By Michael Moorcock, illustrated by Rodney Matthews (Paper Tiger)
ISBN: 1-85028 032-0
He doesn’t demonstrate it often enough but Michael Moorcock has a wicked, absurdist sense of humour. One occasion of this is marvelously captured and reinterpreted in this deliciously odd collaboration with fantasy illustrator and heavy metal/prog-rock art icon Rodney Matthews. The prose book this tale is taken from collects short stories of the doom-drenched last-Emperor of a dead race, with the titles tale deviating ever so slightly from the breast-beating norm…
Elric is a tragic incarnation of the Eternal Champion, reincarnated in every time, place and alternate dimension. His life is blood and tragedy, exacerbated by his dependence on a soul-drinking black sword and his sworn allegiance to the chimerical Lords of Chaos. But what happens when he is lost in a place where time has ended?
Misplaced from his proper situation he finds himself in the indulgent, entropic, oh-so-bored company of the Dancers at the End of Time where an effete and omnipotent group of beings are desperately trying to keep themselves amused until the inevitable finally happens.
Elric believes he’s been shanghaied to the realms of ultimate chaos – a belief his hosts are delighted to encourage – and only the duty-bound Una Persson, Top Agent of Time Central, cares about returning the lost Melnibonéan to his point of origin before all reality unravels…
This novella is a mock heroic, surreal delight, that revels in lancing its own pretensions, expanded to fill this lush 120 page album by the incredible, unique art work of Matthews who eschews sequential narrative for a panoramic series of (21) lavishly painted plates, spreads and vignettes and a further 11 illustrations ranging from cameos to spreads in eerie black and white.
Controversial among fans who either love or hate it, this is still a terrific read, outré and startling, and one that fantasy and illustration fans should see. Well worth the effort needed to track it down.
© 1987 Dragon’s World Ltd. Text © 1981 Michael Moorcock. Illustrations © 1981 Rodney Matthews. All Rights Reserved.