You might remember Roger Zelazny from my Chronicles of Amber post. Here is another thing of his you absolutely have to read: “Damnation Alley.” Not the novel, the novelette. What’s the difference? According to Zelazny, he was talked into “fixing up” his short piece to resell as a novel, and he just wasn’t happy with it. I’ve read both, and the short version is definitely better, with no padding or extraneous stuff. Just amazingness. Now, what am I actually going to talk about, regarding “Damnation Alley?” It’s the purest expression of American SF.
Let’s keep with the comic book theme, hey? Ever heard of Hellboy? Of course you have, you have the internet. But if you haven’t, he’s a demon from hell (well, A hell) sent to Earth to destroy it, who is instead adopted by a kindly scholar and the US military, fed pancakes, and who grows up to be a good, taciturn guy who punches vampires to death. And Nazis, he punches them too.