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Conrad Nomikos Has A Long, Rich Personal History That He D Rather Not Talk About And, As Arts Commissioner, He S Been Given A Job He D Rather Not Do Escorting An Alien Grandee On A Guided Tour Of The Shattered Remains Of Earth Is Not Something He Relishes Especially When It Is Apparent That This Places Him At The Center High Level Intrigue That Has Some Bearing On The Future Of Earth Itself As you can tell from the title, This Immortal is about an immortal The Earth is in bad shape after a three day nuclear exchange and most people have fled Earth for Vega where they are second class citizens Conrad, the immortal of the title, is tasked with escorting a Vegan on a tour of various Earth ruins, accompanied by several other people, most of which want the Vegan dead and the Earthlings on Vega to come home Despite the length of time it took me to read this, I liked it a lot The characters were interesting, especially Conrad and Hasan, the assassin tasked with killing the Vegan The odd relationship beween Conrad and Hasan was probably my favorite part of the book The ending was also a surprise, which is the highest honor I give a book these days. How can I describe a plot of a book with less than 150 pages the book that has alien spies, unstoppable assassins, mutants, a vampire created by scientific means , a secret terrorist organization, several exciting and deadly fistfights, and a seemingly immortal guy I will not even try to pretend my writing skills is anywhere close to those of Zelazny and honestly say I cannot describe the plot Below is my pitiful attempt to do so anyway After the total nuclear holocaust the Earth is not what it used to be The number of people is greatly reduced, but there are lots of deadly mutants roaming around Luckily for human survivors an alien race from Vega stumbled upon them and help somewhat Now of of these guys decided to make a pilgrimage among the places of the oldest human civilizations, most notably Greek the book has quite a few references to Greek myths Conrad Nomikos looked like the best guide there is The only problem is, he had no clue about his assignment and he was not exactly crazy to accept it Anything else I say beyond this would be a spoiler and it seems to be a shame to spoil this one Being clueless during in the beginning of Zelazny s book is quite normal and expected In fact the moment I find a book of his where everything is clear from the start I would be 100% sure I found a fake What was unusual about this book was very rapid transition between WTF and unputdownable who needs sleep One paragraph I still had no clue and the very next one I decided that the sleep is for wimps and I really do not need that much of it I can even pinpoint the exact place a voodoo session.This is the first published Zelazny novel he has some short stories published before If you think first published means weak, think again that year it shared a Hugo Award for Best Novel with another book The name of that second book Dune Yes, the first book that comes to mind the moment anybody mentions science fiction In my humble opinion This Immortal is equally good How comes Dune remains better known Once again in my opinion Dune is accessible and there is nothing wrong with it Zelazny is acquired taste in the sense that his writings are subtle This would be the reason I do not recommend getting to know Zelazny with this book If you are familiar with him and have not read this one what are you waiting for Me, I will be busy for the next couple of hours kicking myself for not reading this one earlier To reduce the sense of guilt somewhat I went ahead and added all of his major works I missed so far to my to read shelf I am still sad the genius of science fiction died so early We, the readers, are poorer because we will never read the stories he could tell, but did not have time to A moment of silence pleaseAfter all I said above can you guess the rating It should be obvious. This is a lot of fun to read one of my favorite books of all time Post apocalyptic earth is being toured by an alien, whose species helped save us after we mostly blew up our home The tour guide, Conrad, who tells the story from his POV most of the trip is through a surreal blending of SF diverse mythology brought to life by radiation It s short, quirky, simple on the surface, but there are offhand references, names partial quotes that make this story a bit of a treasure hunt They also enhance the meaning of so many simple phrases often lend it a poetic feel It reads best you are well read in the classics mythology It doesn t hurt to know something of Zelazny If you ve never read his work before, I wouldn t suggest starting with this one Probably the Amber series, starting with Nine Princes in Amber is the best One of the best guides to this story is contained in NESFA s Power Light, the second of their Complete Works of Roger Zelazny There the editors have published the novel in its original form in 2 parts, a novella Besides some words from Zelazny himself, they have also included explanations at the end of each which explain many most of the references They did quite a good job of it In expanding this to a novel, Zelazny didn t really add all that much to it nothing that matters too much.If anyone ever wants to do a group read of this, please let me know I would absolutely LOVE to. Do you not see a convergence of life and myth, here, during the last days of life on this planet Somewhere between Heart of Darkness and Tales of the Dying Earth , Roger Zelazny found once again a story to tell about ordinary people acting like Gods in the desolate aftermath of a world war Lord of Light may be my favorite book in the Zelazny catalog, but This Immortal comes real close on its heels Instead of exploring the intricacies of the Hindu Pantheon, this time the author goes for the classical Greek mythologyWhat is wrong with being born on Christmas The gods, deem it a bit presumtuous For this reason, children born at that time are not of human blood They are called the kallikanzaroi Ideally, they look something like those guys with horns and hooves and all, but they don t have to They could look like me, my parents decided if they were my parents So they left me on a hilltop, to be returned Born under a bad sign, Conrad tries to make the best of the hand Fate has dealt him Either though a godlike intervention or as a by product of radiation from a nuclear war that has destroyed the planet, Conrad has become an immortal, a sort of Earth spirit that has refused to abandon his home when the rest of the human survivors of the cataclysm have fled to the stars, to become refugees on the planets ruled by the advanced Vegan civilization.With his mutant genes, Conrad has inherited also some of the sly intelligence of his ancestor Odysseus, enabling him to switch identities and trick databases from pinpointing his real age Known at various times as a kallikanzaroi, a terrorist, a mutant, a changeling, Nomikos, Karaghiosis, OzymandiasI walked on through the mess time makes of greatness, Conrad is at the beginning of the story ignoring dire warnings from his girlfriend CassandraI have a feeling, she said, that you are heading into some sort of dangerand embarks on a mission for the planetary government, on which he serves as Commissioner of Arts, Monuments and Archives He is supposed to guide a VIP alien from Vega on a tour of the Old Earth ruins ancient Egypt, Greece, Rome, etcWho is Cort Myshtigo Vegan actor, journalist Important one Wants to write about what s left of Earth So I ve got to show it to him Me Personally Damn Cort Myshtigo may have a secret agenda for inspecting the Earth either to develop it as a tourist resort for rich Vegans or to recommend abandoning the planet altogether Conrad and the rest of the humans who refused to go into exile, some of them also hiding supernatural powers, are too poor to to survive without Vegan handouts, yet too proud to become third rate immigrants for the aliens So they roll down the red carpet for Cort Myshtigo and assign Conrad to find out what the deal truly isThe Vegans would like to get the home world problem off their hands Sure, they want to visit it It is instructive, sobering, humbling, and downright frightening for them to come here and see what can be done to a world The journey through the broken down Earth, filled with Hot spots of radiations, mutant beasts and myths roaming the deserts of North Africa and the rocky hills of Peloponnese is instructive, sobering, humbling and downright frightening for the reader, too Conrad discovers that an assassin or two has infiltrated his party and is forced to act as the alien s bodyguard even as he decides if it would not be better to kill the damn tourist himself There s a lot of action in this short story, and wily tricks played by the Greek on his companionsBorn to knot a tiger s tail, that is the saying for people such as you, but in the end the novel becomes an elegy for what was lost in the collective madness of our human race The forces of final disruption were already goose stepping amidst the ruins, arms upraised Conrad Nomikos Karaghiosis may look as ugly as sin to an outsider, but he has the power of the earth running through his blood Like Antaeus he draws strength from the land and he may yet guide us towards an Earth reborn I don t want to spoil the outcome of his confrontation with homegrown terrorists, alien spies and reawakened mythological bests, but I recommend you try this intense post apocalyptic story for yourself.