Sunday, May 3, 2009

sf for free! print edition: Elric of Melnibone!

A couple of months ago I lamented in a post that there was no free fiction available from Michael Moorcock. Therefore, I am delighted to help spread the word that The Stealer of Souls, the first in a new volume of Moorcock's classic Elric stories is now available for you to read online. If you've already read Moorcock, you'll want to have another look--and to read the foreward by Alan Moore and the new introduction by Mike himself. If you haven't read any Elric, don't miss the chance to check it out for nothing!

From Alan Moore's forward:
Its alabaster hero Elric, decadent, hallucinatory and feverish, battled with his howling, parasitic blade against a paranoiac back-drop that made other fantasy environments seem lazy and anaemic in their Chinese-takeaway cod orientalism or their snug Arcadian idylls. Unlike every other sword-wielding protagonist in the anthology, it was apparent that Moorcock’s wan, drug-addicted champion would not be stigmatized by a dismaying jacket blurb declaring him to be in the tradition of J.R.R. Tolkien. The Melnibon√©an landscape— seething, mutable, warped by the touch of fractal horrors— was an anti-matter antidote to Middle Earth, a toxic and fluorescing elf repellent. Elric’s world churned with a fierce and unself-conscious poetry, churned with the breakneck energies of its own furious pulpdeadline composition. Not content to stand there, shuffling uneasily beneath its threadbare sword and sorcery banner, Moorcock’s prose instead took the whole stagnant genre by its throat and pummeled it into a different shape, transmuted Howard’s blustering overcompensation and the relatively tired and bloodless efforts of Howard’s competitors into a new form, a delirious romance with different capabilities, delivered in a language that was adequate to all the tumult and upheaval of its times, a voice that we could recognize (p. xv).
And from the beginning of the Melnibone tales...
Elric, the moody-eyed wanderer—a lonely man who fought a world, living by his wits and his runesword Stormbringer. Elric, last Lord of Melnibon√©, last worshipper of its grotesque and beautiful gods—reckless reaver and cynical slayer—torn by great griefs and with knowledge locked in his skull which would turn lesser men to babbling idiots. Elric, moulder of madnesses, dabbler in wild delights...(pp. 11-12)
I discovered these stories when I was a sophomore in high school (back in the late 70s) and consumed the entire six book series (from DAW books, of course) in a couple of days. I'd still put them near the top of the list of the epic fantasy I've read.

Thanks for the tip go to SF Signal, who regularly alert us to the existence of new free sf possibilities.

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