Michael Moorcock is best known today for his ambitious Eternal Champion story arc, which includes the sword & sorcery classic Elric of Melnibone, the Hawkmoon novels, the Chronicles of Corum, the Von Bek novels… and man, a whole lot more. Seriously, if you want to dive in, there’s a whole lot of reading ahead of you. The Wikipedia page, which lists roughly a billion novels and short stories in the seres, will get you started.
But some of Moorcock’s most acclaimed fantasies were standalone works — including the World Fantasy Award and John W. Campbell Award winner Gloriana: Or, The Unfulfill’d Queen, which first appeared nearly 40 years ago. The tale of a beautiful but sexually frustrated queen who finds herself drawn into deadly court intrigue, Gloriana has been reprinted over a dozen times, and at the end of the month Saga Press returns it to print again in a handsome new hardcover description. Here’s the description.
In this “spellbinding” (The Sunday Times) award-winning fantasy, the vast empire of Albion is ruled by the beautiful and forlorn queen, Gloriana who must battle against a nefarious scoundrel, Captain Quire, and a court soured by debauchery with her wits.
First published in 1978, Gloriana is the award-winning story set in the alternate English kingdom of Albion that reimagines Queen Elizabeth’s reign.
Bawdy, cruel, and brilliant, Gloriana has been awarded the World Fantasy Award and the John W. Campbell Memorial Award for Best Science Fiction, and is often cited as one of the great works of speculative fiction and fantasy along the lines of J.G. Ballard, Thomas Pynchon, and Philip K. Dick.
Gloriana has previously been published in the US by Avon Books, Questar, Warner Aspect, and the Science Fiction Book Club, and in the UK by Fontana, Gollancz Fantasy Masterworks, Gateway/Orion, and others. I’ve collected half a dozen examples below, with a gorgeous sampling of cover art — including the 1986 Flamingo edition, one of the rare examples of full frontal nudity I’ve ever seen on a mass market fantasy cover.
[Click on any of the images to embiggen.]
To start our tour, here’s the 1986 Questar/Popular Library edition, by an unknown artist.
This one has my favorite back cover text of the lot. You can click on the image above right to read it, but here it is:
Set in the court of Queen Gloriana of Albion, a fanciful alternative to that of Elizabeth I, Gloriana is a fantasy of secrets and skullduggery, a satire filled with wit and the farcical adventures of a lovely but sexually frustrated queen–and one of the most magical and wildly creative histories by one of science fiction’s truest innovators.
“The intrigues, the lords and gallants and maidens and sorcerers, the horny queen herself, are woven into a tapestry that is as wonderful as it is funny.” — Newsday
And here’s the 1979 Avon Books edition, with a wraparound cover by Elizabeth Malczynski.
Gloriana was published in paperback in Canada by Fontana/Collins in October 1978, with a Gustave Moreau reproduction on the cover (below left). The 1986 Flamingo is the nude, a reproduction of Orientalist painter Adrien Henri Tanoux’s lush Salammbo (center). And it was reprinted by the Science Fiction Book Club as part of their 50th Anniversary Collection (#18) in April 2005 (below right).
Finally, here the Fantasy Masterworks version from Gollancz/Orion, with a much better reproduction of the Gustave Moreau.
Our previous coverage of Michael Moorcock includes:
A Long-Overdue Retrospective: The Best of Michael Moorcock
A Cure For Cancer
The Warlord of the Air
The Black Corridor
The Chronicles of Corum
The Anti-Tolkien: Michael Moorcock in The New Yorker
Michael Moorcock on the Birth of Hawkmoon by Bill Ward
Michael Moorcock’s The Chronicles of Corum from Titan Books
Fiction Review: City of the Beast by Ryan Harvey
White Wolf, Black Gate: Moorcock’s The Stealer of Souls by James Enge
Andre Norton, Michael Moorcock and Appendix N: Advanced Readings in D&D
Michael Moorcock’s Fantasy Autobiography: The Whispering Swarm by James McGlothlin
Michael Moorcock’s Von Bek: A Review by Connor Gormley
Re-reading Michael Moorcock’s The History of The Runestaff: What I Missed the First Time Around by Connor Gormley
The Shout of a Young Man Who Finds the World a Complicated Place: The Eternal Champion by Fletcher Vredenburgh
See our complete coverage of Michael Moorcock here.
Gloriana: Or, The Unfulfill’d Queen will be published by Saga Press on November 29, 2016. It is 396 pages, priced at $27.99 in hardcover and $7.99 for the digital edition. The cover is by Richard Hunt.
See all our coverage of the best upcoming fantasy here.