Monday, August 15, 2016

Moorcock Mondays: The Stealer of Souls

Stormbringer RPG supplement
We just finished The Stealer of Souls this past weekend. The title was the first Elric "novel" that Michael Moorcock published. It's a fix-up of the first several Elric stories he wrote. The book begins with Elric mobilizing the fleets of his allies, the merchant princes of the Isle of the Purple Towns, to sack the home of his forefathers: the Melnibonean city of Imrryr. The first story ends with Imrryr's destruction in flames. And the destruction of the raiders' fleet, thanks to Melnibonean dragons.

I read the first Jerry Cornelius novel earlier this year, so I understand exactly what Alan Moore meant in his essay, "The Return of the White Duke", when he points out that both sequences begin with the hero (Elric or Jerry) setting out to burn his father's home to the ground, AND rescue an imprisoned female kinswoman. In both cases also, it is a servant who opens a back door to allow the hero ingress to carry out his plan.

For Alan Moore, this is one sign that Elric has a presence, even within many of Moorcock's more literary and experimental traces. There's lipstick traces of Elric everywhere.

Monday, August 8, 2016

Moorcock Mondays

The Second Foundation Reading Group will be taking on the work of Michael Moorcock, especially the Elric and other Eternal Champion stories, for its meeting on Sunday, September 11, 2-4 PM at Parkway Pizza on Minnehaha Avenue in Minneapolis. People who are interested in Moorcock are most welcome to attend!

I am currently reading the first volume of the recent Del Rey Elric series: Elric: The Stealer of Souls, Chronicles of the Last Emperor of Melnibone, Volume I. This volume contains two fixup novels, The Stealer of Souls and Stormbringer. Judging from the first volume, the Del Rey series appears to be structured primarily in the order in which the Elric novels were originally published. In other words, some of the "later" episodes in the life of Elric of Melnibone were published first. 

The collections also feature art from various Elric publications, maps of the Young Kingdoms, various essays by Moorcock and others on Elric, the Eternal Champions, and Moorcockian fantasy, as well as samples of related or not-so-related works and inspirations for Elric (such as the Sexton Blake pulp detective series). I remember being really irritated by the Del Rey volumes' "jumbled" order of Elric stories-cum-Moorcockiana. But essays like the evocative opener by Alan Moore, which reveals the plot homologies between The Stealer of Souls and the first Jerry Cornelius novel, are adding to my appreciation of the texts as I encounter them again.

Each volume also contains new art by a featured artist. Volume I's featured artist is John Picacio, whose work strikes me as somewhat vacant; the cover at least is vibrant, I suppose.

I hope to finish The Stealer of Souls in the next couple of days and then begin rereading Stormbringer.  The stories are great to come back to again; I haven't read them since the '70s. The Elric stories are more literary than I remembered. Not bad at all.