Book: Lord of Light

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Lord of Light

Author: Roger Zelazny
Publisher: Eos

In a distinguished career which produced many bold, award-winning works, this towering tale of invention and adventure may be Roger Zelazny’s single most brilliant achievement.

Earth is long since dead. On a colony planet, a band of men has gained control of technology, made themselves immortal, and now rule their world as the gods of the Hindu pantheon. Only one dares oppose them: he who was once Siddhartha and is now Mahasamatman. Binder of Demons, Lord of Light.


In the 1960s, Roger Zelazny dazzled the SF world with what seemed to be inexhaustible talent and inventiveness. Lord of Light, his third novel, is his finest book: a science fantasy in which the intricate, colorful mechanisms of Hindu religion, capricious gods, and repeated reincarnations are wittily underpinned by technology. “For six days he had offered many kilowatts of prayer, but the static kept him from being heard On High.” The gods are a starship crew who subdued a colony world; developed godlike—though often machine-enhanced—powers during successive lifetimes of mind transfer to new, cloned bodies; and now lord it over descendants of the ship’s mere passengers. Their tyranny is opposed by retired god Sam, who mocks the Celestial City, introduces Buddhism to subvert Hindu dogma, allies himself with the planet’s native “demons” against Heaven, fights pyrotechnic battles with bizarre troops and weapons, plays dirty with politics and poison, and dies horribly but won’t stay dead. It’s a huge, lumbering, magical story, told largely in flashback, full of wonderfully ornate language (and one unforgivable pun) that builds up the luminous myth of trickster Sam, Lord of Light. Essential SF reading. —David Langford,

Barnes and Noble

Lord of Light—the 1968 Hugo Award–winning novel that is arguably Roger Zelazny’s magnum opus—has been unearthed by the editors at Eos so that science fiction neophytes can bask in the timeless illumination of this epic karmic classic.

Zelazny, an unparalleled master at analyzing and recreating mythologies (Egyptian deities in Creatures of Light and Darkness, the Tarot in his Amber Chronicles, etc.), focuses on Hinduism and the many aspects of reincarnation in Lord of Light. On a distant planet in a distant future, a small group of colonists from Earth have developed godlike abilities and, after countless bodily incarnations, rule as tyrants over a world of their luckless descendants. The gods have kept the mere mortals in a perpetual preindustrial age, supposedly protecting them from themselves, but one immortal opposes them—Mahasamatman, also known as Siddhartha, or Sam for short. Over many lifetimes, and in many incarnations, Sam heroically fights to overthrow the egomaniacal gods and destroy their heavenly Celestial City. He introduces Buddhism to the Hindu masses, sets free an army of demons, and outwits even the most devious gods.

In a weird way, the character of Sam the Enlightened One, a.k.a. the Lord of Light, perfectly embodies Zelazny and his writing—brilliant beyond description, unfathomably deep in substance and epic in scope, predictably unpredictable, and irreverent to the end. Lord of Light is just as powerful today as it was almost four decades ago: a sign of a true classic. —Paul Goat Allen

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