Collected Roger Zelazny Vol. 4 Review

Last Exit to Babylon: Volume 4: The Collected Stories of Roger Zelazny, ed. Grubbs, Kovacs, Crimmins. Yes. I continue to enjoy this collection, and express my enduring gratitude to the NESFA team for putting it together. This volume contains the middle chunk of the Dilvish tales, and the three stories that constitute My Name Is Legion, which together give you your recommended weekly allowance of straight-ahead sf adventure. This volume also brought a couple things to mind about which I’ll go into in slightly more detail:
In Steven Brust’s introduction, he articulates a number of things that I had observed but not expressed, including this:

[F]rom the very first sentence, you always feel that particular sort of relaxation; the feeling that, okay, I may be confused, but Roger knows it and I can just go with him because he’ll bring me out of the confusion just fine.

For me, Roadmarks epitomized that experience: I had virtually no idea what was going on for most of the book (editor Christopher Kovacs recounts in this volume that RZ had literally shuffled half the chapters, confident that the order of their appearance in the novel was insignificant), but loved virtually every page.
On an entirely unrelated note, this volume contains an essay called “Future Crime”, in which Zelazny takes us down an infrequently explored avenue of prognostication. RZ opens by observing that a panel of science advisors convened by FDR in the thirties had failed to predict rocketry, computers, or atomic energy when wasked what was likely to occur in the next quarter-century. Having thus set himself up for irony, Zelazny makes his predictions: people will live longer, we’ll mine asteroids and have a base on the moon, we’ll be nostalgic for the late ’70s, and this:

Will we wipe out V.D. as we have smallpox—once the hangups surrounding such a public health project have been outgrown—thus, finally taking all the danger out of being close? I think so.

That was 1979. Two years later, the AIDS crisis broke. Now, maybe we would have made more progress with outgrowing our “hangups” without AIDS (or perhaps even if AIDS hadn’t coincided with the Reagan era), but we are now so damaged that a cancer-preventing injection is considered controversial in some quarters because it also prevents some sexually transmitted infections. And while I’d love to live (or at least vacation) on the moon, I have to say that our failure to grow up sexually is a much greater disappointment (and, I believe, a much more socially damaging one).