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The Golden Barge

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  • The Golden Barge

    Mike I've always been intrigued by how much revision went into this book before publication. In the introduction you say that it underwent only minor revision, but the literary style seems a good deal more sophisticated than other work you were producing around the same time (that appeared in the Sojan paperback for example). The first paragraph has always struck me as an excellent example of scene-setting, suggestive and descriptive and a great way to start a book.

    But there does seem a real disparity between some of the material produced around this time, Sojan (simple), The Golden Barge, the short stories Peace On Earth and The Lovebeast (more sophisticated).

    On the other hand, it's possible to point to the same thing a few years later, with the Kane books being produced at the time you were doing The Final Programme or The Hawkmoon books and Behold The Man etc. Were you conscious of applying different styles to different work?

    Were you ever tempted to try and get The Golden Barge published by Compact, since you included an extract in New Worlds and later in The Time Dweller?
    'You know, I can't keep up with you. If I hadn't met you in person, I quite honestly would NOT believe you really existed. I just COULDN'T. You do so MUCH... if half of what goes into your zines is to be believed, you've read more at the age of 17 than I have at the age of 32 - LOTS more'

    Archie Mercer to Mike (Burroughsania letters page, 1957)

  • #2
    I think I answered most of this by accident over on the Group 65
    thread. Minor revision, as on most of my books. Which is some corrections made onto the first draft in ink. I didn't think The Golden Barge worth reprinting in whole until Mike Butterworth and Dave Britton came across it and asked to do it as a Savoy publication. I said if they felt like it, fair enough. They did and that's how it saw the light of day.
    As with the Bradbury books, I was surprised by the number of editions (including foreign editions) which it went in to. Clearly, I'm no judge of my own work!

    Pre-order or Buy my latest titles in Europe:
    The Whispering Swarm: Book One of the Sanctuary of the White Friars - The Laughter of Carthage - Byzantium Endures - London Peculiar and Other Nonfiction
    Doctor Who: The Coming of the Terraphiles - Kizuna: Fiction for Japan - Modem Times 2.0 - The Sunday Books - The Sundered Worlds


    Pre-order or Buy my latest titles in the USA:
    The Laughter of Carthage - Byzantium Endures - London Peculiar and Other Nonfiction - The Sunday Books - Doctor Who: The Coming of the Terraphiles
    Kizuna: Fiction for Japan - The Sundered Worlds - The Winds of Limbo - Modem Times 2.0 - Elric: Swords and Roses

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    • #3
      All this talk of The Golden Barge made me want to sit down and read it again - I'm about a third of the way through so far. For anyone who hasn't read it I'd recommend it as a worthwhile title. Personally I'm surprised it took twenty years to see print, it's actually very good. Obviously influnced by Peake as you say and also as you say a simple allegory but full of interesting colour and characters.

      Do I detect in Tallow's mother an embryonic Mrs. Cornelius? Also I noticed in the short story version Miranda was called Pandora - was that her original name?
      'You know, I can't keep up with you. If I hadn't met you in person, I quite honestly would NOT believe you really existed. I just COULDN'T. You do so MUCH... if half of what goes into your zines is to be believed, you've read more at the age of 17 than I have at the age of 32 - LOTS more'

      Archie Mercer to Mike (Burroughsania letters page, 1957)

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      • #5
        I remembered that story and wondered if it was something to do with that. Mind you, not so long ago when I was reading some of Bloch's stories in chronological order I found that he'd named three female characters 'Marie' in three separate stories published around the same time (although in different magazines). He must have been short on name inspiration at the time...
        'You know, I can't keep up with you. If I hadn't met you in person, I quite honestly would NOT believe you really existed. I just COULDN'T. You do so MUCH... if half of what goes into your zines is to be believed, you've read more at the age of 17 than I have at the age of 32 - LOTS more'

        Archie Mercer to Mike (Burroughsania letters page, 1957)

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        • #6
          Having finished The Golden Barge, I was quite surprised by the bleakness of the book towards the end. The Golden Barge idea was used again, to an extent, a few years later with the Dead God's Book in the Elric story While The Gods Laugh and the book has a city called 'Melibone' and a character with the surname Slorm (were these in the original text?).

          Tallow is similar to the early Elric - unusual looks, similar motivations and he seems similarly doomed by Fate. These appear to have been preoccupations at the time...
          'You know, I can't keep up with you. If I hadn't met you in person, I quite honestly would NOT believe you really existed. I just COULDN'T. You do so MUCH... if half of what goes into your zines is to be believed, you've read more at the age of 17 than I have at the age of 32 - LOTS more'

          Archie Mercer to Mike (Burroughsania letters page, 1957)

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          • #7
            Probably 'cos everyone was expecting a nasty old Soviet SS-11 on the bonce at any minute! At the time a seemingly inevitable doom. The current literary 'phobias' are terrorism and abduction: Witches and Black Magic one minute, then Commies and Nukes; Al Qaeda and paedophiles the next. We always need a model of implacable evil fate, preferably with a nice identifiable face to personify it!

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            • #8
              Possibly, but digging in my library yesterday I came across the non fictional pieces on Elric in the original Savoy Sojan paperback which I haven't looked at for some time. One of these The Secret Life Of Elric of Melnibone appeared again in the mass market paperback of Elric At The End Of Time, but another short piece on the early Elric stories was omitted for some reason, along with a couple of non-Sojan juvenile stories.

              The Secret Life is by far the most interesting and gives some info on The Golden Barge and how it influenced Elric and how Elric developed in 1960-61. It's interesting that Mike was only referring back about three or four years at the time (it was written in 1964) but it sounds like he's talking about a different person, which he acknowledges in the piece. He mentions that he felt an outcast, was drinking heavily; in the other article he describes himself as 'a faltering atheist' and talks about fear of death as an inspiration in Elric ('I don't believe in life after death and I don't want to die. I hope I shan't. Maybe I'll be the exception which proves the rule...')

              Fascinating stuff, a shame the other item never made it into Elric At The End Of Time. Not sure how Mike himself feels now, having all this early stuff still being brought up forty years later. If it seemed a long time ago in 1964, what does it feel like now? 8O
              'You know, I can't keep up with you. If I hadn't met you in person, I quite honestly would NOT believe you really existed. I just COULDN'T. You do so MUCH... if half of what goes into your zines is to be believed, you've read more at the age of 17 than I have at the age of 32 - LOTS more'

              Archie Mercer to Mike (Burroughsania letters page, 1957)

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              • #9
                I'm not much given to going back over old stuff and generally pieces go into books because other people have dug them up (as with the Savoy edition of Sojan -- Savoy are great at digging things up!). Savoy are planning to do a bumper book of old stuff edited by John Davey and they've sent me one or two pieces which I don't even remember writing.
                I suspect it would be good for me to look at that material now, however, since I'm writing the memoir on Mervyn and Maeve Peake and it's helpful to recall stuff in the context of what I was writing, how I was thinking, at the time. What amazes me is 1) How my memory of events becomes distorted and 2) How consistent I've been in my enthusiasms and interests -- so that at one moment I'm thinking 'You're a bloody liar, Moorcock!' and the next I'm thinking 'You've a pretty accurate memory, Moorcock!' If I had a file of the fanzines as well as the early work, it would be easier, of course. I'm checking my own memories of Mervyn and Maeve with the Peakes and we all appear to remember things much the same, so that's a relief. I do think, though, I'd better have a look at those pieces in Sojan!

                Pre-order or Buy my latest titles in Europe:
                The Whispering Swarm: Book One of the Sanctuary of the White Friars - The Laughter of Carthage - Byzantium Endures - London Peculiar and Other Nonfiction
                Doctor Who: The Coming of the Terraphiles - Kizuna: Fiction for Japan - Modem Times 2.0 - The Sunday Books - The Sundered Worlds


                Pre-order or Buy my latest titles in the USA:
                The Laughter of Carthage - Byzantium Endures - London Peculiar and Other Nonfiction - The Sunday Books - Doctor Who: The Coming of the Terraphiles
                Kizuna: Fiction for Japan - The Sundered Worlds - The Winds of Limbo - Modem Times 2.0 - Elric: Swords and Roses

                Comment

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