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Today We Choose Faces is a 1973 science fiction novel by American writer Roger Zelazny. As originally constructed, Part 1 was an extensive flashback which followed Part 2, but the order of the sections was changed at the request of editor David Hartwell, who felt that the novel worked better in chronological order. Zelazny later wrote, “I was younger then & more in need of the money at the time & couldn’t afford to argue [with] him about it. I still prefer it the way I wrote it.”
The story is set, like many Zelazny pure science fiction novels, a few centuries in the future. The narrator, a Mafia assassin named Angelo di Negri, has been revived from suspended animation by the mostly legitimate successors of the criminal organization, and given a mission to assassinate a scientist on a fortified facility on an otherwise uninhabited planet.
The first part of the novel describes Negri's assault on the planet, in which he begins the attack in a heavily armed and armored space capsule, which is gradually reduced by the formidable defenses to a ground-attack vehicle, which in turn is slowly degraded until Negri abandons it to continue on foot with hand-held weapons, eventually left only with a stiletto.
After he completes the job, the phone rings. This is a motif throughout the story. His victim has managed to survive even the death of his body, and tells Negri that while they were fighting, war has taken place and humanity is near extinction. Only the technology in another building can preserve the remnants. Negri locates the cache, and sets out on the next phase of his story.
Despite also being in the first person, the next part of the novel appears to have nothing to do with Negri. The narrator is a member of some secret cabal scattered throughout the House, a series of artificial environments where people live, never seeing the outdoors. It seems this cabal is in charge of the House, and someone is killing the members one by one.
Each death jolts the others, so they are evidently clones. (As described earlier in the novel, cloning can be accomplished, although clones have some unexplained psychic connection to each other). One of the cabal is the Nexus, the one who can interface with the computer that seems to run everything. Each time a Nexus is killed his consciousness transfers to another member. The narration passes from one Nexus to the next as the killer works his way through his list. Each one gets the memories of his predecessor at the moment of death.
The House has Wings, different sections, connected by Passages, which may really be wormholes in space. Some Wings are residential, some offices, some manufacturing, some maintenance etc. There are also levels within Wings. Wing Null is where the computer is, and also where a series of pins in a circuit board represent stages in the cabal's cleansing of evil instincts and bad memories from its collective personality. This mirrors the avowed purpose of the House - to rid humanity of all the traits which brought about its downfall, so it is fit to be let loose once more. This involves occasionally removing people with undesirable characteristics, in the effort to breed a better human.
The narrator has to deal with an internal demon, a voice that tries to get him to remove the most recent pin. Old memories are not entirely suppressed and manifest themselves in this way. As the menace from the killer - now known as Mr. Black, grows, the voice becomes more persistent until one by one the pins are removed, revealing more about the history of the cabal.
The narrator is further dogged by a woman, whose father was forced to commit suicide by the cabal to suppress an unwanted technology, and who seems to know Mr. Black. This section of the story features running battles through offices, factories and service tunnels, as the narrator hunts and is hunted by Mr. Black. In one scene the narrator is attempting to escape through offices, and as he passes each desk the phone rings in some mocking version of the pursuit.
As the pins are removed the narrator becomes a more capable hunter, and more ruthless. Finally the narrator kills Black, who dies with a smile on his face. It quickly becomes obvious why. Black is another clone, and his personality transfers to one of the cabal.
The narrator fights off the transfer, but realizes that in doing so he has allowed Black to take over one of the others, who are all in Wing Null. Arriving there with the woman in tow, he finds that all but one are dead, and Black has escaped to the Outside. He has also pulled all but the last pin. In a final fight across the same blasted landscape where Negri attacked in the beginning, Black kills the narrator, but then has to deal with the inevitable transfer.
Black becomes the new narrator. He was a stolen clone, but he did not remember his origins. He simply lived in the cracks in the House society, somehow being helped by an unknown party. He eventually became the cabal's nemesis, intent on opening the House and setting humanity free again. But now he is the cabal, with all their conflicting memories and motives. He has to fight his way back to Wing Null, dealing with all the old defenses again.
It becomes obvious that the clones are all related to Angelo Negri. With the pulling of the final pin, Negri's personality is restored. He realizes that the House is a failure. The only thing left to do is to break open the various Wings and shut down the computer. This he does. For the last time, the phone rings. The woman answers. It is the disembodied scientist, who has been manipulating events all along.
Negri tells the woman to take a message.
Zelazny biographer F. Brett Cox called it "as thoughtful, ambitious, and audacious as any of Zelazny's work from the 1960s, and compared its "frantic, one-trapdoor-after-another narrative, with transitions frequently driven by explosive violence and one key sequence represented in eccentric typography" to the work of Alfred Bester, and its "narrative pacing and (...) underlying tale of libertarian revolt against oppressive social engineering" to that of A. E. van Vogt, while also noting the influence of Philip K. Dick's "visions of paranoid existential dread".Richard E. Geis praised it as "the finest novel Roger Zelazny has written in years" and "the perfect combination of sense of wonder, action-suspense, and food-for-thought."
The protagonist's name is Angelo di Negri, which means "Angel of Blacks" in Italian. All of his 12 clones have names which allude to Black, or Angel, or are anagrams of Angel.For example, Engel (German for "angel"), Lange (anagram of "angel"), Winkel (German for "angle", an anagram of angel), Jordan (the angel in Here Comes Mister Jordan), etc. The complete list is shown in the biography within The Collected Stories of Roger Zelazny Volume 3: This Mortal Mountain.
Roger Joseph Zelazny was an American poet and writer of fantasy and science fiction short stories and novels, best known for The Chronicles of Amber. He won the Nebula Award three times and the Hugo Award six times, including two Hugos for novels: the serialized novel ...And Call Me Conrad (1965), subsequently published under the title This Immortal (1966) and then the novel Lord of Light (1967).
The Chronicles of Amber is a series of fantasy novels by American writer Roger Zelazny. The main series consists of two story arcs, each five novels in length. Additionally, there are a number of Amber short stories and other works. Four additional prequel books, authorized by the Zelazny estate following his death, were authored by John Gregory Betancourt.
Jack of Shadows is a science fantasy novel by American author Roger Zelazny. According to him, the name of the book was an homage to Jack Vance. In his introduction to the novel he mentioned that he tried to capture some of the exotic landscapes that are frequent in Vance's work. Zelazny wrote it in first draft, with no rewrites. The novel was serialized in the Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction in 1971 and published in book form that same year. It was nominated for a 1972 Hugo Award and finished #4 in the 1972 Locus Poll for Best Novel.
Creatures of Light and Darkness is a 1969 science fiction novel by American writer Roger Zelazny. Long out of print, it was reissued in April 2010. The novel is set in the far future, with humans on many worlds. Some have god-like powers, or perhaps are gods—the names and aspects of various Egyptian gods are used. Elements of horror and technology are mixed, and it has points in common with cyberpunk.
Nine Princes in Amber is a fantasy novel by American writer Roger Zelazny, the first in the Chronicles of Amber series. It was first published in 1970, and later spawned a computer game of the same name. The first edition of the novel is unusually rare; the publisher pulped a significant part of the original print run in error when the order went out to destroy remaining copies of Zelazny's older book Creatures of Light and Darkness.
The Guns of Avalon is fantasy novel by American writer Roger Zelazny, the second book in the Chronicles of Amber series. The book continues straight from the previous volume, Nine Princes in Amber, although it includes a recapitulation.
Roadmarks is a science fantasy novel by American author Roger Zelazny, written during the late 1970s and published in 1979.
Dilvish, the Damned is a collection of fantasy stories by American writer Roger Zelazny, first published in 1982. Its contents were originally published as a series of separate short stories in various fantasy magazines. Prior to publication, Zelazny's working title for the book was Nine Black Doves. The working title was later re-used for the fifth volume of The Collected Short Stories of Roger Zelazny collection, as a tribute to Dilvish. The storyline begun in this collection was resolved in the novel The Changing Land, which was published before the other Dilvish stories appeared in book form.
Isle of the Dead is a science fiction novel by American writer Roger Zelazny, published in 1969 with cover art by Leo and Diane Dillon. It was nominated for the Nebula Award for Best Novel in 1969, and won the French Prix Apollo in 1972. The title refers to the several paintings by Swiss-German painter Arnold Böcklin. In the novel, Francis Sandow refers to “that mad painting by Boecklin, The Isle of the Dead.” Böcklin created at least five paintings with that title, each depicting an oarsman and a standing figure in a small boat, crossing dark water toward a forbidding island. A later Ace books edition featured a cover painting by Dean Ellis that was deliberately reminiscent of Böcklin's work.
"A Rose for Ecclesiastes" is a science fiction short story by American author Roger Zelazny, first published in the November 1963 issue of The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction with a special wraparound cover painting by Hannes Bok. It was nominated for the 1964 Hugo Award for Short Fiction.
The Dream Master (1966), originally published as a novella titled He Who Shapes, is a science fiction novel by American writer Roger Zelazny. Zelazny's originally intended title for it was The Ides of Octember. The novella won a Nebula Award in 1966.
Here There Be Dragons is a children's book by American writer Roger Zelazny. It is one of two stories he wrote for children, the other being Way Up High, and one of three books without heroic protagonists. The two children's books were first published with separate dust jackets but sold only in shared slipcases bearing the title Here There Be Dragons/Way Up High . One thousand copies of each book were produced in 1992 signed by Zelazny with illustrations by Vaughn Bodē.
Deus Irae is a post-apocalyptic science fiction novel started by American author Philip K. Dick and finished with the help of American author Roger Zelazny. It was published in 1976. Deus irae, meaning God of Wrath in Latin, is a play on Dies Irae, meaning Day of Wrath or Judgment Day. This novel was based on Dick's short story "The Great C".
NESFA Press is the publishing arm of the New England Science Fiction Association, Inc. The NESFA Press primarily produces three types of books:
To Die in Italbar (1973) is a science fiction novel by American writer Roger Zelazny. To Die in Italbar follows Mr. H, a man who needs only to touch someone to heal or hurt them, during a deadly galactic pandemic.
The 32nd World Science Fiction Convention (Worldcon), also known as Discon II, was held on 29 August–2 September 1974 at the Sheraton Park Hotel in Washington, D.C., United States.
This Immortal, serialized as ...And Call Me Conrad, is a science fiction novel by American author Roger Zelazny. In its original publication, it was abridged by the editor and published in two parts in The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction in October and November 1965. It tied with Frank Herbert's Dune for the 1966 Hugo Award for Best Novel.
Way Up High is a children's book by American writer Roger Zelazny. It is one of two stories he wrote for children, the other being Here There Be Dragons, and one of three books without heroic protagonists. One thousand copies of each of the two books signed by Zelazny were published in 1992 with illustrations by Vaughn Bodē.
This is a partial bibliography of American science fiction and fantasy author Roger Zelazny.