White Wolf Publishing did a superb job in collecting Michael Moorcock's fantasy work into these beautiful omnibus editions. This volume, eight in the series, contains three novels and one short story, none of which have any obvious connection to the "Eternal Champion" theme. The tales do have some common elements, however; all four pieces feature a group of travelers fleeing a crumbling or decaying society and looking for solutions elsewhere, or "elsewhen."
The Ice Schooner depicts a future Ice Age. A small civilization is established on the ice fields, cities are built into crevasses, and trades and whalers ply the frozen oceans in their ice ships. Konrad Arflane, a typically moody and grim Moorcock hero, undertakes a quest to New York to discover why the ice is melting and his civilization possibly coming to an end. A rare example of pure SF from Moorcock; well told and atmospheric, with a perhaps too hasty resolution.
The Black Corridor, written with Moorcock's then-wife Hilary Bailey, reads more like a Robert Silverberg novel than Moorcock piece. A group of space travelers in cryogenic freeze are fleeing an Earth where xenophobia and war are destroying civilization. One man remains awake to operate the spaceship, and reflects on his final years on Earth, as the world crumbles around him. This is one of Moorcock's best works, taut, suspenseful, evocative, and horrifying. I've read this one three times since it originally appeared in 1969, and it still has an impact... and I'm not sure I completely understand it.
The Distant Suns, a collaboration with British artist and author James Cawthorn, appears in this volume for the first time in the U.S. Again, civilization is crumbling and a trio of space explorers set out to find an answer. (The characters are Jerry, Frank, and Catherine Cornelius, but names aside, they have no apparent connection to the Cornelius characters of Moorcock's other stories.) Written in a hyperventilating pulp style, the purpose here is perhaps to satirize pulp SF clichés, but the authors mimic the purple prose of the 40s too closely for my taste, and I quickly tired of this one, skimming through the last hundred pages to get a general idea of the plot. This ranks as one of Moorcock's misses for me... or perhaps I just missed the point.
Flux, a short story written with Barrington J. Bayley, describes a near future Europe, again facing imminent destruction, which sends an operative into the future to discover a solution. Anyone familiar with Bayley's work will not be surprised to find this story brimming over with madcap ideas. While not as polished as Bayley's later writings (to say nothing of Moorcock's) this is an enjoyable and thought-provoking tale.
Recommended for anyone who enjoys Moorcocks' early SF and fantasy works.