The Wrecks of Time

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A novel by Michael Moorcock, first serialised in New Worlds, issues 156 to 158, as by 'James Colvin'. Also published as The Rituals of Infinity.

Publishing History (UK)

  • Serialization, New Worlds #156-158, Compact Books, Nov 1965 - Jan 1966 - as by 'James Colvin'
  • Mass Market Paperback, Arrow, 192pp., ISBN: 0-09-004880-6, 5 Jul 1971 - as The Rituals of Infinity
  • Mass Market Paperback, Arrow, 192pp., ISBN: 0-09-910340-0, 1975 - as The Rituals of Infinity
  • Mass Market Paperback, Arrow, 192pp., ISBN: 0-09-004880-6, 1979 - as The Rituals of Infinity
  • B Format Paperback, NEL, 160pp., ISBN: 0-450-39532-4, Sep 1986, Cover by Mick Van Houten - as The Rituals of Infinity
  • Mass Market Paperback, Roc, 192pp., ISBN: 0-14-017349-8, 27 Jan 1994, Cover by James Cawthorn

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Omnibus Publication=

Publishing History (US)

  • Mass Market Paperback, Ace, 1967, Cover by Jack Gaughan
  • Mass Market Paperback, DAW, ISBN: 0-87997-404-4, Jun 1978, Cover by Michael Mariano - as The Rituals of Infinity
  • Paperback, Wilder Publications, 136pp., ISBN-13: 9781617203640, 17 April 2012

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Omnibus Publication

The Eternal Champion Vol 6: The Roads Between the Worlds, White Wolf, 1996 (hc), 1998 (tp)


Professor Faustaff, a big man, has inherited the organisation fighting the D-Squads trying to destroy the other worlds. His presence is a great source of comfort and morale to the members of his teams, which necessitates his travelling often between the alternates. It was while on Earth-3 that he first met Nancy Hunt, Steifflomeis and Maggy White. The latter two proved to be working for whoever had created the many worlds. Left behind on Earth-15 after the collapse of the tunneller his men had been using, he managed to escape just before its destruction, using Gordon Ogg's equipment, to Earth-11. Rather than stay with Cardinal Orelli after Ogg leaves he attempts to reach his own organisation's camp but is confronted by Steifflomeis, who intends to kill him but is stopped by Orelli. They are both taken to Orelli's base on Earth-4, where Stefflomeis teams up with Orelli and Faustaff is invoked to Earth-1.

While on Earth-1, Faustaff discovers that it is on the point of nuclear war and manages to evacuate all his team just before it happens. During his time on Earth-1 he is also told the news about the creation of Earth-Zero and, after escaping to Earth-3, learns that most of the other Earths are in danger. On Earth-3 Faustaff travels to the cottage used by Steifflomeis in Los Angeles and arrives to discover he is already there with Cardinal Orelli. While they are talking, Steifflomeis shifts the whole house to Earth-Zero, which appears to have an unreal quality about it. It is explained that certain Black and White magic rituals must be performed to activate the new simulation, and these will be carried out by the inhabitants who have been driven into a mindless state by the unreality of their surroundings. Faustaff, by the strength of his will is able to avoid this condition and is eventually taken by Maggy White to meet the principals, those who are responsible for the creation of the sub-space alternates or simulations. After hearing their story he appeals to them to let all the remaining Earths continue and this they agree to, leaving them all in orbit around the newly activated Earth-Zero, connected by golden bridges.

List of Earth Alternates

  • Earth-1 - Home of Professor Faustaff and the most advanced of the alternative Earths. Most of its people and civilisation were destroyed by a nuclear war. It was not connected to the other earths when the principals moved them from sub-space
  • Earth-2 - Similar to Earth-1 although it appears to be stuck in the early 1960s
  • Earth-3 - Mostly desert and ocean caused by an Unstable Matter Situation. The only cities are in a much altered North America. Compared to Earth-1 it stopped developing just after 1950
  • Earth-4 - Stopped progressing before WWI, mainly consists of the British Isles and Southern and Eastern Europe, all else being wasteland or water. Cardinal Orelli has his main base here in a cathedral situated in a vast icy plain. The cathedral was later shifted to Earth-Zero
  • Earth-5 - A mission to Mars from Earth-1 ended up here, its crew dead due to it unorthodox passage through sub-space
  • Earth-6 - Consists of nothing but freshwater oceans. Water from this alternative was imported to Earth-3 by Faustaff's organisation
  • Earth-7 - A vast continental atoll is the only land
  • Earth-8 - No information given on this alternative
  • Earth-9 - No information given on this alternative
  • Earth-10 - No information given on this alternative
  • Earth-11 - Comprised mainly of high mountains and barren valleys. Gordon Ogg and Cardinal Orelli maintained a base here while they looted Earth-15 prior to its breakup. Steifflomeis attempted to kill Professor Faustaff here but was thwarted by Orelli
  • Earth-12 - Covered in jungle
  • Earth-13 - Mostly a crystalline structure. "A world of blindingly bright crystal in hexagonal structures like a vast honeycomb" (Pg 43) Destroyed after the creation of Earth-Zero
  • Earth-14 - Composed primarily of glassy rock. "A world of green obsidian, ... misty, twilit, ghastly, with ghoul-like inhabitants." (Pg 43) Destroyed after the creation of Earth-Zero
  • Earth-15 - A world of grey ash, which comes from thousands of volcanoes. Most of its remaining inhabitants lived in underground caves until they were evacuated by Faustaff's organisation prior to its total break-up
  • Earth-16 - Extinct, caused by a UMS. Faustaff Snr, was killed here
  • Earth-17 to -24 - Only referred to in passing
  • Earth-Zero - Discovered while Earth-15 was being destroyed, it proved impossible to reach until Cardinal Orelli and Steifflomeis teamed up


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