revisions in omnibus volumes: how drastic?


Active Member
Jun 25, 2009
I've never seen E.T.
The title of this post says it all, so feel free to skip this background.

I catalog my books on LibraryThing. One of their discussion groups is called 50 book challenge, which is just what it sounds like: you post your intent to read some number of books over some period of time, maybe from a list, maybe just whatever, then update as you progress. 50 in a year is pretty typical. I'm seriously thinking of a Moorcock bender.

I collect mass market paperbacks and have a little over 50 separate Moorcock titles. Can anyone tell me about the revisions M. made for the omnibus volumes? In your opinion, are any of them so drastic that you would recommend I seek them out rather than read the corresponding paperback(s)? For that matter, can you think of any editions of particular works that should be avoided at all costs? On one hand I'm fairly easy to please. On the other, given my age and (bad) reading habits, this will undoubtedly be the only time I read the majority of these titles.

Thanks for any thoughts you might have about this question or the whole idea of a 50 best/essential/representative list.
a great idea and with a writer as prolific as MM, you shouldn't have any trouble finding 50 books to read.
A difficult one to answer, really. I think I'd pick up at least the first two (The Eternal Champion and Von Bek), as there are substantial alterations there, as well as some additional material in The Eternal Champion omnibus which ties the books in with later shifts in his multiverse (the Second Ether books, in particular) more tightly. (The revisions to The City in the Autumn Stars, as I recall, are quite notable, as Moorcock was never satisfied with that particular novel to begin with, and became less so as time went on, thus used the opportunity of the omnibus edition to do something about it, iirc.) I believe there are other volumes which have the same extent of revision, but most of these I've not read since they first came out, so I can't swear to my memory on that one. So it may be a bit of "mix-'n'-match", depending on what it is you're looking for....

And, of course, there's the collection Earl Aubec (part of that set), which brings back into print a huge amount of Moorcock's shorter fiction, some of which has been long unavailable, others of which were simply published in difficult-to-find original venues; or the odd Cornelius-themed anthology, The New Nature of the Catastrophe, which I do not hesitate to recommend (a fair amount of that material is by Moorcock, but there are also a lot of very good pieces by other hands, as well).

By the way, I strongly recommend the Second Ether books (Blood, Fabulous Harbours, The War Amongst the Angels), Michael Moorcock's Multiverse (graphic novel), and Mother London as part of any Moorcock binge, as these are all quite integral to the later development of his multiverse, as well as simply being marvelous books in their own right.
I think I'd pick up at least the first two (The Eternal Champion and Von Bek), as there are substantial alterations there, as well as some additional material in The Eternal Champion omnibus which ties the books in with later shifts in his multiverse (the Second Ether books, in particular) more tightly.

I was afraid of that. I know once I buy a couple of the omnibus volumes I'll feel compelled to get them all, hopeless fanboy that I am.

Will definitely seek out Earl Aubec: I've read a handful of M. novels over the years but almost no shorter works. I want to correct that.

The Second Ether stuff in Multiverse blew me away (Simonson + cosmic = win). I'll make a point of including Blood, at least.

Mother London is definite.

Thanks for the help!
I was afraid of that. I know once I buy a couple of the omnibus volumes I'll feel compelled to get them all, hopeless fanboy that I am.

Hmmm. You sound like me. And that's a dangerous thing to be, with Moorcock. Just wait until there's yet another uniform, authoritative edition of his work....:D

In that, he reminds me a bit of Balzac and Cabell -- even more the former than the latter. (Yes, that's right; I'm comparing MM to Honoré de Balzac, as I see some interesting similarities, both strengths and weaknesses.) In each case, they had a tendency to revise -- sometimes quite heavily -- as their conceptions of the interrelationships between their various works changed, largely because they began to see more and more that the entirety really was (is, in Mike's case) a single whole....

The Second Ether stuff in Multiverse blew me away (Simonson + cosmic = win). I'll make a point of including Blood, at least.

If you liked that, you're gonna love the books themselves.... I'd put them high on a list of Moorcock's best....

Mother London is definite.

Do me a favor once you've read it... give some feedback on it, please! I'm really quite surprised I haven't seen any feedback on that novel worth speaking of, considering it really is among Moorcock's best, richest, and more warm-hearted works....
Oh hell. I had a coupon for 50% off any item at Half Price Books and I used it to get a hardcover Elric: the Stealer of Souls from the collectibles shelf. By the time I had it home I knew I had to have the other White Wolf books. So that's gonna suck. My own fault. I passed them up 10 years ago and here's where I pay the piper.

But I'm not waiting 'til I have all the omnibuses to start this insane project. "The Compleat Moorcock" began today with the first half of The War Hound and the World's Pain. Tomorrow I'll see if there's a thread dedicated to it or to Von Bek in general.

I'll be working from this list, found via this thread (thanks, J.D.!), except that I don't plan to read all the non-E.C. stuff in a big lump at the end, as listed, but scattered throughout.

Wish me luck!
Don't feel too badly. Though I managed to get all of them in one form or another (the American editions, anyway -- I've got The New Nature of the Catastrophe as well), three of them I couldn't find in hardback when I went looking for them, only tpb. And now the prices I've seen on those three are far beyond my abilities at this point... so I've got almost the entire 15-volume set in nice, pristine, hardbound... save for three, in a trade paper edition which isn't going to withstand too much usage....:(
In response to the OP, the only novel that was drastically revised in the omnibus series from its standalone publication was The Steel Tsar in A Nomad of the Time-Streams and which is effectively a different novel now, with at least a third of the original 1981 novel re-written.

The Warlord of the Air in the same omnibus was not revised as such but used the uncensored text for the first time ever in the UK and the first time since 1973 in the US. Moorcock's UK publishers wanted certain changes made to certain character's names for legal reasons - since they were supposed to be alternate reality versions of real life personalities, such as Mick Jagger and Ronald Reagan - which Moorcock agreed to because the uncensored had been already published by Ace Books in the US. However, when DAW Books republished Warlord in 1978 for some (unknown) reason they used the censored UK text not the US text, which meant all subsequent US editions (including the A Nomad of Time omnibus) were also unnecessarily 'censored' until the ANotTS omnibus was published. If acquiring a copy of the A Nomad of the Time-Streams omnibus I would recommend the White Wolf edition as superior to the UK edition.

Many other novels/stories had more minor revisions made to them - such as characters renamed - but the Hawkmoon omnibus has a number of continuity errors fixed making it the preferred definitive text (the same version as used in the recent re-issuing of the standalone volumes by Tor Books last year, btw).

Stormbringer was (again) revised for the omnibus series but the current preferred definitive text is now to be found in Del Rey's Elric: The Stealer of Souls collection (2008) - not to be confused with White Wolf's Elric: The Stealer of Souls omnibus - which contains parts of the original 1964-5 novellas that had been missing from the novel since it was revised/restored in 1977(!) as well as the best versions of all the various revisions.

The Sundered Worlds, as included in the White Wolf The Eternal Champion omnibus, was revised from its original standalone publication and that version is currently available, for the first time in standalone format, as a POD book from Fantastic Books. You should be able to order it from Amazon.

The Wrecks of Times (aka The Rituals of Infinity), The Winds of Limbo and The Shores of Death were all revised for the White Wolf The Roads Between the Worlds omnibus but not significantly to make the standalone novels versions obsolete and so they are best thought of as 'alternate' versions. That said, TRBtW omnibus does contain new linking material (featuring Renark the Wanderer from The Sundered Worlds) making it a worthwhile acquisition in its own right.

Much of the opening to The Black Corridor is repeated, pretty much verbatim, in Chapter Three of The Distant Suns. Since the latter novel followed the former in the Sailing to Utopia omnibus most of this passage was excised in the US omnibuses and the UK mass-market paperback editions. It remained intact in the UK hardcover and trade paperback editions.

The Transformation of Miss Mavis Ming (aka A Messiah at the End of Time) was revised as Constant Fire in the Legends from the End of Time omnibus. However, due to a publishing error only the revised final chapter of the novel appeared in the UK hardcover and trade paperback omnibus editions so they should be avoided in preference for the mass-market paperback edition. (Alternatively, the correct version of Constant Fire was included in the Behold the Man and Other Stories omnibus (Phoenix House, 1994) as 'compensation' in both hardcover and trade paperback editions.) In the US, Constant Fire appeared correctly in the White Wolf hardcover LftEoT omnibus but there was no trade paperback publication (due to financial reasons) and consequently that omnibus is a) scarce and b) expensive (compared to earlier WW hardcover omnibuses).

Not part of the omnibus series - though published alongside it in the UK by Phoenix - but Gloriana had a chapter significantly revised in 1993. That version was subsequently used in Gollancz's "Fantasy Masterworks" edition, although Warner Books' 2004 edition of Gloriana included both the original and revised versions of the chapter, along with an essay by Moorcock explaining why he felt compelled to revise it. Sadly the Warner's edition is OOP now but is worth tracking down if you want both versions in one cover.
Once again I find my memory is alternately faulty and right on the money, depending... which can be annoying when it comes to the memory, but I much prefer being corrected when in error, rather than perpetuating such errors... so, again, thanks for the very useful information here. (I really do need to revisit Moorcock as a whole again... it has been far too long....)

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