The Michael Moorcock Collection: An Inside View
As posted last week on the Gollancz blog, we’re delighted to hand today’s post over to the estimable John Davey, who has been undertaking the mammoth task of producing the definitive editions of Michael Moorcock’s extraordinary body of fantasy fiction . . .
As editor of the Michael Moorcock Collection, I’ve been asked by Gollancz and the SF Gateway to talk a little bit about the project. I was, in fact, asked some months ago, but until recently hadn’t been inspired enough to do so. I felt that I lacked an angle from which to approach the topic in a meaningful way.
I’ve got one now, I think, and so would like to lay out for you some of the things that make these new editions unique.
There’s been a misapprehension, in some quarters, that the Michael Moorcock Collection is simply a set of reprints, offering little more than was on offer back when Millennium/Orion (in the UK) and White Wolf (in the States) issued a series of omnibuses under the banner ‘The Tale of the Eternal Champion’ some twenty or so years ago.
In fact — particularly for British buyers — pretty much every one of these new editions offers something different and/or previously unavailable here, not the least of which is twice as many volumes as before.
Mike Moorcock has said elsewhere (of the Gollancz editions) that “All are revised but none radically”. That’s true, but any improvements are certainly better than none.
The series kicked off in March of last year with the Moonbeam Roads trilogy — Daughter of Dreams, Destiny’s Brother and Son of the Wolf — the latter two making their début in the U.K. Together with those came Corum: The Prince in the Scarlet Robe and two eBook-only publications, The Chinese Agent and The Russian Intelligence.
April saw Hawkmoon: The History of the Runestaff (with illustrations by the late, great James Cawthorn, some previously unseen), Gloriana; or, The Unfulfill’d Queen (with appendices, one new to the U.K., another unique to this edition) and Corum: The Prince with the Silver Hand.
Along with these were (exclusive to eBook) The Distant Suns, The Golden Barge and Sojan the Swordsman, all three with Cawthorn illustrations, many unseen for more than forty (and, in some cases, fifty) years, with Sojan also containing one previously uncollected story).
In May, as well as Hawkmoon: Count Brass, came the first of six new Elric collections/omnibuses, arranged in the series’ narrative-chronology order, all of which include material appearing for the first time in the U.K. Elric of Melniboné and Other Stories features the title novel plus a great deal of short fiction and non-fiction (including a foreword by Alan Moore), together with more artwork by Cawthorn, most of which has never before been reproduced in any English-language edition.
The Dancers at the End of Time was published in June, and includes one of the best ever pieces of Cawthorn artwork, virtually unseen seen since it accompanied an extract from An Alien Heat more than forty years ago.
July: Elric: The Fortress of the Pearl, featuring the title novel plus more short fiction and non-fiction (incl. Neil Gaiman), and decorations by Cawthorn.
Then (in August) it was great to see a new edition of The Cornelius Quartet; at more than a thousand pages, by far the biggest volume to date. Its text is about as accurate as it can possibly be, with some revisions correcting errors that have existed in previous editions of these books dating back as far as 1968. Sadly, though — despite valiant efforts — we were unable to secure permission to reproduce any of Richard Glyn Jones’s original artwork for The English Assassin and The Condition of Muzak. However, we supplanted it (in those titles, and elsewhere in the volume) with pieces by others, including some by Harry Douthwaite not seen since the mid-’60s. All of Malcolm Dean’s artwork, by the way, remains intact.
Spetember 2013: Elric: The Sailor on the Seas of Fate, featuring the title novel plus yet more short fiction and non-fiction (incl. Michael Chabon foreword), and artwork by Cawthorn (most, again, new to any English-language edition).
Von Bek was October’s volume, differing from all previous editions with (albeit) shorter but more Bek-specific contents, focusing solely on The War Hound and the World’s Pain and The City in the Autumn Stars.
November will see Elric: The Sleeping Sorceress and Other Stories, a unique collection featuring the title novel and some (non-Elric) short fiction and non-fiction (incl. Walter Mosley foreword), and the by now customary rare Cawthorn artwork.
The Eternal Champion (omnibus) follows, out in time for Christmas, and the new year begins with Elric: The Revenge of the Rose, featuring the title novel, more short fiction and non-fiction (incl. Holly Black foreword), and rare artwork by Cawthorn.
This February, there’s to be a brand-new omnibus: Moorcock’s Multiverse, containing The Sundered Worlds, The Winds of Limbo and The Shores of Death, the latter accompanied by Cawthorn artwork appearing for the first time in fifty years.
March, 2014: Elric: Stormbringer!, concluding the Elric saga in fine style with the title novel, more non-fiction (incl. Tad Williams foreword) and yet more rare artwork and a portfolio by Cawthorn.
Other editions in the pipeline for next year include The Nomad of Time (April), which will contain the first ever (100%) complete text of The Steel Tsar; Jerry Cornelius: His Lives and His Times (May), a unique volume featuring the most comprehensive collection of Cornelius short fiction ever, including one previously uncollected story; and another brand-new omnibus: Travelling to Utopia (July), containing The Wrecks of Time, The Ice Schooner and The Black Corridor. Needless to say, all of these volumes will include as much rarely seen artwork by Cawthorn and/or others as possible.
My next task, meanwhile, is to edit the War Amongst the Angels trilogy, for its first ever omnibus edition.
This whole project has been (and continues to be) a very challenging and rewarding experience, and one that I wouldn’t have missed for the world. Or, indeed, for the multiverse.
For more on the collection and the titles mentioned above, visit the Orion website for printed omnibus editions and Michael Moorcock’s author page on the SF Gateway website.