Damnation Alley

Damnation Alley

Damnation Alley is the title of a 1967 science fiction short story by Roger Zelazny, which he expanded into a novel in 1969. A film adaptation of the novel was released in 1977.

Plot introduction

Both the short story and the novel open in a post-apocalyptic Southern California, in a hellish world shattered by nuclear war decades before. Several surviving 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, a convicted killer and the last Hells Angel alive, 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 urgently needed plague vaccine.

Film adaptation

In 1977, a film loosely based on the novel was directed by Jack Smight. Roger Zelazny was so upset by the actualization of his novel that he requested to have his name removed from the film (which the studio refused to do).

Related works

The novel Hardwired by Walter Jon Williams is an homage to Damnation Alley. The two authors (Zelazny and Williams) later became good friends.

The 2000 AD comic had a long running Judge Dredd story arc that was an adaptation of the story (but the journey is in the reverse direction). In which Dredd and Spikes Harvey Rotten (the greatest Punk alive) journeyed across the Cursed Earth Between Megacity1 (on the U.S. East Coast) to Megacity2 (on the West coast) to deliver a vaccine to the 2T(Fru)T virus. It was also subject to a number of copyright violations.


  • Levack, Daniel J. H. Amber Dreams: A Roger Zelazny Bibliography. San Francisco: Underwood/Miller.
  • Ackerman, Forrest J. Reel Future: The Stories that Inspired 16 Classic Science Fiction Movies. New York: Barnes & Noble Books.

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