Prominent Poles

Roger Zelazny, Science Fiction Writer

Photo of Roger Zelazny, science fiction writer

Born: May 13, 1937 in Cleveland, Ohio, USA

Died: June 14, 1995 in Santa Fe, New Mexico, USA

Accomplishments:  It is no small wonder that Roger Zelazny (a.k.a. Harrison Denmark) has been one of science fiction readers' favorite writers.  His books included such favorites as Lord of Light, Damnation Alley, Doorways and My Name Is Legion.  Considering that Zelazny was a winner of five Hugos and other awards, his death in 1995 was a tragic event for readers of science fiction and fantasy.

On May 13, 1937, Roger Joseph Zelazny was born in Cleveland, Ohio, an only child of Josephine Sweet Zelazny and Joseph Frank Zelazny.  His father emigrated from Poland when he was a young man and met Josephine Sweet in Chicago.  Roger's childhood was spent in Euclid, Ohio, in a rural area on an acre of property.  As an only child, he had plenty of time to read and obtained books from the school library.  At the age of eleven, he began reading science fiction.  Reading anything he could find and from the few science fiction magazines available, he became familiar with the works of Heinlein, Bradbury and Sturgeon, among others.  In high school, Roger Zelazny was the editor of the school newspaper and joined the Creative Writing Club.  In the fall of 1955, he began attending college at Western Reserve and graduated with a B.A. in English in 1959.  He was accepted to Columbia University in New York and specialized in Elizabethan and Jacobean drama graduating with a M.A. in 1962.  While working for the Social Security Administration, he started writing and publishing science fiction stories.  The late sixties was a period of great output during which he published dozens of short stories and some of his best novels.  With both critical and commercial success at hand, in 1969 Roger Zelazny left the Social Security Administration and became a full time writer.

Zelazny was an optimistic writer, with his stories drawing from religion, mythology and psychology.  He became a leading and representative figure of the US New Wave, writing stories whose emphasis had shifted from the external world of the hard sciences to the internal worlds explored through disciplines such as psychology (mostly Jungian), sociology and linguistics.  To a greater extent than any of his colleagues, however, Roger Zelazny expressed this shift by utilizing mythological structures--some traditional, some new-minted.

From 1994 until his death, he lived in Santa Fe, New Mexico with novelist Jane Lindskold.

Hugo Awards:
1966 Novel "And Call Me Conrad"
1968 Novel "Lord of Light"
1976 Novella "Home Is the Hangman"
1982 Novelette "Unicorn Variation"
1986 Novella "24 Views of Mt. Fuji, by Hokusai"
1987 Novelette "Permafrost"

Nebulas Awards:
1965 Novella "He Who Shapes"
1965 Novelette "The Doors of His Face, the Lamps of His Mouth"
1975 Novella "Home Is the Hangman"

Balrog Awards:
1980 Short Fiction "The Last Defender of Camelot"
1984 Collection/Anthology "Unicorn Variations"


This biography is almost entirely based on the work of Theodore Krulik.  Permission to use it was granted by William Tienken.