Damnation Alley is a science fiction novel by American writer Roger Zelazny, based on a Barry Malzberg found the book "an interesting novella converted to an unfortunate novel," faulting it as "a mechanical, simply transposed. Damnation Alley [Roger Zelazny] on terney.info *FREE* shipping Sold by: Book Depository US . Author interviews, book reviews, editors' picks, and more. Damnation Alley book. Read reviews from the world's largest community for readers. Hell Tanner isn't the sort of guy you'd mistake for a hero: he's a.
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Damnation Alley is a post-apocalytic tale of survival by the Hugo and Nebula award winner Roger Zelazny. Set in the decades after a. As I read Roger Zelazny's post-apocalyptical adventure Damnation Alley (), the relentless throbbing of Hawkwind's song inspired by. I always get excited when I start Damnation Alley. It opens when Hell Tanner ( which is a great name) hits a passing gull with a flicked cigar butt.
I started skimming toward the end. I keep reading all these old classic Sci-fi books and they keep turning out to be duds. Was Science Fiction such a new genre in the sixties that almost any book with even a vaguely cool idea became a classic? View all 23 comments. In some unstated date in the future, a three day war occurred.
Not a long one, by historical standards,but bad enough Missiles fall on the Earth,and life virtually ceases. Apparently around twenty or thirty years later, the few people still alive , are struggling to survive. This is when Hell Tanner real name ,biker,gangster,killer, all around bad guy, gets a pardon.
He will be free as an eagle,and that bird,is no longer in existence. Neither is the United States just a few petty states , from p In some unstated date in the future, a three day war occurred. Neither is the United States just a few petty states , from prison.
Hell only loves his motorcycle. Which he has just lost. There is a catch of course,go from Los Angeles to Boston,the only relatively large populations, left in the world. Bringing serum to plague infested Boston. Otherwise,no more bean town,they need it very soon,like yesterday! Damnation Alley, the territory,between the cities, it's called that for good reasons. A nuclear wasteland,large sand dunes,debris scattered everywhere,high radiation,not the good kind, with unforgiving winds,craters,volcanoes,tornadoes, deformed vicious,huge animals,biker gangs, ready to kill for fun.
Hell Tanner has a great car,with everything on it,including a flame thrower,guns, grenade launchers,bulletproof, armored plated,like a tank. The vehicle can do anything but fly. Which would kill you quickly.
The strange deserts,with weirder "plants' dominate the land. Pink skies,turning blue soon after,in the radioactive atmosphere,even an inland sea, give this an alien planet feeling. Storms dropping rocks that can crush you.
Complete darkness, in the middle of the day. The worst part that Tanner and his partner Greg see,is the dead cities And they don't stop to look. But love the purple sky over Utah. This may be just another dystopian novel, but it's a very exciting book,better than the quirky,but entertaining Damnation Alley film. View all 5 comments. Dec 19, Jim rated it really liked it Shelves: I was beginning to think I just didn't like reading any more, but I had trouble stopping today at lunch.
In some ways, this isn't one of Zelazny's best novels. In many ways, it's rather trite - a post apocalyptic action yarn with a anti-hero. Except it's not.
Even with the grade-b movie world, it's intriguing. Certainly a great 18Dec Certainly a great character. It's a shame the movie butchered it so bad. Mickey Rourke would have been far better. After an apocalyptic war, one of the worst men does one of the best things for all the wrong reasons - mostly. Hell Tanner, the hero, is not a good man. Zelazny gives this anti-hero a heroic mission to perform. The book is action packed from start to finish, occasionally surprising, in a weird, ravaged version of our modern society.
It too was entertaining, but definitely grade B. View 2 comments. Aug 19, Dan Schwent rated it liked it Recommends it for: Fans of Post-Apoc cheese. Damnation Alley is about a biker named Hell Tanner who has to take some plague serum from LA to Boston, travelling a route called Damnation Alley across the nuclear wasteland that is the United States in a car that might as well be a tank. Along the way he encounters such mutants as giant Gila Monsters, spiders, bats, butterflies, and snakes.
Hell Tanner should be regarded as Snake Plissken's ancestor of sorts. Every time he had dialogue I kept hearing Kurt Russell's voice. The writing is a litt Damnation Alley is about a biker named Hell Tanner who has to take some plague serum from LA to Boston, travelling a route called Damnation Alley across the nuclear wasteland that is the United States in a car that might as well be a tank.
The writing is a little cheesy but it fits with the story. Overall it was enjoyable but nothing fantastic. I'm tempted to track down the movie but there are pictures from it in the middle of the book and they look nothing like I pictured.
Jan Michael Vincent was way too pretty to play Hell Tanner. View all 6 comments. Reread as research for WIP. Hasn't improved any since last time, a great concept poorly executed.
Apr 13, Raegan Butcher rated it liked it Recommends it for: When I read this I was struck by the similarities between the deal offered to Hell Tanner to run the serum thru Damnation Alley to a plague stricken Boston in order to recieve a full pardon for every criminal act he's committed in the Nation of California That sounds a lot like the deal offered to Snake Plissken, who seems to share a lot of other similarities with Hell Tanner, who admittedly came first in Being a big fan of Plissken's exploits I can't help but like this pulpy sci fi When I read this I was struck by the similarities between the deal offered to Hell Tanner to run the serum thru Damnation Alley to a plague stricken Boston in order to recieve a full pardon for every criminal act he's committed in the Nation of California Being a big fan of Plissken's exploits I can't help but like this pulpy sci fi novel.
This is a post-apocalyptic novel of Southern California. Hell Tanner, an imprisoned killer, is offered a full pardon in exchange for taking on a suicide mission—a drive through "Damnation Alley" across a ruined America from Los Angeles to Bostonto deliver an urgently needed plague vaccine.
This copy is signed by Roger Zelazny. View all 4 comments. View 1 comment. This book was sitting in the free bin outside of 2nd and Charles and I thought - why not? It looks short. Plus there's just something about a vintage paperback.
These old books used to be everywhere, at every sale and every used book shop. Now they are a bit of rarity. This is basically non-stop action.
We get a little taste of Hell Tanner's character, but it's mostly non-stop action. There's been a nuclear war and the only remain This book was sitting in the free bin outside of 2nd and Charles and I thought - why not? There's been a nuclear war and the only remaining viable cities are L. A few others are habitable, but those are the big ones.
There's no radio anymore if it wasn't , I'd say no internet and planes can no longer fly as the winds are fierce and full of rubbish. The interior of the US is radioactive. There are gila monsters the size of houses at this point in my description of the setting, my husband Mike laughed out loud , giant spiders the size of people, and all manner of ferocious creatures and equally ferocious human beings.
I think they're wandering around St. Louis with spears. He's the best there is at driving. If anyone can make it, Tanner will. There you have it! That's the story! I liked it well enough. You can't say it's boring.
It's so everyone is smoking. At this point in my narrative, Mike, said - the earth is filled with radiation, it's raining dead fish and garbage, there are giant man-eating gila monsters, and you're worried about smoking? Point taken. I found out they made this into a movie in I'm assuming a B movie? I have no idea, but I have found a copy so I plan on watching it. This isn't as good as Lonesome October by any means, but I'm interested in reading more of Zelazny.
One last item - this is the author bio by Harlan Ellison on my back cover: Zelazny was born in London in , and served King Edward on secret missions in Flanders in ; he also lived under the name of Cyril Tourner for 20 years.
He is married and now lives in Baltimore. View all 9 comments. Aug 10, Bev rated it really liked it Shelves: I hadn't read anything by Zelazny since, oh, maybe I remember loving the short stories in The Doors of His Face, the Lamps of His Mouth, but really couldn't tell you why I never went on to read anything else by him.
Absolutely enjoyed Alley--despite the raw, post-apocalyptic background and the anti-hero that was really hard to like. Is it better that a good man decline to do something for the right reasons or for a bad man I hadn't read anything by Zelazny since, oh, maybe Is it better that a good man decline to do something for the right reasons or for a bad man to do something good for all the wrong reasons?
Half-way through the story I was rooting for Hell Tanner to complete his mission even though I really didn't want him to earn his pardon. Tanner is not your usual hero. A convicted killer, cold-hearted rapist, and drug smuggler, Tanner is given the chance to have all his sins against the state forgiven if he will make the seemingly impossible cross-country journey from California to Boston to deliver much needed medication to a war-ravaged population suffering from plague.
Tanner must cross through the radioactive desert, fight off giant bats and snakes, and ride out violent, unpredictable storms that can dump debris at any time in order to finish his journey.
Even though the subject matter is violent and dystopic, Zelazny writes with a power and poetry that is rare in such hard-nosed science fiction.
His descriptions of the journey leave no doubt about the harsh realities Tanner faces, but draws you into the story and makes you a part of that reality. Four stars out of five on Visual Bookshelf. View all 3 comments.
I gave this a 3 as a tribute to Roger Zelazny. I picked this book up after the movie and barely remember it.
Post apocalyptic America left broken up into police states. Three vehicles heading from L. Dec 20, Manny rated it liked it Shelves: Tough, nasty Hell's Angel with a heart of gold transports a case of vaccine across a post-Holocaust America, to save the inhabitants of plague-ravaged Boston.
It's quite good if you're in the mood for that kind of thing. As several people have pointed out, the main character rather reminds one of Snake Plissken in Escape from New York , though this novel predates the movie. To say that this book--which prefigured both of these comparisons by a goodly distance--is a more Mad Maxy version of "The Road" is no Rolling Stone-esque hogwash, or blind youthful insistence that the contemporary is the all; it is merely and delightfully accurate.
Zelazny was a brilliant writer, and the most lyrical of his genre. It's not that they didn't succeed, it's just that there wasn't anyone to succeed for. Among the many exquisite passages in this little book is what is quite possibly the longest sentence in science fiction, an utterly flawless apocalyptic prose poem that extends slightly beyond two pages.
One who is wise and open returns to it again and again and has trouble moving beyond it, though at this point one is near the end. It is all the more lovely for coming directly after the completion of the most flawed part of the book, a love interest aptly named "Corny", and making it difficult to believe that the man was unaware of his limits that was clearly forced in to flesh out the original story into something which is still barely book-length.
This fleshing is the only thing keeping the book this side of masterpiecedom, and makes one wish that we were better at printing novellas than we are. And then Zelazny comes storming back in to obliterate the mind with Old Testament-style revelations and one no longer cares about anything else, just loves the thing and wishes he were still alive. As a side note, I'd downloadd this along with that holy of holies, "Lord of Light", for a housemate, a young man who works in a welding shop and fashions hefty blades after-hours for his recreation, on account of a barbarian fetish.
Also he is a fan of comics and metal and such; I don't recall what I said when I learned that he hadn't read Zelazny yet, but it was something along the what-the-hell-do-you-mean-you-haven't-! Much to my dismay, our flawed generations have permitted him to lapse out of print again, and it took some doing to even find these two. But these two I found and promptly bought, and then I went home and started reading them myself.
I told my friend that, while I was aware Christmas was approaching, he was just going to have to wait a little longer. This seemed to offend him, but I was steadfast.
I have finished it in time for my friend to return from his holiday vacationing, which is good, as it means that I can hand him his presents freely and not begrudge. Should he petulantly balk, I'll choose the rusty sword without the leather on the handle and offer that he pick up the more polished and comfortable one, and we'll entertain the crackheads by having us a duel in the yard.
A rather Light weight adventure post-apocalyptic story as compared to the epic and iconic "Lords of Light", but written with clever or humorous prose as are usually found in his shorter works such as those found in Zelazny's "The Doors of His Face and other stories". And so, I now know, thanks to Goodreads reviewer "Peter Tillman", this was an expanded version of a novella published in Makes perfect sense. I recall a movie based on this that I saw an eon ago when I was a pre-teen and recal A rather Light weight adventure post-apocalyptic story as compared to the epic and iconic "Lords of Light", but written with clever or humorous prose as are usually found in his shorter works such as those found in Zelazny's "The Doors of His Face and other stories".
I recall a movie based on this that I saw an eon ago when I was a pre-teen and recall that I liked it well enough. Jan 21, Bigal-sa rated it it was ok Shelves: I don't think Zelazny thought the story through properly.
I just reread the book after more than 30 years and was horrified by all the holes in the storyline. I felt no empathy with the hero - there really are better 70s books out there. Nov 08, Evgeny rated it liked it Shelves: A guy on a death row is given a chance to live if he can deliver anti-plague serum from LA to Boston - he happens to be a very good driver.
The problem is, this all takes place in post-apocalyptic US, and the road in question is called Damnation Alley for a reason. Sounds fairly familiar; I can recall quite a few books and movies with the same plot. Still, this is probably one of the first books with such plot; also Roger Zelazny is a Master of science fiction even in his minor efforts such as A guy on a death row is given a chance to live if he can deliver anti-plague serum from LA to Boston - he happens to be a very good driver.
Still, this is probably one of the first books with such plot; also Roger Zelazny is a Master of science fiction even in his minor efforts such as this one, I am sorry to say. Solid 3 stars: Damnation Alley is pure post-apocalyptic cheese, decorated with some ideas of genuine weirdness that uplift an otherwise mediocre by-the-book thriller. Roughly 25 years after a nuclear war, America is a blasted wasteland, with California and Boston the only two nations of any importance left.
Boston is afflicted by a deadly plague, and California has the cure. The problem is the miles of howling atomic desolation between the two. Only one man is bad enough to make the journey; Hell Turner, Damnation Alley is pure post-apocalyptic cheese, decorated with some ideas of genuine weirdness that uplift an otherwise mediocre by-the-book thriller.
Only one man is bad enough to make the journey; Hell Turner, last of the Hell's Angels and vicious killer. And to do it, he has a customized, armor-plated, rocket-packing, flame-throwing, all-terrain driving machine. This book is at it's best when Zelazny is describing the deadly landscape. The sky is full of howling winds carrying the rubble of civilization, which rains down like artillery.
Giant rabid bats and mutated Gila lizards rule the desert. The rest of it just feels very obligatory. Here's places where it's still , before The Bomb. Here's some rustic farmers who are innocent and helpful.
Here's an attack by a motorcycle gang. The problem is that I don't see that edit restored in any of the book versions. So did he decide not to restore it after all? Or was he overruled again? The other edits include a turn of phrase or a line or two here and there, but not big deletions of text. I haven't looked for those specifically in any of the book club editions, but I will when I have time.
Lastly, the biggest omission was the block of text added to the magazine version -- to give backstory at the magazine editor's insistence -- which has never been included in the book versions. This leads me to wonder if Zelazny was mistaken. When he said in an interview that cuts hadn't been restored to the book and that this had been done for a book club edition, I wonder if he'd forgotten that the biggest block of text was ADDED to the magazine version and was not originally cut from the novel?
And did he then decide not to add this to the book club edition after all because it wasn't part of the novel in the first place? It remains an incompletely solved puzzle because Zelazny never specified which book club edition was supposed to have the definitive text. But with the original manuscripts in hand, it is possible to someday have a definitive edition if a publisher chooses to produce it. The only question would be whether or not to include the backstory that was added to the magazine version.
It's very good to see someone making use of it. In This Immortal, the nuclear war is referred to as the Three Days. In "Damnation Alley" the novella , the nuclear war is referred to as the Big Raid. In the novel expansion this is retained, except when Dr. Soames refers to it as the Three Days -- in the same speech where he talks about the Mars and Titan colonies. And one more note about censorship in the Galaxy magazine version of the novella: In the novel, in answer to Greg's question about what Hell would have done with some girls he intended to "grab off," Hell says "Screw 'em and sell 'em, I guess.
For what it's worth, if anyone publishes a definitive version of This Immortal and I hope someone does , I'd omit the backstory that the editor Ed Ferman? Maybe it could be included in an appendix or something, just to get it in there, for the record.
And I'd vote for titling the definitive version ". And call me Conrad. I think there is some textual support for this, because the winds that prevent plane travel are mentioned of a product of the war, and "For these winds circled, and they never ceased.
Tanner shrugged again. I thought they'd cleaned the whole place out? It does seem like an awfully specific reference, and the novel version was published not that long after This Immortal. We do get some references to how much time has passed in This Immortal "It had been over fifty years since the Madagascar Affair", we know that one of Conrad's alter egos was listed as being born two hundred thirty-four years ago, and we know that the colonies had endured almost a century of self-sufficiency.
I'll have to read the book again with this in mind to see how much the shared universe theory can be supported or is refuted by the information we're given. Oops, yes, you're right -- the Big Raid was the raid on the Hell's Angels, nothing to do with the war. To quote Emily Litella: Here's an unrelated question: During Soames' speech, while he's talking about mankind's achievements before the war, he says, "We conquered space.
We lost time. I didn't have a hard copy of the novel until yesterday, and I finally picked one up. There it is in black and white. I'm convinced. Well spotted, sir. Mention of the "Three Days" in both novels is very convincing!
And Call Me Conrad.
Now I'm really curious to know if anyone picked up on this before and asked Zelazny about it. The section of Damnation Alley which refers to the "Three Days" was written specifically for the novel version, when he expanded the novella at his agent's suggestion.
This was a year or more after he'd written the novella. So the idea to link up the novels may have come about after writing the novella.
Just now I checked the galleys of Damnation Alley that bear Zelazny's final edits in pencil but the "Three Days" is already there in typescript. The pencilled-in changes include other things such as changing the weapon the guard carries at the beginning from a sawed-off shotgun to a pistol.
I don't know why; maybe it just fit better in the back seat of the car and on his lap. I also checked Volume 3 of The Collected Stories, where the novella appears, and there's enough room on p of the Notes section for me to be able to add mention of the connection between Damnation Alley and This Immortal when that volume has a second edition published, possibly later this year.
And then if V2 gets a third edition, I'll add mention of it to the relevant notes for And squeeze the name Chris DeVito into the acknowledgments section somehow An easy way to cite your source, as it were, would be to list the URL for this page.
That might help generate some more interest in JJ's Zelazny commentaries. And do you have any speculations or information about Soames' enigmatic statement, "We lost time"? I've been puzzling over that line.
We conquered space. We had a United Nations. But what happened? Three lousy days, that's what, and everything went to hell In other words, "we were doing so well, moving out into space, and now we've wasted years because of this stupid war and its consequences About credits - I'll be crediting Josh for the green eyes motif that I'd not noticed before.
But if I can work it in somehow, I will. Josh, you've generated a hell of a discussion. Glad to see people are sitting up and taking notice.
And nice redesign. As for Damnation Alley, it was never my favorite, and you've put your finger on why I always had trouble with it -- parts of it really do read as if someone else was aping Zelazny. And it definitely promises more than it delivers. Having said that, I like the economy of the shorter version, but there's some lovely writing in the novel.
Welcome back, and thanks! I'm glad that the blog is attracting so many excellent commenters, though I find it a little strange because everyone seems to know more about Zelazny than I do.
At the end of the story notes for "Damnation Alley" I plan to add something like this: The novel adds Evelyn with blue-green eyes. In both novels, characters refer to the "Three Days" of nuclear war that laid waste to the Earth.
Soames describes how much of humanity fled to the Mars and Titan colonies and wonders if they will ever return; he also mentions that the big cities were destroyed and that only people in the islands Greek, Caribbean, Japan, etc. Three characters separately observe that the winds are dying down and wonder that the Earth may be purging itself.
The second edition may be finalized by then and going to print soon after. I can't think of anything else. Thanks for including us. It's really great to make even a small contribution to a work I've really enjoyed. I suspect Zelazny liked it. Zelazny shout out! Reviews and Interviews. Damnation Alley. There were no windows in the vehicle, only screens which reflected views in every direction, including straight up and the ground beneath the car.
Tanner sat within an illuminated box which shielded him against radiation. The "car" that he drove had eight heavily treaded tires and was thirty-two feet in length. It mounted eight fifty-caliber automatic guns and four grenade-throwers. It carried thirty armor-piercing rockets which could be discharged straight ahead or at any elevation up to forty degrees from the plane.
Each of the four sides, as well as the roof of the vehicle, housed a flamethrower. Razor-sharp "wings" of tempered steel, eighteen inches wide at their bases and tapering to points, an inch and a quarter thick where they ridged, could be moved through a complete hundred-eighty-degree arc along the sides of the car and parallel to the ground, at a height of two feet and eight inches.
When standing at a right angle to the body of the vehicle, eight feet to the rear of the front bumper, they extended out to a distance of six feet on either side of the car. They could be couched like lances for a charge. They could be held but slightly out from the sides for purposes of slashing whatever was sideswiped.
The car was bulletproof, air-conditioned, and had its own food locker and sanitation facilities. A long-barreled. You don't care about them, and you know it! I just want to tell you that I think you are the lowest, most reprehensible human being I have ever encountered.
You have killed men and raped women. You once gouged out a man's eyes, just for fun. You've been indicted twice for pushing dope, and three times as a pimp. You and your hoodlums terrorized decent people when they were trying to pull their lives together after the war. You stole from them and you assaulted them, and you extorted money and the necessaries of life with the threat of physical violence. I wish you had died in the Big Raid that night, like all the rest of them. You are not a human being, except from a biological standpoint.
You have a big dead spot somewhere inside you where other people have something that lets them live together in society and be neighbors. The only virtue that you possess, if you want to call it that, is that your reflexes may be a little faster, your muscles a little stronger, your eye a bit more wary than the rest of us, so that you can sit behind a wheel and drive through anything that has a way through it. It is for this that the nation of California is willing to pardon your inhumanity if you will use that one virtue to help rather than hurt.
I don't approve. I don't want to depend on you, because you're not the type. I'd like to see you die in this thing, and while I hope that somebody makes it through, I hope that it will be somebody else. I hate your bloody guts. You've got your pardon now. The car's ready. Let's go. When morning came, many hours later, he took a pill to keep himself alert and listened to the screaming of the wind.
The sun rose up like molten silver to his right, and a third of the sky grew amber and was laced with fine lines like cobwebs. The desert was topaz beneath it, and the brown curtain of dust that hung continuously at his back, pierced only by the eight shafts of the other cars' lights, took on a pinkish tone as the sun grew a bright red corona and the shadows fled into the west.
He dimmed his lights as he passed an orange cactus shaped like a toadstool and perhaps fifty feet in diameter.
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