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Lord of Light [Paperback]

Roger Zelazny
4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (87 customer reviews)

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Book Description

March 13 1986
Imagine a distant world where gods walk as men, but wield vast and hidden powers. Here they have made the stage on which they build a subtle pattern of alliance, love, and deadly enmity. Are they truly immortal? Who are these gods who rule the destiny of a teeming world? Their names include Brahma, Kali, Krishna and also he who was called Buddha, the Lord of Light, but who now prefers to be known simply as Sam. The gradual unfolding of the story -- how the colonization of another planet became a re-enactment of Eastern mythology -- is one of the great imaginative feats of modern science fiction.
--This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

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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, Amazon.co.uk --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From the Back Cover

Earth is long since dead. On a colony planet, a band of men has gained control of technology, made themselves immortal, and now rules 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.

--This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

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HIS FOLLOWERS CALLED HIM MAHASAMATMAN and said he was a god. Read the first page
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Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Karma Chameleons of the far future Jan. 27 2012
This story is one of my favourites from way long ago when it first came out and I was a hipppie college student who had graduated after doping out dropping acid and flashing back.

It holds up astonishingly well.

I read it again with great pleasure as various people inhabiting the aspects and powers of ancient Hindu gods struggle in a revolution against Heaven.

And Heaven ain't all that heavenly either.

Build up your Karma account and read this one, O you of the 99 percent.

Then revolt against this version of the far future that just might become possible.

Good Karma, this book.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars deep science fiction May 15 2004
Humanity defeats the native "energy" beings that populated the orb and establishes a colony on the planet with a Hindu like societal order. Using advanced technology, the crew of the ship transfers their minds into a new body when theirs is near death. They also develop other advances that enable them to form a pantheon with god-like powers. Beneath them are the colonists and even further below in this pyramid of power are the natives. No one bucks the leadership as not only can they technology reincarnate they can convert others into animals.
One of these techno-Gods, preferring to be called Sam rather than Mahasamatman, feels that the mistreatment of others is morally wrong. He thinks that he and his peers should share their technology with the lower strata. His peers insist those beneath them are incapable of dealing with godlike powers and need their hand to guide them. Sam never claimed the mantle and though he hates what he feels he must do, this "fallen angel" leads a revolt against his ruling brothers and sisters as he wants to establish a different world order.
This is a deep science fiction novel with religious and social overtones. The story line is loaded with action, but also takes its time to defend critical arguments set forth by author Roger Zelazny. The cast fosters the concepts of the plot so that development is targeted more towards an idea than a character. Still with all that this is a cerebral tale that will have readers pondering a host of subjects from comparative religions to white man's burden to fostering American style democracy in Iraq, etc. in a clever novel that will require concentration or one will miss a point.
Harriet Klausner
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
By Kibosh
Format:Mass Market Paperback
Lord of Light is without a doubt, one of the best things I've read (and I've read a LOT, believe me).

I highly recommend this great masterpiece to every serious Sci-Fi/Fantasy fan out there, along with Gibson's Neuromancer, Orwell's 1984, Herbert's Dune (1-6), Harrison's The Hammer and The Cross trilogy - ones of the best novels ever written.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Lord of the Fantastic May 29 2004
Format:Mass Market Paperback
Zelasny walked the thin line between Fantasy and SF probably better that any one. This book shows this like no other.
I cant believe i spent all this years and never read his master piece.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Hi re-read value April 11 2004
By A Customer
Format:Mass Market Paperback
The other reviewers pretty much said it all about this book, which justly deserves its 5 out of 5 stars.
The one small contribution I can make to the collection of rave reviews of this book is:
You know how some books are pretty good but they lose their appeal after the first read? This book has an extremely high re-read value. It's like Neuromancer: I must have read this book 4 or 5 times over the past 15 years, and it remains as good today as it did the first time. The book is so complex and the characters are so rich, that it'll keep your interest on the 2nd reading and beyond.
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5.0 out of 5 stars A Fading Echo April 4 2004
By JR Dunn
Format:Mass Market Paperback
This turned out to be Zelazny's masterpiece. It wasn't supposed to be that way--Zelazny was the '60s version of the guy who was going to hoist SF into the artistic empyrean. That didn't happen. (It never does--see Varley, John, and Gibson, William.) But he did leave behind "Lord of Light", and a few other works that serve as glowing examples of what can be done within an all-too-often infantile form.
The premise is that an interstellar colony has, so long ago that the events are no more than legend, been turned into an effectively eternal dictatorship by the starship crew, who with the aid of advanced tech have acquired the aspects of the Hindu pantheon to lord it over the poor peasantry. (There's also a dour Calvinist theocracy elsewhere on the planet, but that's another story.) The protagonist is Mahatsamatman, known as "Sam", a man who is not, in fact, the Enlightened One, (though everyone insists otherwise) but is close enough. He decides to overthrow the whole miserable structure, and that's the story in a nutshell. Battles, conspiracies, encounters with alien, and not very advanced, energy beings, betrayals, disasters, and all else follow, in the style of the great Hindu epic the Mahabharata, along with plenty of 20th-century wise-guy prose. (Zelazny was also a student of Chandler.) This is a great roaring monster of a book, of a kind that would have a very hard time getting published today. (It's also *structured* like the Mahabharata, with vast chunks of out-of-sequence narrative--the first chapters occur *after* the ensuing two-hundred-odd pages--which would be guaranteed to drive the current generation of editors out of their minds.
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Most recent customer reviews
3.0 out of 5 stars Psychedelicized Gita
Sorry but I just can't quite jump on the bandwagon behind this novel. I know I shouldn't be second-guessing a "classic" - and this book does deserve this consideration... Read more
Published on June 15 2004 by doomsdayer520
4.0 out of 5 stars Dense but Fascinating Exploration of Power
Zelazny successfully weaves a tale of the far-future in which a form of quasi-immortality is achieved by transferring one's mind to new bodies. Read more
Published on March 25 2004 by "jradoff"
5.0 out of 5 stars Sam, the eternal rebel
I've always considered "Lord of Light" (1967) one of the hardest of Zelazny's SF novels to follow. The story line weaves and doubles back upon itself. Read more
Published on March 8 2004 by E. A. Lovitt
3.0 out of 5 stars Not to be contrary, but...
This book didn't grab me as much as I had expected. The description I got was of a thought-provoking look at religion from the perspective of technology; gods being simply highly... Read more
Published on Feb. 15 2004 by Casual reader
5.0 out of 5 stars Difficult but incredibly rewarding classic
This Hugo award-winning science fiction classic turns the usual technological approach to the genre on its head. Read more
Published on Feb. 2 2004 by Claude Avary
2.0 out of 5 stars poorly written and confusing
This book has an interesting premise. People have become Hindu gods. They can re-incarnate themselves. Read more
Published on Jan. 24 2004 by Anne B.
5.0 out of 5 stars An Amazing Work of Science Fiction
This book is the finest example of what Roger Zelazny did best: synthesize fantasy and reality into something truly breathtaking in scope. Read more
Published on Jan. 21 2004 by M. S. MAYFIELD
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