The story has also been published with the name “… and call me Conrad”.
It’s part of my 9 books for 2009 –challenge.
In this story Zelazny mixed post-apocalyptical world with ancient myths and a dash of space opera.
Conrad Nomikos is an immortal. How long he’s lived isn’t clear but he could have been around since ancient Greece. He’s cagey about it, though. He has lived through the Three Days, when a lot of the Earth turned into radioactive sludge. Later, he resisted the blue skinned alien Vegans when they turned Earth into their amusement park and he’s still trying to resist them in his own way.
Currently, he’s the Commissioner of the Earthoffice Department of Arts, Monuments, and Archives. He’s been put into a position he loathes; a tour guide to a rich Vegan, Cort Myshtigo, who wants to visit select places on Earth. When other people around the small office hear where the Vegan and Conrad are headed, they want to come along, too. Among them are Conrad’s ex girlfriend, his best friend, and Hasan who is called the Assassin. But first, the Vegan wants to see a voodoo ceremony. Reluctantly, Conrad agrees even though he’s not sure if there are any genuine voudoun priests anymore. However, the ceremony was a bit more than any of them expected.
Zelazny takes his readers for a wild ride considering how thin the book is; the old paperback I have is little over 200 pages. Most of the Earth is covered in radiation which gives birth to weird creatures which even resemble beings out of old Greek myths such as satyrs and centaurs. Some other myths have come to live, too; wild people who live in the forests and capture and eat others, and even a Dead Man walking and killing.
Most of the humans don’t live on Earth anymore. There’s a mention of colonies in our solar system and some live on Vega as poor workers. It turned out that Vegan males and human females are attracted to each other and so some of the women wanted to move to Vega. The Vegan senses are different from humans and so the humans on the alien planet can’t really integrate into the Vegan society. The Vegans were the ones who rescued humans from their nuclear war and gave humans another place to live.
Conrad himself is a striking figure; he’s taller than most humans and he’s also stronger. On the other hand, he has a limp and half of his face is incredibly ugly. I think there’s even some fungus growing on his face. Despite that, he manages to attract beautiful women to himself (of course…). During the fight against the Vegans he was a terrorist and he’s still a formidable fighter.
The rest of the party seems like archetypes. There’s the Assassin who is also a formidable fighter. He keeps to himself and talks little. Phil is Conrad’s best friend and married to Conrad’s ex-girlfriend. There’s Diane who hates Vegans passionately and tries to persuade Conrad to kill Myshtigo. Myshtigo himself doesn’t feel very alien but he’s also not talkative.
However, when these are mixed together they feel like a new interpretation of the old myths. The book is definitely worth reading.