The Sundered Worlds

Michael Moorcock
The Sundered Worlds Cover

The Sundered Worlds


In the past I've shrugged The Sundered Worlds off as a proto-New Wave SF book at best, a hint at where Moorcock would eventually lead the SFF writing community during his tenure as editor at New Worlds of Science Fiction magazine. However, this time around, I'm seeing things in the story that make it so much more than I realised.

There are threads in here that lead out to a whole host of Moorcock's other works, including the vast majority of his Eternal Champion/Multiverse creations. The two novellas that make up this fix-up novel were originally written and published around the same time as his earlier Elric stories, as well as the original novella version of The Eternal Champion, and it's hard not to draw parallels between the themes raised in those more recognisably fantasy works and those raised in the stories of Renark the Wanderer and Asquiol of Pompeii in this volume. It's also nigh on impossible to ignore the building blocks of the much larger multiverse that would ultimately grow out of Moorcock's later works.

And speaking of the multiverse, this books is cited as the first instance of the term being used in its current physics context, and Moorcock really does go out of his way to try and capture the insanity and chaos of the many-layered multiverse. The descriptions of Adam Roffrey's journey through the planet Roth are the very model of chaos in action; disturbing and disorienting and beautiful and poetic, all at the same time. This same pervading sense of chaos is then later projected onto both Asquiol and Mary as they begin to embrace their connection to the multiverse.

There's a lot to unpack in this short novel, especially if you read with one eye on the rest of Moorcock's work over the years, and while it's far from the best writing he's produced, it definitely sets the stage for much of what was to come after.