Saturday, 20 June 2015

The Whispering Swarm.

Alsacia,the name of a small community in the heart of London, a community tucked away behind a gateway that hides a fold in the world where things that might have been brush up against what we believe to be real. (King Henry III is reputed to have deeded the land to an order of friars reputed to guard a holy relic or totem of great power in the thirteenth century)Michael Moorcock stumbled across the entrance to this lost world as a young man so I know this to be true. He has returned there many times and he recalls the details of every trip with a sense of detail that borders on fictional in The Whispering Swarm even as the wheel of time grinds on and on. Reality blurs in a dreamlike way as he shares his memories of those times.

The above artwork by Mark Mc Keown (Belfast based animator and artist.)was actually also inspired by his reading this wonderful new book by the great man himself and it really is as if he is turning the pages of the opening chapters for us. Once you begin to read them you will feel like you must continue. You must go on. You must step through.
It truly seems like a lost world, that loss made all the more poignant by the quality of what we have allowed to slip away. A friend once said to me  that nothing is really lost as long as people remember. Sadly the human brain is an organic machine that ages and fails in time. Anything stored there goes with it. Its archive only valid as its owner lives breathes and articulates its content. In reading the opening earlier chapters Michael Moorcock shares with us the influence of his varied and vast reading choices. It is a world of reading filled with historic adventure with heroes and heroines of shady morality but vibrant with life. Mad, Bad and Dangerous to know as they used to say. The book itself has that lively quality feeling more like memory than fiction and I could have run all night with the characters it introduced me to. In our world, a side step from a world of tumbling fictions, Michael Moorcock is plagued by an insistent whispering buzz that only goes quiet when he crosses into the Sanctuary Of The White Friars. I had a similar problem only curable by tea with Tumnas or a pipe stuffed with Long bottom leaf puffed or a challenging chess match against Leela Of The Sevateam sitting on the floor of a Tardis. Sometimes the only sanctuaries to be had are the ones we build in our minds.
                It said on the cover of this book that it is his first book in ten years. For some reason not counting his majestic Coming Of The Terraphiles. The Doctor and Amy book he wrote which stands up to rereading time and again. So many have missed a lovable treat when they passed on this book because it might appear to be part of a larger franchise. It is, it is part of a universal mind and all the better for it.As much as I enjoyed that book this one had the edge on it. It engaged me on a level that felt truly fantastical.
                 Like that gated and timeless community of Alsacia there is a magical relic at the heart if it which defies time and cultural change.; the memory and mind of Michael Moorcock.