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Prominent Poles

Roger Zelazny, Polish-American science fiction writer

Photo of Roger Zelazny, writer

Born:  May 13, 1937, Cleveland, Ohio, USA

Died:  June 14, 1995, Santa Fe, New Mexico, USA

Introduction.For years Roger Zelazny (aka Harrison Denmark) has been one of science fiction readers' favorite writers and no small wonder with books such as Lord of Light, Damnation Alley, Doorways, and the trilogy of stories collected in the book My Name Is Legion. Winner of five Hugos and other awards, his death was a tragic event for readers of science fiction and fantasy.

Early days. On May 13, 1937 Roger Joseph Zelazny was born in Cleveland, Ohio, an only child of Josephine Sweet Zelazny and Joseph Frank Zelazny. His father emigrated from Poland when he was a young man and met Josephine Sweet in Chicago. Roger's childhood was spent in Euclid, Ohio in a rural area on an acre of property. As an only child he had plenty of time to read and obtained books from the school library. At the age of eleven he began reading science fiction, reading anything he could find and from the few science fiction magazines available he became familiar with the works of Heinlein, Bradbury, and Sturgeon among others. In high school Roger Zelazny was the editor of the school newspaper and joined the Creative Writing Club.
Higher education. In the fall of 1955 he began attending college at Western Reserve and graduated with a B.A. in English in 1959. He then went to Columbia University in New York where he specialized in Elizabethan and Jacobean drama. Roger Zelazny graduated with a M.A. in 1962 and went to work for the Social Security Administration in Cleveland, Ohio, and Baltimore, Maryland.
Starts writing.Marriage. At the same time he started writing and publishing science fiction stories. On August 20, 1966 he married Judith Alene Callahan.
Success. The late sixties was a period of great output during which he published dozens of short stories and some of his best novels. With both critical and commercial success at hand, Roger Zelazny quit in 1969 the Social Security Administration and became a full time writer. Since 1994 till his death caused by cancer complications, he lived in Santa Fe with his friend the novelist Jane Lindskold. His stories draw from religion, mythology, and psychology and unlike the doomsayers of SF, Zelazny is an optimistic writer. He became a leading and representative figure of the US New Wave, writing stories whose emphasis had shifted from the external world of the hard sciences to the internal worlds explorable through disciplines like psychology (mostly Jungian), sociology and linguistics. To a greater extent than any of his colleagues, however, Roger Zelazny expressed this shift by using in his work mythological structures -- some traditional, some new-minted.
Awards. Six Hugo Awards: 1966 Novel "And Call Me Conrad", 1968 Novel "Lord of Light" , 1976 Novella "Home Is the Hangman," 1982 Novelette "Unicorn Variation," 1986 Novella "24 Views of Mt. Fuji, by Hokusai," and 1987 Novelette "Permafrost." In addition, three Nebulas: 1965 Novella "He Who Shapes," 1965 Novelette "The Doors of His Face, the Lamps of His Mouth," 1975 Novella "Home Is the Hangman;" and two Balrog Awards: 1980 Short Fiction "The Last Defender of Camelot," and 1984 Collection/Anthology Unicorn Variations, and various others.

This biography is almost entirely based on the work of Theodore Krulik. Permission to use it was granted by William Tienken owner of the Webpage
For extensive reviews of Zelazny’s works see:
The Golden Circle

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Prominent Poles