Jan 9, 2020

Kane of Old Mars (1965)

White Wolf 1998, Art: John Bolton
In 1965, Michael Moorcock published his "Kane of Old Mars" trilogy, a sword-and-planet-pastiche- slash-Edgar-Rice-Burroughs-homage describing the adventures of scientist-swordsman Michael Kane on a Mars of millions of years ago. These "retro" novels (even for readers in 1965) were initially published under the name "Edward P. Bradbury", since at that time Moorcock was trying to cement his own reputation as a literary provocateur with the modern fantastic fiction he was promoting as editor of New Worlds SF.
"…it seemed to me just then that it wasn't a good idea to be talking about the breaking down of genre conventions whilst producing a trilogy of romances which exemplified, even exalted, those conventions…so I gave the publisher a choice of titles and combinations of names and eventually there appeared, under the unlikely name of Edward Powys Bradbury, the books originally published as Warriors of Mars, Blades of Mars and Barbarians of Mars."
  - New Introduction To The 'Michael Kane' Series (1977/80)
However, although Moorcock distanced himself and New Worlds from the juvenile-aimed Mars romances, sales of these books actually went towards paying his sophisticated New Worlds contributors good rates. As is typical for many artists, appealing to the masses allowed Moorcock to indulge in more passionate (but less profitable) projects.

Writing the Mars Kane trilogy was also a fun exercise for the young writer. Although Moorcock had already written the Sojan of Zylor episodes, the Kane books were a more perfected rendition of that kind of Burroughsian adventure fantasy, and helped Moorcock develop a long form structural technique which would come in very handy when it came time to write the subsequent Hawkmoon and Corum books. The Mars Kane trilogy was written in just over a week, and this kind of discipline also allowed Moorcock to churn out the subsequent fantasy sequences in similarly compressed time-frames.

Compact 1965, Art: James Cawthorn

Warriors of Mars / City of the Beast

IN BRIEF: Scientist-swordsman Michael Kane is teleported to ancient Mars in a freak matter-transmission lab accident. There, he helps the beautiful Princess Shizala defend her city from the giant blue-skinned Argzoon. When Shizala is kidnapped by Horguhl, the Argzoon’s mysterious seductress leader, Kane journeys to the Black City of the Argzoon and eventually leads a slave rebellion to overthrow Horguhl’s unnatural rule. Unfortunately, just before Kane is about wed Shizala, he is pulled back to Earth of his own time.

No Country For Old Gods
Compared to Tolkien's epics (or even his own Eternal Champion books), Moorcock does not spend much time here on world-building or mythology. In fact he wastes no time before having Michael Kane declare that Shizala's people have no religion to speak of. The only sign of an "elder race" comes in the form of the Sheev and the Yaksha, but these beings never actually come to the stage. Essentially, most of the cultural trimmings are pushed aside to make way for the swashbuckling action.

Detailed Synopsis

Lancer 1966, Art: Gray Morrow

Blades of Mars / Lord Of The Spiders

IN BRIEF: Kane builds a device to take him back to Mars. While attempting to help a blue giant named Hool Haji restore proper rule to his realm of Mendishar, Kane discovers the ruins of an ancient Yaksha tower complex. In order to escape the degenerated creatures of the complex Kane builds an air ship. Kane and his friends then fight a race of radiation-mutated spider-men (man-spiders?), and eventually use the spider-men's venom to defeat the usurper of Mendishar. Afterwards, Kane learns that Horguhl has mesmerized the people of Mishim Tep into making war against their allies the Varnal. He infiltrates Mishim Tep and then uses the Mirror of Truth to force Horguhl to confess to her manipulations.

Detailed Synopsis

DAW 1979, Richard Hescox

Barbarians of Mars / Masters of the Pit

IN BRIEF: When ancient technology unleashes a plague (the Green Death) on the people of Cend-Amrid, Kane and Mendishar blue giant Hool Haji head to the ruined Yaksha tower complex (discovered in the previous book) to search for a cure. After capture and escape from Bagarad pirate barbarians, they become involved in a conflict between a race of mutated winged men (the First Masters) and their mutated pets (the dog-like Hahg and the cat-like Purha). When a diseased mob from Cend-Amrid eventually heads towards Varnal, Kane and his friends opt to abandon their city rather than slaughter the pitiful horde. Fortunately, an innocuous capsule artifact rescued from the Yaksha complex apparently proves to be the cure they have been looking for.

Talk or Die
As opposed to the casual dismemberment and general bloodthirstiness present in the Elric and Erekosë sword romances, Michael Kane sometimes tries to disarm his opponents with a hilt-snagging technique learned from an old French military friend. Of course for the more ghoulish creatures such as those infesting the Yaksha tower there's still mounds of corpses, but if his adversary can at least talk there's a chance Kane will spare him (as he does in the first book with the Argzoon warrior Morvat Jard).
"...in the final volume I had the added fun of trying to make my protagonist actually behave according to the code John Carter was always talking about and rarely seemed capable of sticking to. He hated killing, he said, but he managed to get through a score or two of assorted antagonists per volume!"
  - New Introduction To The 'Michael Kane' Series (1977/80)
Moorcock's comment above probably relates to the ending where Kane proposes a more passive stance against the approaching threat (the diseased horde). Instead of attacking the defenseless mob, Kane and his adopted people abandon their homes and find refuge in the mountains. Of course, a deux ex machina solution does eventually present itself, but it would have been very interesting to have had the story end with the protagonists eking out a bleak existence in the mountains while the degenerate invaders enjoyed the beauty of the royal city...

Hidden Figures
In the first chapter of this installment Moorcock has some fun inserting backwards-spelled names of magazines, editors and writer friends in the form of place names in his Martian landscape (fandom, Analog magazine, John W. Campbell, JG Ballard, Moorcock, Brian Aldiss, M. John Harrison).
“Have you not heard of the Flowers of Modnaf? They are attractive at a distance but highly dangerous when you come close to them...Many have been trapped by these flowers and their vitality sapped, leaving them dry of everything human, to become mindless creatures wandering eventually to the quicksands of Golana, where they are sucked down slowly and never heard of again."

As I nursed the engine along, Hool Haji told me the story of an old, desperate man who had once dreamed of power, one Blemplac the Mad, who was still supposed to wander below.

"That is an island called Drallab," Hool Haji explained. "It's folk have only rare contact with their neighbors, but though they appear to play little part in the activities of the other islands they exert a great artistic influence on them and are really extremely benevolent."

Another island appeared. This was a strange-looking place of peculiar contrasts for so small an island...This was K'cocroom, Hool Haji informed me, an island that had only in the last few years emerged from the lake and was still largely unpopulated, though the few people who lived there seemed a folk of strange contrasts, sometimes friendly to strangers, sometimes not. There was S'Sidla, a gentle landscape of strong, straight trees and rich, dark glades, and Nosirrah, a rugged, healthy looking place with, Hool Haji informed me, great treasures yet un-mined.

 Detailed Synopsis

Paizo 2007, Andrew Hou

Back to the Future

For some reason or another, Moorcock never really incorporated Michael Kane into his Eternal Champion multiverse (aside from a name-check possibly somewhere). I think the reason may be because these books don't really have any kind of a subtext, such as one addressing a struggle between Law and Chaos (aside from the 3rd volume's grotesque satire on conservatism embodied in the ruthlessly-logical ruling society of Cend-Amrid). Because the characters here are less complex than someone like Elric or Jephraim Tallow (the characters don't spend much time examining their beliefs, for example), these books are romances in the most genuine sense. Nonetheless, I wouldn't have minded seeing psychic villainess Horguhl pop up in an Eternal Champion book...offhand I can't think of anybody quite like her in the Elric, Hawkmoon or Corum books. Perhaps Jerry Cornelius...

I think the best way to approach Kane of Old Mars is to see it as a stepping stone towards the more pointed and soon-to-follow Hawkmoon Runestaff quartet. Although Moorcock had by this time already presented the apocalyptic heroic fantasies of Elric and Erekosë, it seems appropriate that the Kane trilogy acts as a step back towards a more innocent kind of romance, before using the Runestaff quartet to once again stretch the seams of the genre. I think it's not a coincidence that Moorcock's bibliography itself exhibits a kind of oscillation ("swaying of the Balance") between genre and modern literature.

Kane of Old Mars Wikiverse
Warriors of Mars / City of the Beast Wikiverse
Blades of Mars / Lord Of The Spiders Wikiverse
Barbarians of Mars / Masters of the Pit Wikiverse

Next Chapter: The Ice Schooner

(Previous Chapter: The Roads Between the Worlds (1964-66))

Jan 8, 2020

The Roads Between the Worlds (1964-66)

White Wolf 1996, Art: BROM

Around the mid-60s, Moorcock wrote and published a few pulp-oriented science fiction serials and novels to help pay for the expenses of running his more forward-looking SF magazine New Worlds. The appearance of some of these stories in the magazine also served to ease its more traditionally-minded readers into the more “avant-garde” stories of his highlighted contributors (among them J.G. Ballard, Brian Aldiss and Thomas Disch).

Originally unrelated, three of these dystopic tales were later collected in an omnibus edition titled The Roads Between the Worlds (1996), which includes The Wrecks of Time (1965), The Winds of Limbo (1965), and The Shores of Death (drastically rewritten from a 1964 story with the same name and initially published in 1966 as The Twilight Man). These novels develop a few common themes, one of them being the struggle between conservative and progressive ideologies. This theme is also present in the Eternal Champion fantasy books as the contest between Order and Chaos. As in that sequence, Moorcock suggests in these books that an equilibrium between the two extremes is the ideal position one should ultimately strive for.

One of the most interesting things about both the fantasy and science fiction books is that Moorcock’s characters often appear to be more open to self-examination than most genre heroes at that time. In the heroic fantasy novels, doomed heroes like the albino Elric may sometimes take this habit towards almost gothic levels, but in these three books the characters address the psychoses at hand in a somewhat more rationalized manner. In his introduction to The Roads Between the Worlds, Moorcock sees the myth-primal Law vs Chaos dichotomy reframed in these stories as the more sociological opposites of Reason vs Romance, or Skepticism and Faith. Just as there are patrons to Order or Chaos in Elric’s world, here the characters either have intuitive, self-indulgent mindsets or follow inhibited, over-rationalized doctrines.
Paperback Library 1967
“In those days, all I had was grotesque characters — the Fireclown was one, Faustaff in The Rituals of Infinity was another: large, colourful, life-affirming men. I believed very romantically in instinctive, non-calculating characters, and I’d offset those against the dull, conformist, mechanistic characters. These are very early things, they’re extensions of what I was doing with Elric: the debate between romanticism and realism. That debate still goes on. Josef Kiss and Faustaff or the Fireclown are not a hundred miles apart.“
   - Death Is No Obstacle (1992)

The Winds of Limbo (The Fireclown)
Sphere 1970, Bill Bolten
Originally planned as a serialized novel for New Worlds SF during John Carnell’s early 60s editorship, The Winds of Limbo ended up not being published until a few years later as a novel titled The Fireclown. Moorcock’s first book was an account of bohemian life (the lost The Hungry Dreamers), and his second was an allegorical fable (The Golden Barge). This book however focuses on political and sociological issues, using some of Benjamin Disraeli’s Coningsby as a plot template. Additionally, many of the portraits of the characters (and the mob as a whole) probably come from his brief employment around that time under the British Liberal Party as a writer of pamphlets and other texts.

IN BRIEF: When a mysterious character named the Fireclown begins spreading a message of rebellion against the technological status quo, his philosophy is co-opted by both politicians and the restless mob as a weapon to be used for their own ends. The conservative leader Simon Powys (later changed to “von Bek”) eventually identifies the Fireclown as a terrorist, but his grandson Alan Powys believes the Fireclown is innocent. Alan and his ex-lover Helen (and also Simon’s political rival) track down the Fireclown and learn that he is insane - but probably not actually a terrorist (Alan also learns that the Fireclown is his long-lost father). After discovering and infiltrating the real terrorists’ base in London, Alan learns that his grandfather Simon is their co-conspirator. In one of the final twists, the Fireclown returns to Earth and Alan must stop his mad father from using a “Time Fire” to wipe out the minds of all mankind.

Roc 1993, George Underwood
The portrayal of the Fireclown’s preaching and its effect on the masses effectively demonstrates how both politicians and the mob co-opt simple social messages and platitudes in order to further their own more petty agendas. The narrative also demonstrates the fickle nature of these political and social forces, as they thrash about from stance to stance and scapegoat to scapegoat. Aside from a few wondrous scenes aboard the Fireclown’s spaceship (and one aboard a kind of weird Scientology-inspired spacestation), for the most part this dynastic story of three generations of men takes place in an urban environment not much different than that of the present. This nicely distinguishes Alan from Moorcock’s heroic fantasy and allegorical protagonists, as he is essentially a civil servant (although this aspect somewhat make the secret agent episode in London a bit of a stretch). Alan’s openness to entertain the various viewpoints presented to him also make him a refreshing and sympathetic character.

Thematically speaking, the Fireclown’s essential argument – that worship of technology has removed society from its true nature - seems to recommend passivity over progress, which could be seen as a version of the Law vs Chaos concept found in the Eternal Champion books. Alan skillfully defends a more moderate and balanced approach, although in the end he has to resort to violence in order to save mankind. Despite his seeming incineration at the end of the book, the Fireclown character will return in the Dancers at the End of Time book The Transformation of Miss Mavis Ming.

Detailed Synopsis

Wikiverse Entry

The Wrecks of Time (The Rituals of Infinity)

New Worlds 156
Initially appearing over three installments in New Worlds (#156-158, Nov 1965 to Jan 1966), The Wrecks of Time was first published in book form in 1967.

IN BRIEF: The narrative opens with a portly scientist/government-agent named Faustaff driving across the desert of an alternate Earth. He casually picks up a nubile young hitchhiker and encounters a suspicious foreign tourist at a diner. Despite this 60s opening vibe, the premise soon opens out into a multi-dimensional war for the survival of mankind. It is revealed that scientists have discovered a way to travel to several parallel Earths using advanced technology. However these parallel Earths are in various stages of decrepitude, and worse yet, are being systematically destroyed by “D-squads”, (Demolition squads). Faustaff heads a secret organization which counters the terrorist attacks of the D-squads on all of the various Earths. When Earth-15 falls to the encroachment of chaos, he is forced to temporarily ally himself with the outlaw “salvagers”, who loot doomed planets as they are being destroyed. At the same time Faustaff is pursued by Steifflomeis and Maggy, two mysterious androids. After Earth-1 erupts into nuclear war, Faustaff and his allies find refuge in the newly-formed Earth-0, where Faustaff fights off the forces of creation itself to finally meet the greater powers behind the D-squads, androids and parallel Earths, and finds a way to halt the cycle of planetary destruction/creation.

The Wrecks of Time unfolds somewhat like a sci-fi spy story but with parallel worlds standing in for exotic locations. However, the landscapes of these parallel Earths are much more desolate than those found in spy movies, as they had been inspired by the author's childhood amongst the blasted landscapes of post WW II Europe. Aside from the further development of the “multiverse” construct established in The Sundered Worlds, this book also presents a fascinating final explanation of the purpose of these parallel Earths. The motivations behind the godlike Principals are fairly unique in my reading.

Roc 1994, James Cawthorn
Although Faustaff is patterned after many scientist-heroes of the past, he is refreshingly urbane compared to the fantasy heroes of Moorcock’s literary corpus up to this point. Faustaff is a very likable character who has an honest respect for humanity and the preservation of life, which is a nice variation on the typical hard-boiled type. The pleasure-seeking androids Steifflomeis and Maggy also serve as mysterious, "exotic" elements, and their wanting existences help to demonstrate the pros and cons of immortality through artificial bodies. An even more melancholy and resigned form of these artificial “free agents” can be found in the partially-human Mr. Take in The Shores of Death (and its reboot, The Twilight Man).

Finally, the pointed verbal antics of Cardinal Orelli and Steifflomeis seem to look forward to the dastardly diatribes of certain Dark Empire characters from the later Hawkmoon books. The revised version of The Wrecks of Time renames Steifflomeis as Klosterheim (from The War Hound and the World’s Pain) and Gordon Ogg as Gordon Begg (a relation of sorts to Von Bek family of same). In my initial encounter with this book as a paperback, I had actually envisioned Steifflomeis more as Prince Gaynor and Cardinal Orelli as Klosterheim, but then we wouldn't have had an almost self-satirizing duel between an Eternal Champion and a Klosterheim over a Grail cup in the third act. It’s a pity there are no further accounts of Faustaff’s adventures in Moorcock’s bibliography (as of yet), but the way the novel ends is probably satisfying enough.

Detailed Synopsis 

Wikiverse Entry

The Twilight Man (The Shores of Death)
Sphere 1970, Bill Bolten

The Shores of Death
The two-part serial published in New Worlds #144 and 145 (Sept-Dec 1964) titled The Shores of Death is not included in The Roads Between the Worlds, but since its "rebooted" form is, it's interesting to consider this initial version first.

New Worlds 145, Robert Tilley
IN BRIEF: In the 30th Century, Earth learns that it will be destroyed in 200 years by an approaching “exploding galaxy”. Fortunately, benevolent aliens arrive with plans to create a device which will move the Earth out of harm’s way. Former First Citizen of Earth Clovis Marca, however, is more interested in guaranteeing his own immortality and goes into space searching for a legendary (but notorious) scientist. However, once Marca has his wish granted, he learns that the price he has paid for perpetual personal salvation has doomed the rest of humanity.

Despite having a kind of bleak, ironic ending, some of the whimsical escapades in the early part of this story point toward a kind of absurdist social satire later perfected in the Dancers at the End of Time stories. For example, despite the doomsday scenario at hand, Earth’s greatest minds are happy to merely offer up a somewhat frivolous “We are here!” memorial message into space. Additionally, the momentous arrival of the alien Shreelians leads to an oddly casual conversation scene taking place at a social party. At the end of Part 1 the Earth is apparently saved, but the “hero” subsequently abandons the planet in seeming hysterics. At the end of Part 2, the somewhat abrupt ending caused some readers to wonder if there were a missing 3rd part to the story (none had been planned). It’s basically a pretty nihilistic ending, unusual for Moorcock at this time.

The Shores of Death 1964 Detailed Synopsis

Wikiverse Entry

The Twilight Man (The Shores of Death)

Berkley 1970, Richard Powers
In 1966 Moorcock published The Twilight Man, a novel which used The Shores of Death serial as a jumping off point (perhaps in the same way that The Fireclown had used Coningsby). Although sometimes cited as a rewrite, it’s also a reboot of The Shores of Death, as the tone and plot diverge in a few key areas.

IN BRIEF: After aliens halt the rotation of the earth, a sterilized humanity realizes it has only 200 years left to exist. Various social groups express their despair through different means: some distract themselves in parties, some build memorials, some start death cults and some begin accruing personal power. Former council leader Clovis Becker refuses to become involved in the brewing conflicts and finds refuge in the company of a lover named Fastina. When violence shatters his neutral existence, the mysterious Take whisks Becker and Fastina to Becker’s isolated family fortress in the twilight area of the Earth. Despite Take's warnings of danger, Becker eventually tracks down the mad scientist Orlando Sharvis. Sharvis grants Becker's request and makes him immortal. Sharvis is also able to restore reproductive potency to Becker and Fastine, saving mankind from extinction. However Becker can no longer feel sensation or emotion in his new immortal form.

The Twilight Man (titled The Shores of Death in the omnibus but referred to by its alternate title here for clarity) has a more evenly sober tone than The Shores of Death and takes pains to eliminate the more outlandish satire scattered throughout Shores. The bird-like alien Shreelians no longer appear, less continuous partying is described and outlaw bohemian colonies on other planets are no longer present. The parties that do occur are painted less hedonistically, and are depicted more as nihilistic activities to distract the participants from their dead future.

Roc 1993, George Underwood
Elements that remain are re-framed as the desperate last gasps of an imploding society, and the narrative is generally shot through with more explicit brutality and violence. The rousing space message of “We are Here!” becomes a more sheepish “We are here”. Disturbing episodes of civil unrest and petty despotism appear (rather than merely noted) in the form of the bloody conflicts between the Brotherhood of Guilt and Andros’ vigilante militia, and Andros becomes much more of an active “villain” figure in Twilight. Surprisingly, Twilight ends with salvation for mankind’s future, whereas Shores had ended on a note of extinction and chaos.

Both versions however place a high price on immortality gained through artificial bodies. This theme is also explored in The Wrecks of Time, which explores the ramifications of what a “sensation-poor” android body could lead to. There the androids Steifflomeis and Maggy seek out means by which to experience true pleasure (Steifflomeis in that book in particular is a conceptual cousin to the pessimistic Take in Shores and Twilight, as both seek release). Another immortality-cursed character in Shores/Twilight is Alodios the poet, who suffers his immortality in state of timeless catatonia. This kind of mental void had been somewhat touched upon in the Time Fire of The Fireclown, described there as Manny Bloom’s solution to eliminate the plague of intelligence and the perception of time. Shores/Twilight also shares a theme explored in The Fireclown, one that warns against accepting quick, simple miracle cures to complex societal woes.

It’s an interesting experience to read both Shores and Twilight in close proximity. Despite the fact that the larger arcs of both are the same, the texts are almost completely different - as if Moorcock had never actually read Shores before churning out Twilight (which is probably exactly the case). Comparing the two also highlights the growth of Moorcock’s writing craft, as the text in Twilight is smoother and the plot pieces fit together better (or at least are explained in more detail). Orlando Sharvis in particular becomes a more interesting character in Twilight, and one can easily imagine this “mad scientist” figure as a Chaos Duke in another sphere. In fact, if Faustaff and the Fireclown are the travellers on the Roads Between the Worlds of the first two books, the self-proclaimed "neutral party" figure of Orlando Sharvis is probably the moonbeam walker of Twilight (notice that he actually lives on/in the moon…).

The Twilight Man (The Shores of Death 1966) Detailed Synopsis

Wikiverse Entry

The Roads Between the Worlds, White Wolf 1996
The Roads Between the Worlds
This omnibus collection of The Wrecks of Time, The Winds of Limbo, and The Twilight Man revises some of the original names of characters to relate them to the Von Bek mythology established in The War Hound and the World’s Pain (an editorial revision practiced in most of the books of the early 1990s omnibus series). Notably...
  • In The Fireclown, Simon and Alan Powys become Simon and Alain von Bek.
  • In The Wrecks of Time, Steifflomeis becomes Klosterheim, and Gordon Ogg becomes Gordon Begg.
  • In The Shores of Death (The Twilight Man), Clovis Marca becomes Clovis Becker, and Olono Sharvis becomes Orlando Sharvis (possibly related to Orland Fank?).
The 1996 omnibus of The Roads Between the Worlds also includes previously-unpublished framing interludes featuring Renark von Bek from The Sundered Worlds. In this incarnation, Renark has become an experienced traveler of the moonbeam roads connecting the spheres of the multiverse, dressed in 19th century safari gear. After finishing off an angel hunt, he sights Chaos Engineer Captain Billy Bob’s scale-jumping ship Now The Clouds Have Meaning as it heads down-scale after Spammer Gain (these are characters featured in the 90s Second Ether series). Renark then continues on his endless quest for the Holy Grail. The three 1960s novels are featured in the 1996 omnibus as Renark’s fond recollections of old acquaintances (Faustaff, the Fireclown) met on the Roads Between the Worlds.

Wikiverse Entry

Some more analyses:

Next Chapter: Kane of Old Mars

(Previous Chapter: Shorts from NEW WORLDS and Others (1959-65))

Dec 28, 2019

Shorts from NEW WORLDS and Others (1959-65)

Mayflower 1975, Art: Bob Haberfield
One of the objectives of this reading project is that I get a chance to experience the development of Moorcock's multiverse in "real time" (publication order). During the period in which Moorcock had been writing the 'Science Fantasy' adventures of Elric, Earl Aubec and John Daker, he had also been publishing short stories (novellas) in 'New Worlds Science Fiction' and a few other magazines. A couple of these early features introduce themes which resurface more prominently in later Moorcock books, most notably the idea of the megaflow and the metatemporal adventurer. These concepts are actually extensions of the multiverse concept presented in "The Sundered Worlds" - it's always nice to read "from the beginning", although the books are intended to be enjoyed without any prior knowledge of Moorcock's lore.

Going through Moorcock's writing in roughly chronological order has also been a good opportunity to read his many non-fantasy works which, frankly, I am much less familiar with. This chapter will provide thoughts and synopses of a few stories published between 1959 and 1965:
  • "Peace On Earth" (1959)
  • "Going Home" (1962)
  • "Flux" (1963)
  • "Not By Mind Alone" (1963)
  • "Good-bye, Miranda" (1964)
  • "The Deep Fix" (1964)
  • "The Time Dweller" (1964)
  • "Escape From Evening" (1965)
  • "The Pleasure Garden of Felipe Sagittarius" (1965)
  • "The Mountain" (1965)

"Peace on Earth" (1959, as "Michael Barrington", i.e., with Barrington J. Bayley)
This collaboration with friend Barry Bayley was Moorcock's first story published in an adult magazine (i.e. - not a juvenile or children's periodical). It was featured in New Worlds #89 (Dec 1959, collected in The Deep Fix (1966), and more recently in Earl Aubec and Other Stories (1999)). Uncommonly literate and philosophical for a writer in his teens, it takes a more existential view of humanity's future development than that found in most American space operas of the time.

Synopsis: 2,000,000 years in the future, humans have attained a state of immortality. Two explorers study a book written by the inventor of the technology to attain immortality. The book warns that Mankind has lost something which can only be found on Earth. The two explorers return to Earth and find only an abandoned spaceship buried in the dust. The two men walk out into the wilderness and find the skeleton of the man who had abandoned his ship. They then realize that they do not have enough oxygen to return to their own ship. They realize that the thing missing from an immortal life is death itself (life without death has no value) and that they had subconsciously neglected to prepare their air supply in order to find such a death. They die satisfied that they have found meaning in their lives.

"Going Home" (1962)
Published in SF Adventures #25 (Mar 1962, more recently collected in Earl Aubec and Other Stories (1999)), this story also has a somewhat cynical view of future humanity, although the protagonists do end up with a sense of closure, as they embrace their own identities rather than pursue solutions from the past (a theme later revisited in "Escape From Evening"). Despite the dystopic premise of both this and "Peace On Earth", both end up with relatively "happy" endings.

Synopsis: Three centuries after emigrating off Earth, astronauts from Veildo return to their mother planet to determine why their ancestors had left in the first place (their own records had been destroyed). When they arrive they learn that Earth has been stripped of all forms of art and is completely desolate as far as culture or variety. They are eventually asked to leave the planet. On the journey back to Veildo, they examine records obtained from the Earth government (under threat of violence) and learn that their ancestors had been exiled from Earth due to their “neurotic/paranoiac” tendencies, and that since then all such damaging inclinations towards creativity are eliminated from people at a young age (maintaining a continued peace of 300 years). The crewmen realize that Veildo is now their true home.

Sailing to Utopia interior, Art: Rick Berry
"Flux" (w. Barrington J. Bayley, 1963)
Published in New Worlds #132 (July 1963, collected in Moorcock's Book of Martyrs (1976), and more recently Sailing to Utopia (1993)), this tale, another collaborative effort with Barry Bayley, introduces a novel conception of time, one which, as far as I know is unique. The protagonist (initially "Max File", but later renamed "Max von Bek" in the 90s') discovers that time is not a logical progression of events, but something closer to a sequence of random moments (time slices), with each moment having its own identity and an artificial past (kind of a sequence of different multiverse realities). Von Bek also learns how to shape realities out of chaos, a technique later featured more prominently in 1964's "Master of Chaos". It all ends on a kind of ironic note, one which would fit in a 'Twilight Zone' episode.
     "Time had no sequence! It was not a continuous flowing. It had no positive direction. It went neither forwards, backwards, nor in a circle; neither did it stay still. It was totally random.
     The universe was bereft of logic. It was nothing but chaos."
Synopsis: Max File is selected to test out a time machine in order to solve the problems of today by visiting the world of the future. 10 years into the future he finds a dystopia in which social wars have driven Europe into a repressed state. He tries to go back to his own time but lands in a strange world populated by evolved lizards named the Yulk. The Yulk use their advanced technology to give him the ability to speak their language. Max has his time machine fixed and continues hopping through time, but is surprised to find that there is no logical progression to the timeline – the barren Earth of the Yulk actually precedes the Earth battered by social wars. After passing through various bizarre environments, he realizes that the timestream is completely in flux, that realities coalesce and dissipate one after another without consequence to each other and people’s memories of history are conjured up spontaneously. He realizes that his own time may in fact only be 1 half second out of an eternal procession of realities. Eventually his being disintegrates and is then somehow reformed, after which he gains the ability to form realities purely by force of will. He decides to form the Earth of his memories and to have it continue on into the future as a stable bulwark against the chaotic flux of time. He finds himself back in the time machine laboratory where he had started from – the only difference being that everyone now speaks the reptilian language of the Yulk (due to a holdover from the effects of his "education" with the Yulk) .

Wikiverse Entry

“Not by Mind Alone” (1963, later retitled "Islands")
Published in New Worlds #134 (Sept 1963, collected in Moorcock's Book of Martyrs (1976), and more recently in Earl Aubec and Other Stories (1999)), this story's concept of an infinite number of parallel time-space continuums is similar in many respects to the multiverse established in "The Sundered Worlds" (1962). It proposes some interesting philosophical questions related to what a navigable multiverse could really mean to society as a whole.
Synopsis: Dr. Schmeling discovers a man who claims to be living in his own space-time continuum – moving through time but seemingly in the same space. Schmeling takes him to a research center where the scientists are able to duplicate his ability to un-anchor himself from his current time-space. Schmeling tells the narrator that large devices have been built which will un-anchor the rest of humanity from their shared time space continuum, since shared continuums naturally cause individual realities to be perceived as “abnormal”. The narrator is skeptical of Schmeling's incredible tale, but his last words are written out of sequential (time) order.

Wikiverse Entry

"Good-bye, Miranda" (1964)
This short fable-like tale was published in New Worlds #143 (Jul/Aug 1964, collected in Moorcock's Book of Martyrs (1976), and more recently in Earl Aubec and Other Stories (1999)). Its fanciful gestures may remind one of an ethnic folk tale out of the past.

Synopsis: A man named Nicholas has learned how to fly and constantly flies around Miranda’s house telling her “Good-bye”. For three days he does this, driving her and her father mad. Miranda eventually kills her father and herself out of frustration. Nicholas discovers their corpses and flies away, somewhat unworried.

Wikiverse Entry

Compact 1966
"The Deep Fix" (1964)
Published in the same issue of Science Fantasy as the last installment of the Elric Stormbringer series (#64, April 1964, later collected in The Deep Fix (1966), and more recently The Best of Michael Moorcock (2009)), "The Deep Fix" was credited to "James Colvin", a name which John Carnell had selected "from the railway guide (I had preferred 'Mendoza')". Moorcock would reuse the nom de plume of James Colvin several times in the ensuing years, for both fiction and non-fiction features, usually to indicate something more "experimental" than what one could find in his fantasy stories. A name also later used for Moorcock's rock band, "The Deep Fix" is the portrayal of (spoiler alert) a 3-levels deep drug-induced fantasy-adventure, in which the protagonist uses as a drug trip as a method to unearth solutions to technical problems buried in his subconscious.
     "It was my first attempt to use the machinery of the sf story to explore perceptions of reality, something of an obsession with English writers to this day as well as Americans like Philip K. Dick and Thomas M. Disch, who knowingly used sophisticated symbolism in their work and who tended to be published in the more accepting British magazines."
Earl Aubec, Omnibus Introduction, 1993
Dedicated to William Burroughs ("for obvious reasons"), it was "intended as a kind of bridge for a reader between the fantasy they were reading in the magazine (Science Fantasy) and what I was enjoying in the Olympia Press Burroughs books." (LA Times 2009).

William Burroughs is most famous for his book Naked Lunch (1959), probably the most phantasmagorical book I ever read, featuring a cornucopia of bizarre and comically-grotesque imagery on every page, often delivered with a bit of noir-ish humor. It was essentially collected from scraps of text written while under the influence of drugs (if there's any truth to the movie adaptation). As Moorcock hints above, "The Deep Fix" is much more conventional than Burroughs' densely-packed psychedelic trip, as its chase/quest scenario allows for a more structured canvas to mount its surreal imagery on.

Artificial devices designed to understand and cure mental disease around the world backfire, resulting in a global apocalypse of depression, suicide and blood-frenzy. A scientist named Seward desperately searches for a way to cure humanity, while at the same time fighting off roaming mobs of madmen. In order to stay awake to continue his work, he injects himself with the experimental drug M-A 19 to act as a stimulant. Seward suddenly finds himself in a strange hallucinatory world where he encounters a diabolical Blue Man Without a Navel, grotesque torturers, attractive mother-daughter allies, a vampire, and a seductress. Eventually he wakes up in the midst of his “real” laboratory where he realizes that everything he had experienced from the beginning of the story had been an induced hallucination. The purpose of this “mental journey” had been to simulate an apocalyptic reality in order to increase Seward’s drive to find a solution to his design problems. When the apocalypse scenario had been insufficient to force his subconscious to come up with an answer, his dream-self had then induced a “secondary” dream world (through the use of the fictional M-A 19 drug) in which he had been forced to overcome symbolic enemies in order to finally find the answers he had been looking for. Now returned from both levels of dreamworlds, he tells his fellow scientists that he now has the answers to save the world before the collapse described in his dream state occurs. He also hints that his ardor for one of his coworkers had been substantiated in his dream state as one of the objects of desire he had met there.

"The Time Dweller" (1964)
Hart Davis 1969
Published in New Worlds #139 (Feb 1964, later collected in The Time Dweller (1969), more recently in Breakfast in the Ruins and Other Stories (2014)), this tale describes a far future in which the sun is burning itself out and the Earth has become a much less hospitable place to live. However it presents an interesting scenario by which the method for time travel is discovered (essentially through a semantic misunderstanding).

Synopsis: Sometime far in the future the Earth has become nearly uninhabitable. A man named Scar-faced Brooder leaves his home city of Lanjis Liho, which is ruled by the Chronarch of Time. He has no concept of time as a measured quantity, only its division into past, present and future. He eventually arrives at the city of Barbart, whose inhabitants live their lives strictly according to the city’s central clock. A villager tries to explain the concept of measured time to the mystified Brooder, and characterizes time as a series of durations marked by “recycled” clock hand revolutions. Brooder misunderstands this as meaning that they can control and redistribute time at will. Later, the city clock begins to malfunction and Brooder can see that it will soon explode and kill everyone. He embraces the Barbartians’ concept of recycling time literally and somehow manages to relive the preceding “time-area” over and over again until he has been able to find a way to freeze the clock and prevent its explosion. Later, his friend the Hooknosed Wanderer tells him that he has successfully pioneered the ability to manipulate time, the final result of all of his training at Lanjis Liho. With the Earth finally becoming uninhabitable in its old age, Man will now be able to escape its deteriorating environment by exploring time itself. Brooder has become the first Time Dweller.
     “Time and Matter are both ideas. Matter makes a more immediate impression on Man, but Time's effects are longer lasting. Therefore the Chronarchy, down the ages, has sought to educate its people into thinking of Time in a similar way as they think of Matter. In this way it has been possible to produce a science of time, like the science of physics. But it has only been possible to study time until now - not manipulate it… Your descendants, Scar-faced Brooder, shall be heir to continents of time as we have continents of space. They shall travel about in time, the old view of Past, Present and Future abolished.”

"Escape from Evening" (1965)
This story, published in New Worlds #148 (Mar 1965, collected in The Time Dweller (1969), and more recently in Breakfast in the Ruins and Other Stories (2014)) is a sequel to "The Time Dweller", but has a new protagonist, the Moon-based hunchback Pepin. This story introduces the term "megaflow", later used to describe the flow of time in books related to the Dancers at the End of Time sequence.

Synopsis: In the same far-future as that of Scar-faced Brooder, Pepin Hunchback, an inhabitant of humanity’s artificial settlement on the Moon, pines for what he believes are the “golden days” of Earth’s ancient past. He believes that humanity on the Moon is slowly becoming more machinelike, while humanity on Earth is slowly being wiped out by environmental change.
     “My race will not be human within a century - yours will not exist. Are we to perish? Are the values of humanity to perish - have the strivings of the last million years been pointless? Is there no escape from Earth's evening? I will not accept that!”
After journeying to Earth, he learns of Brooder’s ability as a “Time Dweller” from a chance meeting with Hooknosed Wanderer. Pepin journeys to Lanjis Liho hoping that the time dwellers there can show him how to travel into the past. Brooder tells him that his people have developed the ability to shift in time through self-development and that they cannot simply pass on this ability. Frustrated, Pepin nonetheless learns from Brooder’s attractive sister that the people of Lanjis Liho had once developed a machine to enable time travel. Pepin steals aboard the timeship and travels into the past, only to find a void. He then tries to travel to the future, where he encounters a colorful collision of chaotic light. Later Brooder explains that the universe travels along a “Megaflow”. The future is consumed as time marches forward along the Megaflow, leaving nothing but a void in its wake. There is no “past” to return to, as any travel along the Megaflow also leaves behind the physical universe. Brooder tells Pepin that his people plan to survive the increasingly hostile conditions of their present time and space by using the Megaflow to migrate to more hospitable “time-continents” (spheres of the multiverse). Pepin is forlorn that he will soon be left behind, but then sees Brooder’s sister approach him in the distance and is cheered up (it’s also possible that he has somehow obtained the ability to jump back in time to his first arrival at Lanjis Liho).

New Worlds 154, Art: James Cawthorn
"The Pleasure Garden of Felipe Sagittarius" (as James Colvin, 1965)

Published in New Worlds  #154 (Sept 1965, later included in The Deep Fix (1966), and more recently in My Experiences in the Third World War and Other Stories (2014)), this is the earliest "metatemporal" adventurer story (I think), as it uses the multiverse premise to allow Moorcock's protagonist to engage in a bit of Sexton Blake-like sleuthery in an alternate past reality. Here, famous 20th Century historical figures (both political and cultural) are recast in somewhat "diminished" roles. It's a fun story, but has even greater resonance after Moorcock revised the story in later reprints to connect the main characters to the Von Bek/Sir Seaton Begg mythology (established in The War Hound and the World's Pain (1981)). In the 2007 edition, Felipe Sagittarius is identified as Von Bek's nemesis Klosterheim, Sam Begg protects the Holy Grail from Hitler (who knows Kurt Weill as an acquaintance from Mirenburg (The City in the Autumn Stars (1986)), and a giant robot rampaging through Berlin is characterized as a "land leviathan" (The Land Leviathan (1974)). The collection The Metatemporal Detective (2007) features this and other "sleuth-iverse" stories.

Synopsis: Metatemporal Investigator Minos Aquilinas (updated to Minos Von Bek in 1992 and Sam Begg in 2007) visits the home of Berlin Police Chief Otto von Bismarck in order to investigate the mysterious murder of an intruder. The intruder, fitted with paper lungs (a modern trend to allow smokers to enjoy longer lives) had been found in Bismarck’s exotic garden, which is under the care of the furtive Felipe Sagittarius. In Bismarck’s love bungalow, Aquilinas finds a pendant with the initials E.B. Aquilinas soon crosses paths with Captain Adolph Hitler, Hitler’s tavern-singer lover Eva Braun, the bartender Kurt Weill, the tavern hanger-on Albert Einstein and a giant roaming robot. Eva is soon found dead, poisoned by a lethal gift – a fanged plant from Sagittarius’ garden. When confronted by Captain Hitler, Chief Bismarck admits that he had ordered Sagittarius to send Eva the plant because Aquilinas was getting too close to the truth – Bismarck and Eva (E.B.) were having an affair. Hitler confesses that he had earlier sent Eva’s ex-lover (Joseph Stalin) to follow her into Bismarck’s pleasure garden, with orders to kill Bismarck and Eva. He had hoped that Stalin would then be killed by Sagittarius’ killer vines on the way out - unfortunately, Stalin had been killed on the way in. Angry at Eva’s death, Hitler shoots and kill Bismarck. Distraught, Hitler runs into Sagittarius’ lethal garden and is consumed. Sagittarius blames Aquilinas for forcing Bismarck’s hand, leading to his promising protégé Hitler’s death.

"The Mountain" (1965)
     "While sitting on the peak of Mount Portafjallet and waiting for the mist to lift I had the nearest thing to a revelation. When I returned to England I decided to concentrate on my adult fiction. The Mountain is pretty much a straight account of the expedition to Arctic Lappland which caused me to revise any ideas I had previously had about writing conventional social fiction."
  -  Earl Aubec, Omnibus Introduction, 1993
Published in New Worlds #147 (Feb 1965, collected in The Time Dweller (1969), and more recently in My Experiences in the Third World War and Other Stories (2014)), this story begins on a bleak post-nuclear premise, but ends up focusing on the profound beauty of (almost) unspoiled nature. In some sense it could be perceived as having an environmentalist theme.

Synopsis: After a nuclear holocaust, only two men (Hallner and Nilsson) have apparently survived, as they had been hiking in Sweden near Norway during the fallout. When they find signs of a living woman, they follow her trail up a steep mountain. Hallner begins to lose interest in the whole affair and finds it enough simply to appreciate the wondrous nature around them. When they reach the peak of the mountain, the woman is nowhere to be seen. Hallner tells his partner that he may have seen signs of her down below (a “spread out shadow” on a glacier - i.e., dead). Nilsson heads back down after her and seemingly falls to his death. Hallner (probably dead) does not hear his scream.

Next Chapter: The Roads Between the Worlds (The Fireclown, Prof. Faustaff and the Twilight Man)

Previous Chapter: The Sundered Worlds