21 December 2016

Vintage Nightcap: A Review of My Name is Legion, Roger Zelazny

A Christmas hum vibrates through the house. Our tree glows with expansive warmth as it absorbs the heart-tugging memories of past holidays. In my house, the holiday is not a holiday without the notorious cheeseball to sanctify the blessed day. Cheeseball, a disturbingly delicious concoction of old cheddar, onions, cream cheese, spices processed into a gelatinous ball has altered the course of many a January's fitness regime. My husband's first Christmas with my side of the family found him ill-prepared to the lure of the cheeseball, falling deep into a spellbinding love that, to this day bedazzles him. 

As I gather the ingredients for the making of the ball, I marvel at my December reading propensities. A very vintage month, Ursula K. Le Guin's masterwork, The Left Hand of Darkness soothed my reluctance to read old SF.  Asimov aside, I place full blame on Heinlein. I just do not like that guy, hence the complete ignorance of decades of worthwhile books, and acknowledgements for amazing writers. I bow my head not only in shame but in attempt to unclog the food processor that is bravely attempting to whirl cream cheese together with cheddar. A Christmas miracle is happening folks.

My Name is Legion may have the best cover of any science fiction book in the history of science fiction. Behold the 1970s conception of robotic, SF horror! Unashamed to admit that this book came home because of this robot (for goodness sakes, look at it!), I happily discovered the three novellas within highly entertaining. 

Eerily, the stories foreshadow the creation of a computer network designed to unify the global economy by tracking every aspect of a person's life. Questioning the loss of privacy, our protagonist has the opportunity to destroy his data card, placing him off-grid. Nameless, and untraceable our hero trains himself as an agent-for-hire, willing to commit unspeakable acts, all in the guise of rectitude. As the stories wind in upon themselves, the reader begins to question the protagonist's role. Who is working for the betterment of society? The perception of Big Brother, is murky and surprisingly modern in the way Zelazny approaches this quandary. 

Ending my reading year off with a vintage nightcap, I look to the unexplored possibilities of 2017. May our near future be a creation of our own making, bursting with joy and kindness.

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