Tuesday, August 25, 2015

The Whispering Swarm

Michael Moorcock
Tor, 2015 (my hardcover copy was gracefully provided by Tor for review)
Size: Average (my copy has 480 pages)
Theme: Fantasy
Narrative: first-person
Main character: Michael Moorcock
Recommended minimum age: Teenager
Would purchase as a gift to any sci-fi reader: UNLIKELY

This novel is a fictional biography of Michael Moorcock, being told in the first person as the story of his life, where he had fantastic adventures in an alternative reality part of London called Alsacia. It is book 1 of a new series, yet it provides a reasonable ending that allows being read by itself. The novel revolves much more around his family, his friends, and his acquaintances, with considerable emphasis on a myriad of inconsequential episodes of his life, while the focus on Alsacia and its fantastic set of characters often appears to be secondary. There are many references to sci-fi authors, and to the rise of the sci-fi genre and several of the magazines which turned it mainstream. The Alsacia plot revolves around him traveling to a location within London which is actually an alternate plane of existence with characters from different time periods (some of them well known from the literature).

I have to say I had not heard of Moorcock before, and I did not know his biography. He has an extensive list of works and has won several awards in the 70s. Still, this book was extremely boring for me. I struggled to keep reading through it and did it mostly since I make a point of finishing (nearly) any book I start. The plot is reasonably interesting and the story does pick up a bit in the last 100 pages. But overall, the pace and intricacies of events from his personal life spoiled this for me. The book might appeal to fans of historical fantasy but I cannot recommend it to a wide sci-fi & fantasy audience.