Cover of first edition (hardcover)
|Cover artist||Jack Gaughan|
|Genre(s)||Science fiction novel|
|Publisher||G.P. Putnam's Sons|
|Media type||Print (Hardcover & Paperback)|
The story opens in a post-apocalyptic Southern California, in a hellish world shattered by nuclear war decades before. Several police states have emerged in place of the former United States. Hurricane-force winds above five hundred feet prevent any sort of air travel from one state to the next, and sudden, violent, and unpredictable storms make day-to-day life a mini-hell. Hell Tanner, an imprisoned killer, is offered a full pardon in exchange for taking on a suicide mission—a drive through "Damnation Alley" across a ruined America from Los Angeles to Boston—as one of three vehicles attempting to deliver an urgently needed plague vaccine.
Barry Malzberg found the book "an interesting novella converted to an unfortunate novel," faulting it as "a mechanical, simply transposed action-adventure story written, in my view, at the bottom of the man's talent."
In 1977, a film loosely based on the novel was directed by Jack Smight. Roger Zelazny had liked the original script by Lukas Heller and expected that to be the filmed version; he did not realize until he saw it in the theater that the shooting script (by Alan Sharp) was quite different. He never liked the movie and was embarrassed by it. However, assertions that he requested to have his name removed from the film (and that the studio refused) are completely unfounded. The movie was released before he ever discovered he did not like it.
The 2000 AD comic had a long running Judge Dredd story arc that was an adaptation of the story (with the journey in the reverse direction), in which Dredd and Spikes Harvey Rotten (the greatest Punk alive) journeyed across the Cursed Earth between Megacity 1 (on the U.S. East Coast) to Megacity 2 (on the West coast) to deliver a vaccine to the 2T(Fru)T virus.
- "Books," F&SF, May 1970, p.26-7
- "...And Call Me Roger": The Literary Life of Roger Zelazny, Part 4, by Christopher S. Kovacs. In: The Collected Stories of Roger Zelazny, Volume 4: Last Exit to Babylon, NESFA Press, 2009.
- Levack, Daniel J. H. (1983). Amber Dreams: A Roger Zelazny Bibliography. San Francisco: Underwood/Miller. pp. 26–29. ISBN 0-934438-39-0.
- Ackerman, Forrest J. (1994). Reel Future: The Stories that Inspired 16 Classic Science Fiction Movies. New York: Barnes & Noble Books. pp. 396–471. ISBN 1-56619-450-4.
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