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Tales of the Texas Woods by Michael Moorcock

Tales of the Texas Woods

by Michael Moorcock

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My reaction to reading this collection in 1998. Spoilers follow.

“Introduction” -- An interesting introduction in which Moorcock reveals, surprisingly, (I saw no clue of this before reading his collection Fabulous Harbors), a long standing fascination with the American West and tales of it. Indeed, some of his first sold writing was pulp Westerns.

“The Ghost Warriors” -- A tale featuring a new Moorcock hero, the Masked Buckaroo (mentioned in Moorcock’s Fabulous Harbors and The War Amongst the Angels), Count Ulrich aka Monsieur Zenith, his nemesis Sexton Begg, and some marauding Apaches. The disguised Ulrich leads a band of Ghost Warriors in an elaborate ruse to get the trumpet note (supplied by a pursuing military party) needed to magically open the pathway to the Grey Fees or Realm Below and the multiverse beyond. Besides the story’s wit, I liked the deliberate echoes of the Ghost Dance in the Ghost Warriors and their quest for a land of “lost dreams” where herds of buffalo still roamed, justice prevailed, and virtue is rewarded. I also like that, though the Masked Buckaroo is willing to let Count von Bek escape unpursued, that indefatigable force of Law, Sexton Begg, is not about to give up the chase just because Ulrich went to the Grey Fees.

“About My Multiverse” -- Short explanation of how mathematician Mandlebrot’s chaos theory and fractal sets lent coherence to Moorcock’s conception of the multiverse, its use as a political propaganda metaphor for the “Happy Mean” (which seems to resemble the unconvincing “Third Way” between capitalism and communism),and Moorcock’s belief that popular culture is where authority can be attacked.

“The Further Adventures of Sherlock Holmes: In the Adventure of the Texan’s Honour by John M. Watson, M.D.” -- Competent Holmes pastiche with transvestism being explicitly discussed and homosexuality hinted at. We also get an explanation of High and Afternoon teas and their difference.

“How Tom Mix Saved My Life” -- Interesting history and appreciation of the early silent cowboy actors with emphasis on Tom Mix and his movie My Pal, the King and their influence on Moorcock.

“A Catalogue of Memories: The Family Library Vol. XVII. No. VII” -- A not very interesting annotated bibliography of books in the library of Sir Arthur Moorcock, a character in Moorcock’s The War Amongst the Angels.

“Sword of Ivory: An Introduction to Fritz Leiber’s Gray Mouser Stories” -- An appreciation of Leiber’s importance to sf and fantasy and also some stuff I didn’t know about how editors Cele Goldsmith and Judith Merrill created and fostered the sword and sorcery (publisher and editor Donald A. Wollheim also helped) sub-genre of fantasy and sf’s New Wave authors.

“The Sum of Its Parts: A Review of ‘The Arabian Nights: A Companion”, Robert Irwin” -- Interesting book review in which I learned the convoluted provenance of many of the tales of the Arabian Knights, their variety, and the problematic translations.

“My Comic Life” -- Account of Moorcock’s early and extensive involvement with comic books and his return to comics with the Michael Moorcock’s Multiverse series.

“Johnny Lonesome Comes to Town: A tale of the Far West” -- A Western pulp story only interesting because it shows Moorcock’s young talent in 1956.

“Bryan Talbot’s The Adventures of Luther Arkwright” -- A piece ostensibly introducing a new comic book series by artist and writer Bryan Talbot. However, it’s mostly about Moorcock attacking conservative British and American politicians. Moorcock also tells briefly what value he sees in the 60s art that inspired his Jerry Cornelius series.

“Disarming Evil: A Review of ‘From the Teeth of Angels,’ Jonathan Carroll” -- Brief review of Carroll’s life and work.

“Sir Milk-and-Blood: An Incident in the Life of the Eternal Champion” -- A mostly realistic tale about two IRA members in hiding after a botched bombing which killed a bunch of children. One is feeling very remorseful and guilty. Monsieur Zodiac shows up with their “release”, one of Moorcock’s ubiquitous and vampiric black blades. ( )
1 vote RandyStafford | Aug 10, 2013 |
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