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Doorways in the Sand [Hardcover]

Roger Zelazny
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)

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Book by Zelazny, Roger

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5.0 out of 5 stars The slings and death-rays of outrageous fortune March 2 2004
Format:Hardcover
Roger Zelazny specializes in devil-may-care, chain-smoking, hard-drinking, appealing young men and his "Doorways in the Sand" features Fred Cassidy, the eternal undergraduate with a very strong case of acrophilia--he loves to climb things. We meet him as he drops into the third-floor office of his latest advisor---through the window of course. Fred has gone through many advisors in his twelve-year stint as an undergraduate--his late uncle's estate will only support him up to the moment when he is awarded a degree--but this particular advisor seems to have a grudge against him. He thinks he has Fred trapped in a schedule that will force him to graduate.
Fred manages to escape the dread specter of graduation one more time by signing up for field work in Australia, a literature course on troubadours, and two hours credit for advanced basket weaving.
He has other problems, though. There are the strange messages that sometimes appear as sky-writing: "DO YOU SMELL ME DED?" His old roommate gets married, and when Fred attempts to lure a newer, more beautiful model into his apartment, she bolts upon encountering a state of total dishevelment. It's not Fred's fault. Someone has done a thorough job of ransacking his digs. Furthermore, that someone is now waiting for him in his bedroom closet.
Where is the starstone, Fred?
Many shootings, beatings, narrow escapes, eccentric professors, and aliens-on-a-mission later, we (and Fred) finally discover the missing starstone.
Fred's nasty, pipe-smoking advisor finally figures out a way to make him graduate.
Then Fred's adventures really begin.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.4 out of 5 stars  29 reviews
20 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The slings and death-rays of outrageous fortune March 2 2004
By E. A. Lovitt - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
Roger Zelazny specializes in devil-may-care, chain-smoking, hard-drinking, appealing young men and his "Doorways in the Sand" features Fred Cassidy, the eternal undergraduate with a very strong case of acrophilia--he loves to climb things. We meet him as he drops into the third-floor office of his latest advisor---through the window of course. Fred has gone through many advisors in his twelve-year stint as an undergraduate--his late uncle's estate will only support him up to the moment when he is awarded a degree--but this particular advisor seems to have a grudge against him. He thinks he has Fred trapped in a schedule that will force him to graduate.
Fred manages to escape the dread specter of graduation one more time by signing up for field work in Australia, a literature course on troubadours, and two hours credit for advanced basket weaving.
He has other problems, though. There are the strange messages that sometimes appear as sky-writing: "DO YOU SMELL ME DED?" His old roommate gets married, and when Fred attempts to lure a newer, more beautiful model into his apartment, she bolts upon encountering a state of total dishevelment. It's not Fred's fault. Someone has done a thorough job of ransacking his digs. Furthermore, that someone is now waiting for him in his bedroom closet.
Where is the starstone, Fred?
Many shootings, beatings, narrow escapes, eccentric professors, and aliens-on-a-mission later, we (and Fred) finally discover the missing starstone.
Fred's nasty, pipe-smoking advisor finally figures out a way to make him graduate.
Then Fred's adventures really begin.
"Doorways in the Sand" is vintage Zelazny, which is to say it is like taking a course in philosophy while crawling about between the gargoyles on the cathedral of Life, dodging the slings and death-rays of outrageous villains, some of them bug-eyed monsters. This author makes you smile, engage in a bit of late-night philosophizing over a few cold ones, and root wildly for his cocky-but-likeable heroes.
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Third Gargoyle From The End Aug. 27 2006
By Marc Ruby™ - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Mass Market Paperback
If you haven't read any Roger Zelazny it's about time you got started. He was one of the best science fiction writers of the late 20th Century, and arguably one of the great ones of any time. His scope and output are immense, and he is one of the most consistent of writers, always trying out new ideas and making them work. Doorways in the Sand was written in the same era as Lord of Light and the early Amber books and while it is not well known, it is brilliant in its own right.

Fred Cassidy has a gimmick - the terms of his scholarship guarantee that it will continue until he completes a degree. And so, for the past thirteen years Fred has managed to stay a full time student and carefully evade the conditions for graduation. Suddenly, though, his carefree lifestyle has become more complicated at a recent party a copy of the Star Stone - an interplanetary relic that has been gifted to earth as part of a diplomatic exchange -- disappears. Only it turns out that the copy isn't a copy, but the real thing. Now no one knows where it is, but it's gone, and everyone from organleggers to policemen dressed in wombat suits are chasing after Fred.

Worse, Fred keeps getting subliminal messages that may or may not be well intentioned. With the galactic future of the Earth at stake, Fred's only resource is his ability to climb anything with more than one story. Fortunately this stands him in good stead, since he must spend a good deal of his time escaping. Just ask yourself how you would feel in the grasp of a giant, telepathic slime mold.

It was a real treat to reread Doorways in the Sand after all this time. This was an era where an author could stop long enough for his characters to have a philosophical discussion and a glass of iso-whiskey. Zelazny's books are usually intelligent, and Fred's circumstances are such that only his mind and his skill at leaping tall buildings will get him out of the mess. Having delayed my graduation as long as I could as well, I find Fred highly sympathetic. And if you have ever wished that life could be one long string of research projects and beer parties you will find him a kindred soul as well.
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Engaging and original romp June 28 2000
By Richard R. Horton - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
_Doorways in the Sand_ has been a favorite Zelazny novel of mine since I read it in the Analog serialization in 1976. On recent rereading, it was pretty much as good as I remembered. Fred Cassidy is a permanent student, partly because he likes learning, partly because he continues to draw from his rich Uncle's trust fund as long as he is in college. Meantime various advisors scheme to get him to graduate, while Fred, an acrophiliac, climbs all over the roofs of the college town. But all of a sudden he has a lot more to worry about. Various beings seem convinced he knows the whereabouts of the alien "starstone", a cultural artifact given to Earth in exchange for the British Crown Jewels and the Mona Lisa, and the maintenance of which in good condition is essential to Earth's nascent status in Galactic civilization. These folks memorably include some alien cops who like to dress up as marsupials. There follows a lot of action, all well done if sometimes a bit implausible, and a decent resolution involving a not absurd view of our place in the universe, etc. etc. It's not a great novel, but it's great fun.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A classic of speculative fiction by a master tale spinner. July 3 1997
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
Those familiar with Zelazney's other more famous works, such as his Amber Series will be treated well with this book. Fred Cassidy, the book's main character, is the perpetual student, moving around the bureacracy with the ease of an ice skater. An equally crafty advisor graduates him in time to become embroiled with a galactic conpiracy involving The Britsh Crown Jewels and an alien crystal with some very interesting properties.

Don't be fooled, this is science fiction. No dragons or unicorns, the bad guys carry guns, and the good guys have peanut butter sandwiches.
It's also not a hero story. Fred needs all the help he can get, and suffers a number of reversals along the way.

An excellent read, a good laugh, and a very likeable character.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An all-time classic April 22 2000
By Froggy Fan - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Mass Market Paperback
Doorways in the Sand is one of my alltime favorites in the genre. Though Zelazny's overall quality can vary from brilliant to mediocre to damn near incomprehensible (and I've read nearly everything he's written), this book is by far his best effort. Make no mistake, it's not a simple read and is nowhere near as straightforward as the (first) Amber Chronicals; Zelazny makes his readers work for their enjoyment, so he's not an author for the lazy-minded, but at his best he uses every single word to its fullest extent. People who really appreciate the beauty of well-written English (without being word snobs) will love this book! Doorways can be a little bit difficult to track--the action flips back and forth in a bewildering series of flash-backs and -forwards--but unlike many authors who play with sudden changes in perspective, Zelazny carries this off. I find new, clever, sometimes hilariously funny details each time I re-read it, and I've re-read it many, many times. In fact it's a tragedy that this book is out of print because my copy is shortly going to fall to pieces!
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