Before I begin, I feel obliged to apologize for starting my “Recommended Reading” series of posts with a book that may be hard to come by. Not the most heavily published novel to begin with, A Night in the Lonesome October has apparently gone out of print in recent years, and online markets seem to be starting the prices at $14 and up for even a paperback edition. It’s just the way of things… when it comes to science fiction and fantasy, things only stay in print if the author is alive and writing, has been dead for more than 100 years, or if the book has recently been turned into a major motion picture. With Roger Zelazny’s A Night in the Lonesome October, none of those things is true, and so it’s become a bit scarce. We can hope that NESFA, the publishers of the Collected Roger Zelazny series of short story compendiums, will eventually get around to reprinting some of his novels, but it hasn’t happened yet, and “Lonesome October” may not be one of the early selections in any case.
Still, though it may require you to scour the used book stores, I feel strongly about recommending this novel, especially at this time. We are, after all, approaching Halloween season, so it will soon be the optimal time to read it. Although I’m jumping the gun a bit on the season, I figured the extra lead time would hopefully give people a chance to pick it up while it’s still Halloween time. And this is a great book, one of my favorites. Published in 1993, it was the last novel completed by Roger Zelazny before his death due to cancer, and he is at the top of his game here. One of his few novels to deliberately have a light-hearted, humorous feel to it, A Night in the Lonesome October is also full of intrigue, sinister plots, and just enough action to keep things exciting without overwhelming the mystery. It was nominated for the 1994 Best Novel Nebula Award, but lost out to Greg Bear’s Moving Mars.