PseudoPod 488: A Thing Of Terrible Beauty

by Roger Zelazny

“A Thing Of Terrible Beauty” was first published in Fantastic Stories of Imagination, April 1963.

Roger Zelazny (1937 – 1995) 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. In his stories, Roger Zelazny frequently portrayed characters from myth, depicted in the modern world. Zelazny was also apt to include numerous anachronistic present-day elements and references to various drama classics into his fantasy and science-fiction works. His crisp, minimalistic dialogue also seems to be somewhat influenced by the style of wisecracking hardboiled crime authors, such as Raymond Chandler or Dashiell Hammett. The tension between the ancient and the modern, surreal and familiar was what drove most of his work. He has a crustacean named after him! Many thanks to Trent Zelazny for working with us to share this story with you. While you’re in the mood for fiction, check out some of his work. We recommend starting with his excellent collection “The Day the Leash Gave Way and Other Stories“.

Your narrator – Ben Kohanski initially became interested in voice work thanks to Pseudopod. He has been an avid listener since all the way back in 2006, and having developed a love of audio fiction, decided to pursue narration. He has since professionally recorded and produced one audiobook, as well as a previous story for Pseudopod, and is available for contract on ACX (hint hint). Though he hails from the grim primordial forests of northwestern Connecticut, he currently lives in Niigata, Japan where he teaches English.

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How like a god of the Epicureans is the audience, at a time like this! Powerless to alter the course of events, yet better informed than the characters, they might rise to their feet and cry out, “Do not!”—but the blinding of Oedipus would still ensue, and the inevitable knot in Jocasta’s scarlet would stop her breathing still.

But no one rises, of course. They know better. They, too, are inevitably secured by the strange bonds of the tragedy. The gods can only observe and know, they cannot alter circumstance, nor wrestle with ananke.

My host is already anticipating the thing he calls “catharsis.” My search has carried me far, and my choice was a good one. Phillip Devers lives in the theater like a worm lives in an apple, a paralytic in an iron lung. It is his world.