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A Long-Overdue Retrospective: The Best of Michael Moorcock

Friday, September 30th, 2016 | Posted by John ONeill

the-best-of-michael-moorcock-small the-best-of-michael-moorcock-back-small

Tachyon Publications released The Best of Michael Moorcock, edited by John Davey and Ann & Jeff VanderMeer, back in 2009, and I finally bought a copy last month. I don’t know what took me so long.

Moorcock has an enormous back catalog of fantasy; so vast I’ll never be able to read even a fraction of it. But this book finally gives me the opportunity I’ve wanted for years: to sample the full range of Moorcock’s storytelling craft in one compact volume, with some of his most famous stories — including his famous 1968 Nebula Award winning novella “Behold the Man,” the Elric tale “A Portrait in Ivory,” and the Jerry Cornelius story “The Visible Men.”

The book received rave notices when it first appeared. Bookgasm says it “Serves as a superb introduction to the boundless imagination of this unique and fascinating author,” and The Guardian calls it “A long-overdue retrospective.” And Booklist says it’s “A wild, fascinating batch of stories fairly balancing the fantastic and the nearly ordinary, and showcasing Moorcock’s talent very well.”

Here’s the complete Table of Contents.

Introduction by John Davey
“A Portrait in Ivory” (Logorrhea: Good Words Make Good Stories, May 2007)
“The Visible Men” (Nature, May 18, 2006)
“A Dead Singer” (Factions, 1974)
“Lunching With the Antichrist” (Fabulous Harbours, 1995)
“The Opium General” (The Opium General, Dec 1984)
“Behold the Man” (New Worlds SF, September 1966)
“A Winter Admiral” (Lunching with the Antichrist: A Family History: 1925-2015)
“London Bone” (New Worlds, 1997)
“Colour” (New Worlds 1, Sep 1991)
My Experiences in the Third World War:
-Going to Canada (My Experiences in the Third World War, September 1980)
-Leaving Pasadena (My Experiences in the Third World War, September 1980)
-Crossing Into Cambodia (Twenty Houses of the Zodiac, July 1979)
“Doves in the Circle” (The Time Out Book of New York Short Stories, November 1997)
“The Deep Fix” (Science Fantasy #64, April 1964)
“The Birds of the Moon” (The Birds of the Moon: A Travellers’ Tale, July 1995)
“The Cairene Purse” (Zenith 2, July 1990)
“A Slow Saturday Night at the Surrealist Sporting Club” (Redshift: Extreme Visions of Speculative Fiction, December 2001)
Afterword by Ann and Jeff VanderMeer

The Best of Michael Moorcock was published by Tachyon Publications on May 1, 2009. It is 403 pages, priced at $14.95 in trade paperback. There is no digital edition.

10 Comments »

  1. Does this volume contain the whole novella of Behold the Man?

    Comment by James McGlothlin - October 1, 2016 3:49 pm

  2. Yes, it does. (Why wouldn’t it contain the whole novella?)

    Comment by John ONeill - October 1, 2016 6:34 pm

  3. Given the size of the book, I thought Behold might take up too much room to include the whole thing.

    Comment by James McGlothlin - October 2, 2016 1:20 am

  4. “Behold the Man” takes up 49 pages, and in the notes the editors say that the version presented here is “pretty much as it appeared in New Worlds” in September 1966.

    Moorcock expanded it into a novel in 1969, but this version is the original novella.

    Comment by John ONeill - October 2, 2016 1:42 am

  5. I don’t have my paperbacks of Behold in front of me (I have an American and a British version of the novella), but I know both are longer than 50 pages. I would guess they’re both around 120 pages. Maybe that’s why I was wondering if the whole text was in this Tachyon volume.

    Comment by James McGlothlin - October 2, 2016 5:06 pm

  6. Behold the Man is 160 pages in my Avon “Equinox/SF Rediscovery” oversized paperback. (I love those editions, by the way. Some John or other should do a piece on them one day…)

    Comment by Thomas Parker - October 2, 2016 5:25 pm

  7. > Behold the Man is 160 pages in my Avon “Equinox/SF Rediscovery” oversized paperback.

    Yeah, that’s the novel version.

    behold-the-man-michael-moorcock-sf-rediscovery

    It shares the Bob Foster cover art from the 1970 Avon paperback.

    behold-the-man-michael-moorcock

    I’m trying to figure out if there’a longer version of the novella (between the novel, and the New Worlds edition).

    > (I love those editions, by the way. Some John or other should do a piece on them one day…)

    Agreed! I only have a handful of them though, so I have some collecting to do first!

    Comment by John ONeill - October 2, 2016 5:59 pm

  8. My Mayflower edition (Granada Publishing in England) has 142 pages. I also have the Avon edition that John has pictured.

    I’m sure the Tachyon edition puts a lot more words per page to get this down to 49 pages.

    Comment by James McGlothlin - October 2, 2016 7:42 pm

  9. James, the magazine version was a lot shorter. It’s just a novella, not a novel.

    Moorcock expanded the original magazine version into a novel in 1969. But what the Taychon book reprints is the original short version.

    Comment by John ONeill - October 2, 2016 8:52 pm

  10. Got it—finally.

    Comment by James McGlothlin - October 3, 2016 12:18 am


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