Moorcock’s Book of Martyrs

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A paperback collection of short stories by Michael Moorcock first published in 1976 in the UK by Quartet. A second edition was published in 1981 by Granada. A US edition was published in 1978 by DAW under the title Dying for Tomorrow.

Publication History (UK)

  • Paperback, Quartet, 176 pp., ISBN: 0-7043-1265-4, 1976, Cover by Chris Achilleos
  • Paperback, Mayflower, 176 pp., ISBN: 0-583-13107-7, 16 Jul 1981, Cover by Melvyn

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Publication History (US)

  • Paperback, DAW, ISBN: 0-87997-366-8, 1978, Cover by Michael Whelan

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Stories

Thematic Notes

The stories in this collection may be grouped into two sets of three, with a seventh story standing alone (or included in either or both sets). The first set of three stories—i.e., “A Dead Singer”, “The Greater Conqueror” and “Behold the Man (novella)”—focus upon the deaths and/or martyrdoms of famous people whose deaths do not explicitly indicate that “death is no obstacle”, i.e., that bodily or spiritual resurrection (or reconstitution, reshuffling, etc.) of the famous protagonists in the multiverse will occur or has occurred; it is at best ambiguous whether the resurrections of either Jimi Hendrix or Christ were real events or delusions held by the famous personages’ followers. There is no mention whatsoever of the multiverse in this set, impliedly or otherwise. By contrast, the second set of stories—i.e., “Flux”, “Islands”, and “Waiting for the End of Time...” — explicitly depicts death as an unreality in the multiverse; also in contrast to the first group, the protagonists of the second group of stories are not famous — though not unexceptional — people. The first group of stories seems to focus on “death” and the second upon “resurrection” (alternately, “dying”/”for tomorrow”). (See also the quote from p. 8 of the Introduction below.)

The word “multiverse” is not explicitly used in the second set of stories, either, but its presence as a concept is a key feature to all of the resurrection tales; it is described in all but name in all of them.

Between the two sets has been placed “Goodbye, Miranda” which is stylistically the most avant garde of the stories in the collection, as its structural form features aspects of both songs and poems, and its textual style implies far more than it describes. Thematically, it contains elements that are related to both sets of stories, but it is without a doubt sui generis, especially as against the other tales included here.

Mike Says

  • "Some of the ‘martyrs’ of these stories are primarily people who seek to impose a private vision on the world and who suffer accordingly…Another simpler theme to be found in several of these stories is that of the individual without much natural aggression who is crushed by an intolerant world."[1]

Notes

  1. Dying for Tomorrow, Introduction, p. 8.

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