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‘A Chorus of the Winds’
Damnation Alley by Roger Zelazny

1969, Berkley, 157 pages

Thanks to Tony Cox for the loan of this book.

Damnation Alley is my first Roger Zelazny book and made me think many a time, ‘Better late than never.’

Damnation Alley is the best action science fiction adventure I have read and really belongs in the Post-Apocalyptic sub-genre. The book is heavily indebted to Hunter Thompson’s Hell’s Angels and corruptly moored in the mores of the 1960s—no better septic pool of the collective soul to anchor the rotting heart of a broken world.

Hell Tanner is the last surviving member of “the Angels” and has bene released from prison to drive a plague cure from The Nation of California to the City State of Boston, with the only other enclave of America to survive nuclear annihilation being Salt Lake City. The vehicles are awesome and must have inspired Mad Max and the Road Warrior.

Hell Tanner is the best anti-hero in fiction and explains his origin like so:

“That’s my name. I was the seventh kid in our family, and when I was born the nurse held me up and said to my old man, ‘What name do you want on the birth certificate?’ and dad said, ‘Hell!’ and walked away. So she put it down like that.”

Hell was an orphan born into nuclear holocaust and destined for mechanical banditry. Zelazny’s story sizzles and makes this writer want to up his game, as he crosses every character development T and dots every outrageous i. Below is an example of his excellent form:

“They entered and the husky man behind the glass-topped desk leaned backward in his chair and wove his short fingers together under his chins and peered over them through eyes just a shade darker than the gray of his hair. His voice was soft and rasped just slightly.”

Damnation Alley is a savage sword of a story that is hard to put down and I was shocked to find out that it was made into a movie starring George Pepard and Jan Michael Vincent, which I mean to watch.

Fat Girl Dancing

Add Comment
LukeJune 14, 2019 11:06 AM UTC

Sounds interesting. We did a bad movie night to commemorate Jan Michael Vincent's passing and I saw the trailer for this, but it actually looked alright. The book sounds like a good read too. In the 1979 movie Phantasm, the main character has a Zelazny book called "My Name is Legion" on his desk. Have you read it?

The plot summary about an all powerful supercomputer that has everyone's data seems quite prescient and brings to mind the idea that sci-fi is not really fiction but a form of conditioning to get people used to dystopian conditions and the domination of all spheres by the powers that be. Since the title is also a reference to demons that Christ battles in the Gospel, it makes me wonder what the connection is.
responds:June 15, 2019 6:21 PM UTC

The book was action packed.

Thanks for the heads up—the title sounds great and Zelazny can write.
WellRead EdJune 13, 2019 3:10 PM UTC

Save yourself the time and pain of watching the movie; it has only the title in common with the book.
responds:June 15, 2019 6:23 PM UTC