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Kane of Old Mars
Michael Moorcock
White Wolf Books, $22.99 US/$29.99 Canada
Hardcover omnibus, 450 pages
Publication date: February 1998

Kane of Old Mars
Michael Moorcock
Born in London, UK, Moorcock became involved in SF early on. He edited Tarzan's Adventures at 17 and became the guiding hand behind the British SF Magazine New Worlds in 1964, a major influence in the development of "New Wave" SF. As a fantasist he's best known for the Elric saga, and for the World Fantasy Award winning novel, Gloriana. He's a multiple winner of the British Fantasy Award.

ISFDB Bibliography
The New World's Fair
Tanelorn: The City Of Peace
Michael Moorcock Tribute Site
Another Tanelorn
Usenet - alt.books.moorcock
Elric of Melnibone
Elric of Melniboné
Elric Saga

Past Feature Reviews
A review by Steven H Silver

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Although Elric, Corum and Jerry Cornelius may be more famous, I've always thought Michael Kane was one of Michael Moorcock's most enjoyable series. The reason for this isn't too difficult to divine. Moorcock has always said that Edgar Rice Burroughs was one of his earliest influences. Michael Kane's adventures on Mars are a tribute to Burroughs's Mars. Just as Burroughs used a pseudonym to publish the earliest of the Mars novels, Under the Moons of Mars, Moorcock also used a pseudonym, Edward P. Bradbury, when the Mars trilogy was first published in the late 1960s.

Michael Kane is a physics professor at the Chicago Special Research Institute who managed to transport himself to Mars, or Vashu, as it existed during Earth's Cretaceous Period. Once on Mars, Kane suffers through a series of Burroughs-like adventures, complete with Shizala, Kane's native love àla Dejah Thoris.

There really isn't a whole lot of originality in the three volumes that make up Kane of Old Mars, but as a homage to Edgar Rice Burroughs, that doesn't really cause a problem. Although the Moorcock books are not necessarily well written throughout, those of Burroughs were frequently turned out at a lower literary standard. The most important aspect of the Kane novels is that they are fun, even to the cliff-hanger adventures Kane has.

If there is a failing in the Mars books, it is the fact that Horguhl, the villainess from the first two novels, is never mentioned in the final book. Whether Moorcock intended to deal with her fate in a later, unwritten novel, is a matter of conjecture, but as the novels were originally written (and Moorcock asserts in his introduction that he decided not to make any changes), her ultimate fate is unknown. While this gives a sense of reality to the series, it seems out of place in a Mars so reminiscent of Barsoom.

Kane of Old Mars provides a wonderful escapist fantasy set on a Mars that never was. It stands in marked contrast to more recent realistic depictions of Mars that appear in Kim Stanley Robinson's Mars Trilogy, Ben Bova's Mars, or any of scores of other books. While those books may take a serious look at the political, social and philosophical implications of humans on the red planet, none of them can even approach Kane of Old Mars for sheer fun in the same way Burroughs portrayed the planet.

Copyright © 1998 by Steven H Silver

Steven H Silver is one of the founders and judges for the Sidewise Award for Alternate History. He sits on concoms for Windycon, Chicon 2000 and Clavius in 2001 and is co-chair of Picnicon 1998. Steven will be serving as the Programming Chairman for Chicon 2000. In addition to maintaining several bibliographies and the Harry Turtledove website, Steven is trying to get his short stories published and has recently finished his first novel. He lives at home with his wife and 3200 books. He is available for convention panels.


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