Michael Moorcock has published over 70 novels in all genres.
These include several series that share, to different extents, a common
multiverse: the Cornelius Chronicles,
The Dancers at the End of Time, Erekose,
The Books of Corum, Hawkmoon: The Chronicles of Castle Brass,
Hawkmoon: The History of the Runestaff and the classic
Elric of Melnibone Saga. He has also edited an anthology
of late Victorian science fiction, Before Armageddon. Under the pen
name E.P. Bradbury, he published a series of novel-length pastiches of
Edgar Rice Burroughs' Barsoom novels.
Moorcock was born in London in 1939 and began writing, illustrating,
editing and printing fanzines under the MJM Publications imprint at
a young age. He became the editor of Tarzan Adventures at
16 (some sources say 17), and later the
Sexton Blake Library. In 1964 he became the radical
editor of the experimental and frequently controversial British SF
magazine New Worlds.
A multiple winner of the British Fantasy
Award, Moorcock is also a World Fantasy Award and John W. Campbell
Memorial Award winner for his novel Gloriana. He won the 1967
Nebula Award for his novella "Behold the Man." He has twice
won the Derleth Award for Fantasy (for The Sword and the
Stallion, and The Hollow Lands), and the Guardian Fiction
Prize (1977) for The Condition of Muzak. He has been shortlisted
for both the Booker and Whitbread prizes, Britain's most prestigious
literary awards. Moorcock currently lives in London, Spain and
Texas. Moorcock has also recorded music, both solo and with the
progressive rock group, Hawkwind.
SF Site Review: The Metatemporal Detective
SF Site Review: Wizardry & Wild Romance
SF Site Review: Close To My Heart: New Worlds: An Anthology
SF Site Review: The Dreamthief's Daughter
SF Site Review: Gloriana or the Unfulfilled Queen
SF Site Review: Behold the Man
SF Site Review: Michael Moorcock's Multiverse
SF Site Review: The War Amongst the Angels
SF Site Review: The Dancers at the End of Time
SF Site Review: Kane of Old Mars
SF Site Review: Sailing to Utopia
||A review by Nathan Brazil
Copyright © 2008 Nathan Brazil
"I heard the beast thundering on behind me, giving out a strange mooing sound, and increased my pace as best
I could. I found I could run very easily indeed and seemed to be lighter than normal"
City of the Beast is the first novel in a trilogy, featuring an incarnation of Moorcock's Eternal Champion,
called Michael Kane. Not to be confused with the celebrated British actor of a similar name. This Kane is an
all-American hero, whose life and times deliberately imitate Edgar Rice Burroughs' John Carter of Mars. For
readers who have not encountered Burroughs Martian series, the name of the game is pure escapism. Those who
prefer a high degree of scientific accuracy in their fiction will be disappointed. But, if your main priority
is what used to be called a "rip-roaring adventure" then City of the Beast may be just the one for the job.
Kane is a manifestation of Moorcock's Eternal Champion, but it is not necessary to know anything about this
many-faced character, or the author's other works, in order to enjoy this story. The Mars that is presented is
improbable, to say the least, but quite charming in the quaint way that SF stories were, before images from NASA
space probes shattered all the illusions. Originally published in 1965 as Warriors of Mars under the
nom-de-plume Edward Powys Bradbury, the story details Kane's first sojourn on Mars, after an experiment in
teleportation accidentally sends him to the red planet. True to its source of inspiration, the tale is narrated
as fiction by Bradbury, who meets Kane in France, and records his fabulous adventures for posterity. We learn
that Mars is called Vashu by its humanoid inhabitants, and shortly after his arrival, Kane falls in love
with the beautiful Shizala, princess of the city of Varnal. Naturally attracted to the Earthman, Shizala
cannot reciprocate, due to her betrothal to the shifty prince of Mishim Tep.
Before this can deteriorate into the Mills & Boon of space, Varnal is attacked by the Argzoon, a race of
hulk-like blue-skinned giants. It is at this point that Kane's fencing skills and general macho credentials
come in handy. Predictably, the lovely Shizala is kidnapped, forcing Kane to embark upon a swashbuckling
quest across Mars to rescue her from their filthy clutches. What follows is a fast paced romp, encompassing
the familiar formula of chase, battle and evasion. There are underground cities, evil beasties, and pretty
much every ingredient you'd expect in a classic pulp novel.
Moorcock's own style, when this book was written, was ideally suited to this work. What he was trying to do,
was emulate the seminal magic of those who had inspired him, in a fashion that was affectionate, and something
of tribute. At the time, Moorcock was a one man ideas factory, churning out stories at an incredible
rate. City of the Beast was probably written in no more than two days. Moorcock recalls that the
entire trilogy, took no more than a week. While this technique does not allow for scientific credibility,
or in-depth characterisation, it is a whole lot of fun. There is a sugar rush of energy here, which carries
along readers willing to forgive what the work lacks. If I have one criticism, it would be that this book
cannot rise above the quality of a shadow. Kane is not Carter, Shizala is not Deja Thoris, and Vashu is
not Barsoom. City of the Beast and its sequels are without a doubt entertaining, but the real thing
is still preferable, and available.
If Nathan Brazil were dyslexic, he'd be the dog of the Well world. In reality, he's an English bloke who lives on an island, reading,
writing and throwing chips to the seagulls.
Drop by his web site at www.inkdigital.org.