Manna from Heaven Hardcover – May 29 2006
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
If the 'Amber' stories were ALL that this edition offered, I'd still give the book three or four stars. What a joy to discover that "Manna From Heaven" is FULL of quality fiction by Roger Zelazny, and that many of the other stories in this book even manage to surpass its 'Amber' material! I've read several anthologies of Zelazny's short stories, and I've enjoyed them all, but "Manna From Heaven" EASILY takes the cake!
Aside from the 'Amber' shorts, which were great by the way, I particularly enjoyed "Kalifriki of the Thread" and the title story, "Mana From Heaven" [sic]. These stories were so good that I was surprised not to have seen them collected elsewhere. (Makes you wonder what other Zelazny goodies may still be lying around in the vault???). Naturally, some of the tales in this collection are more compelling than others, but not a single story falls flat. Each carries its own weight. This is unusual enough for any collection of short stories, but as a fan of Roger Zelazny's work, I was also intrigued by the fact that these selections represented a fair cross section of his work as an adult author-- several of the short stories in this volume were from Zelazny's later years, but "Manna From Heaven" also includes a couple of wonderful unpublished pieces from Roger's pre-fame college days!
I would recommend this collection for all readers, whether they're already fans of Zelazny's work, or merely readers who enjoy a well-crafted short story. There's truly something for just about everybody between these two covers.
The "non-Amber" stories in the book, IMHO, varied greatly in quality. I can certainly understand why some of them have been reprinted so infrequently. On the other hand, some Zelazny is better than no Zelazny, so I would still recommend purchasing this collection.
In the introduction, writer Steven Brust glows and gushes about Zelazny's genius, praising his ability to "simultaneously confuse and reassure" the reader. I know just what he means! OK, I don't feel quite like Zelazny was a genius, but I have immense respect for his talent, and I get what Brust is saying. I have to admit that a few of the short pieces (they range from a third of a page to 37 pages in length) left me shaking my head, glancing back at various passages, and generally asking "wha'appen?" But I found most of them enjoyable, anyway. It's the journey, and Zelazny isn't afraid to let his readers lose the path and try to find it again.
"Epithalamium" was a fun piece in which we meet an elderly Alice, sent back through the looking glass; I also liked "The Furies," in which three eccentric but oddly gifted individuals join forces to track a fugitive across the planets and capture him... all from the comfort of home.
The concluding Amber pieces were a brief but melancholy last look into this universe sprung from Zelazny's imagination. Each story was interesting and enjoyable, especially "Coming To A Cord," which is told from the perspective of an intelligent, animate, uh, length of string. The Amber stories left me a bit melancholy, though. It was clear that Zelazny had more to say about Amber and its counterpart world, Chaos, and there are hints here at new intrigues, twists and turns that the author would never have the chance to explore. And that is our loss.