Study Guide

Lord of Light Versions of Reality

By Roger Zelazny

Versions of Reality

We know what you're thinking: How do you have versions of reality, as in the plural? Isn't there reality and then not reality? And sure, there might be a single reality out there, but here's a question that has kept many a philosopher awake into the wee morning hours: How do we know if the reality of our minds is the true reality? How do we know if what we believe to be true is actually the truth? Tricky stuff.

Lord of Light plays with questions of reality without giving in to simple explanations. Are the truths professed by the gods really lies meant to hide reality? Are the lies told by Sam really truths puncturing reality's core? In the end, unable to provide an answer, the novel provides several possible versions of reality. And that's as it should be… we think? Forget it—you decide.

Questions About Versions of Reality

  1. Does any version of reality rise to the top as true? If so, which one and where do you see evidence for this? If not, why do you think this is? (And don't think you can skimp on the evidence if you pick the latter.)
  2. What character(s) do you think has the ability to alter the realities of others the most profoundly? What grants them this ability and how do they use it? What does this suggest to you about the theme?
  3. How does the novel's ending play on the theme of versions of reality? What questions does it leave open, and why? Are there any it answers?

Chew on This

Every version of reality in the novel seems to be based on a previous version of reality, which means none of them are authentic, and therefor, none are completely true.

The gods are unable to completely cover up the fact that they aren't human because they don't truly believe it themselves. Without belief in a reality, it's can't be considered a reality.