The Land Leviathan

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The second novel in the Oswald Bastable trilogy, The Nomad of Time.

Publishing History (UK)

  • Hardcover, Quartet, 161pp., ISBN: 0-7043-2018-5, 20 May 1974, Cover by Chris Foss
  • Softcover with Dust Jacket, Quartet, 176pp., ISBN: 0-7043-3013-X, 20 May 1974, Cover by Chris Foss
  • Mass Market Paperback, Quartet, 160pp., ISBN: 0-7043-1224-7, 1975, Cover by Chris Foss
  • Mass Market Paperback, Orbit, 160pp., ISBN: 0-7043-1224-7, 1976, Cover by Chris Achilleos
  • Mass Market Paperback, Granada, 176pp., ISBN: 0-583-13102-6, 17 Sep 1981, Cover by Melvyn
  • Mass Market Paperback, Grafton, 176pp., ISBN: 0-586-20997-2, 25 Jan 1990, Cover by Paul Damon

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Omnibus Publication

Publishing History (US)

  • Hardcover, Doubleday, 150pp., ISBN: 0-385-01473-2, Jun 1974
  • Mass Market Paperback, DAW, ISBN: 0-87997-214-9, 1976, Cover by Michael Whelan (six printings)
  • Paperback, Titan Books, ISBN: 978-1781161463, 16 April 2013

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Omnibus Publication

  • The Nomad of Time, SFBC, 1982
  • A Nomad of the Time Streams, White Wolf, 1995 (hc), 1997 (tp)

Synopsis[1]

* * The following section may contain spoilers * *

The story of Oswald Bastable's continuing adventures "trapped forever in the shifting tides of time" is framed with the conceit of the book being a long lost manuscript, as related by Moorcock's grandfather. Several years after Bastable disappeared, in 1910 the elder Moorcock travels to China in an attempt to track him down, meeting Una Persson of the Jerry Cornelius novels on the way who before disappearing leaves him a manuscript written by Bastable for Moorcock, relating what happened to Bastable after he unexpectedly left the elder Moorcock at the end of The Warlord of the Air, probably bound for another alternate 20th century.

Bastable's story takes in a post-apocalyptic early twentieth century between 1904 and 1908, where Western Europe and the United States have been devastated by accelerated technological change, which led to a prolonged global war, causing their reversion to barbarism and savagery. By contrast, South Africa is ruled by Gandhi, apartheid never happened, and is an oasis of civilisation which stayed out of the conflict, being an affluent, technologically advanced nation in this alternate, anti-imperialist twentieth century. To restore civilisation and social order in the afflicted Northern Hemisphere, a 'Black Attila' leads an African army to beneficent if paternalist conquest of Europe and an apocalyptic war against the United States featuring the "vast, moving ziggurat of destruction" of the title.

The historical personage of our world appearing as alternate versions of themselves include:

  • Gandhi is president of the wealthy, Marxist Republic of Bantustan (which is our world's South Africa);
  • Herbert Hoover is a racist New York city gangster organizing the city's last stand against the black, African-based New Ashanti Empire. White Americans have re-introduced African-American slavery as they blame the latter as scapegoats for epidemics that were actually initiated by biological warfare among the perished Western nations;
  • P. J. Kennedy is an amateur explosives hack which makes him the local mob lord or tribal chief of Wilmington
  • Frederic Courtland Penfield, formerly a U.S. diplomat in our world as well as the one Bastable visits, is founder of a new Ku Klux Klan. He also serves as a nominal 'president' over a de facto, skeletal 'United States', in Washington, D.C. The former capital has been surprisingly immune from bombing and missile attack (as the government had fled into subterranean shelters at the beginning of the Great War) which makes up most of his realm. In some editions, the character is renamed "Beesley", whose description resembles that of Bishop Beesley, a character from the Jerry Cornelius novels.
  • Joseph Conrad as submarine captain Joseph Korzeniowski.

Notes

  1. Taken from the Wikipedia article [1]

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