Thursday, 18 October 2012

Michael Moorcock: The Twilight Man (1966)

Also available under the title The Shores of Death
Edition: Sphere Books, 1970
Review number: 1466

Like The Blood Red Game (which I bought in the same second hand bookshop as The Twilight Man in May), this is a reworking of an earlier piece of writing, in this case a serial which was written to fill space in New Worlds during the earliest months of Moorcock's editorship of that later famous science fiction magazine.

Clovis Marca is a former leader of Earth's government, leading a humanity which is now doomed to extinction after an alien visitation has left everyone infertile. As the book begins, Marca returns from a year in space, his way of dealing with the catastrophe. The desperate decadence of the society he finds on his return is a clear precursor of my favourite Moorcock series, The Dancers at the End of Time.  The Twilight Man is a staging post between it and the Arthur C. Clarke novel, The City and the Stars, which appears to have influenced Moorcock greatly, though I do not actually know that he read this particular novel (as I discuss in its review). Doomed decadence is one of Moorcock's recurring themes, as well - part of what he wants to say to his readers through his writing.

While much more Moorcockian (so to speak) than The Blood Red Game, The Twilight Man is still not fully individual in its style: clearly still the work of a writer finding his way, even five years after the publication of the first Elric novel, The Stealer of Souls. Perhaps because it is more like the author's later work, The Twilight Man is less interesting to read than The Blood Red Game: it is slightly too much like the fan's guess as to what early Moorcock would be like to engage.

Reasonably enjoyable in itself, I would give The Twilight Man 6/10.

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