam them shut. And now the dread night approaches - so let the Game begin. AUTHOR: Roger Zelazny was one of the most revered names in SF and fantasy. During his lifetime he was honoured with numerous prizes, including six Hugo and three Nebula Awards. He died in 1995.… (mere)
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Viser 1-5 af 65 (næste | vis alle)
1995-02-14
  mathomhaul | Apr 24, 2021 |
My first and only encounter with the works of Roger Zelazny is the omnibus [b:The Chronicles of Amber|316876|The Chronicles of Amber (The Chronicles of Amber, #1-5)|Roger Zelazny|https://images.gr-assets.com/books/1415558522s/316876.jpg|6300301] (see my review here), which consists of the first five books in the series. These five stories are in fact one big story, hence it being best to not consider/review the separate novels on their own.

Mr Zelazny has, of course, written more than just those books. One of them, also his last one, is 'A Night in the Lonesome October'.

The book was first translated (and published by Éditions J'ai Lu) into French in 1995, as NooSFere.org indicates. Éditions ActuSF republished the book in 2018 (large cover) and most recently (March 2019) as a mass market paperback.

The story is a very smooth read, thanks to the translating work by Ange Desmarais, although I presume that the original version is also very accessible. I don't think Éditions ActuSF has changed anything, rather just taken the original translation and republished it.

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What is this rather funny story about? It revolves around a recurring game (le Jeu), during which Openers and Closers oppose forces to either allow or prevent the coming of the Great Old Ones, like Cthulhu, into the world of mortal men and thus install a new kind of governing power.

The story brings together several known characters from diverse planes of existence: Sherlock Holmes (The Great Detective), Rasputin (Rastov, a mad monk; at least, the character seems based on Rasputin), Count Dracula (The Count), Jack the Ripper (Jack), Frankenstein (The Good Doctor), ... There are also some secondary characters, like Jill (a witch), Owen (a druid), pastor Roberts (a clergyman), Larry Talbot (Wolf Man), and Morris and MacNab (both Hermetic occultists). Each of these characters has a familiar, an animal with near-human intelligence. The story itself is told from the perspective of Jack's dog, Snuff. Other animals include a cat, a rat, a snake, an own, a bat and a squirrel, each matching with a corresponding character. Some of these only joined in for fun, others were very serious about it and not experiencing their first Game.

Each of these characters is either an Opener or a Closer, with one "team" competing with (or against?) the other to play the Game. For this Game, all parties have to seek artefacts and attributes (especially limbs and organs from buried people, but also a ring, an icon and a chalice, if I'm not mistaken) to feed the fire at the start of the Game. The animals, on the other hand, are in contact with one another, exchanging only information if there's something to be gained in return. Each of these encounters is quite brief, but the rate increases as the D-day draws near.

Each chapter is one day of the month October and as you can imagine, the Game takes place on the 31st. At first, you/the reader don't know at all what's going on, why there are talking animals, which roles they play, why the other characters are involved. All is revealed only near or at the end. Somehow, you could foresee what it would be, but I have to admit that, for the life of me, couldn't predict what Zelazny had in store, once you the climax was reached. And it took a sneaky move to accomplish a satisfying result. For some, at least.

During the preparations, not everyone will live to see the day, be it a policeman or a participant in the Game. It's Snuff's job, which he likes very much, to find out why these murders occur, who commits him, and how that will impact the Game, or rather, the end result. Because, if his calculations to find the spot where the Game will/should take place are faulty, it can endanger the lives of many. Fear not, however, Mr Zelazny has a few tricks up his sleeve; there are a few surprises along the way.

The whole is preceded by a foreword by Timothée Rey, a French SFF-author who's very much in the know about Zelazny's works. He introduces you/the reader to Zelazny's interest in mythology, religion, and alike, and how he took (characters, happenings, quotes, ...) from such texts and books to write his own stories, to place these elements in a more modern setting.

If you're into a lighter kind of Lovecraftian stories (Lovecraft is a very unknown author to me, though I have heard of him and his god Cthulhu) with elements of Steampunk, detective stories, mythology, and spiced with humour in vein of [a:Terry Pratchett|1654|Terry Pratchett|https://images.gr-assets.com/authors/1235562205p2/1654.jpg], [a:Douglas Adams|4|Douglas Adams|https://images.gr-assets.com/authors/1189120061p2/4.jpg], ... then, by all means and even if you're not familiar with Zelazny's works, read this book. Heavily recommended! Yes, even in French.

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I was sent this book by Éditions ActuSF for review. Many thanks to them for the trust.

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Recommended reading: this essay on Zelazny's story ( )
  TechThing | Jan 22, 2021 |
A delightful tale. True, some of the participants come to not-so-good ends, but this book is delightful nonetheless. After all, there's Sherlock Holmes! And a vampire, a werewolf, Frankenstein's monster, gypsies - it just gets better and better.

The story, progressing day by day through the month of October, is narrated by Jack's dog Snuff. He has at first an uneasy truce with the cat Graymalk, the "crazy witch" Jill's familiar, but they develop into good friends as the book progresses. They are players in "The Game" - openers or closers - and everything is coming to a climax on Halloween night when the door between worlds will open.

Meanwhile, there's so much stuff to do! The Things in the wardrobe, the cellar, the mirror - they have to be watched and growled at. Bodies in the cemeteries have to be exhumed at midnight. Old houses and churches need investigating. Energy must be expended running from the crossbow man, not to mention everything needs to be mapped out and calculated to make Halloween night perfect.

I was only able to find one copy of this book at the University of Colorado library and it has definitely seen better days. I heard it will be reissued in paperback. I highly recommend this story. It's a great read for Halloween. ( )
  Chica3000 | Dec 11, 2020 |
Not sure why they called this his greatest ( )
  aldimartino | Nov 24, 2020 |
Not sure why they called this his greatest ( )
  Andy_DiMartino | Nov 24, 2020 |
Viser 1-5 af 65 (næste | vis alle)
Part of the enjoyment of A Night in the Lonesome October comes from recognizing obvious characters and puzzling over the identities of the elusive ones. When I wrote about the origins of this novel in Zelazny’s biography, I took the opportunity to identify the characters I was certain about. Then upon re-reading the novel last year, I became determined to identify everyone. When I stumbled upon the connection to Virginia Woolf (a writer whose works Zelazny admired), I knew that I had a new essay to write. I also wanted it to be accessible to readers who’d enjoy this kind of thing, and so it appeared in The New York Review of Science Fiction. But the identity game may never end. Only Zelazny knew for certain who was who (or did he?), and a NYRSF reader quickly pointed out a better inspiration for the raven Tekela than what I’d proposed. Some readers may dispute my conclusions and others may not want help unmasking the characters. But for those who do want a Who’s Who in A Night in the Lonesome October, here’s a newly revised and accessible version. And what better place for it than an issue of Lovecraft eZine that is offered in tribute to the novel and the author?
 

» Tilføj andre forfattere (4 mulige)

Forfatter navnRolleHvilken slags forfatterVærk?Status
Zelazny, Rogerprimær forfatteralle udgaverbekræftet
Posen, MikeOmslagsfotograf/tegner/...medforfatternogle udgaverbekræftet
Warhola, jamesOmslagsfotograf/tegner/...medforfatternogle udgaverbekræftet
Wilson, GahanIllustratormedforfatternogle udgaverbekræftet

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All is not what it seems . . . In the murky London gloom, a knife-wielding gentleman named Jack prowls the midnight streets with his faithful watchdog Snuff - gathering together the grisly ingredients they will need for an upcoming ancient and unearthly rite. For soon after the death of the moon, black magic will summon the Elder Gods back into the world. And all manner of Players, both human and undead, are preparing to participate. Some have come to open the gates. Some have come to slam them shut. And now the dread night approaches - so let the Game begin. AUTHOR: Roger Zelazny was one of the most revered names in SF and fantasy. During his lifetime he was honoured with numerous prizes, including six Hugo and three Nebula Awards. He died in 1995.

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