Tuesday, July 10, 2007

The Metatemporal Detective

This is the cover for the upcoming collection of Michael Moorcock's stories of Sir Seaton Begg, the Metatemporal Detective, posted here by permission of the artist, John Picacio. Thanks, John! The albino featured on the cover is, of course, Sir Seaton's arch enemy, Monsieur Zodiac.
Sir Seaton is often referred to as Mike's (Moorcock prefers Mike) Sherlock Holmes analog, but he is more closely modeled after another Victorian/Edwardian detective, Sexton Blake. Virtually unknown in the US, Blake was once arguably the most popular fictional detective in the UK. He appeared in literally hundreds of magazine stories and later in books, games, comics, movies, a radio program, and a television series. Blake shared many of Holmes' characteristics, right down to a Baker Street address, but he was much more a man of action, constantly getting mixed up in gun battles, fist fights, and as the series moved forward in time, car chases and the like. Blake was published right up into the 1960s when he became more of a Philip Marlowe style private eye, but his heyday was probably the early 1920s when he battled super criminals who wouldn't have been out of place in a Doc Savage novel. Blake's arch nemesis was Monsieur Zenith, an albino master criminal who favored black tie and tails. (Zenith was also a major influence in the creation of a certain albino who favors a black sword that eats people's souls.)
Seaton Begg is a part of the illustrious Begg/Bek/Von Bek family, whose members appear in various volumes of Mike's Eternal Champion saga including The Warhound and the World's Pain, The City in the Autumn Stars, The Dragon in the Sword, and in the most recent Elric trilogy which begins with The Dream Thief's Daughter.
Like Blake, Begg begins as a late Victorian detective but his adventures wander quickly off into Mike's Multiverse and he solves mysteries and fights menaces in various times and alternate realities. In fact, given the nature of the Multiverse, all the Seaton Begg stories may not be about exactly the same man, but instead about various version of Begg in various alternate dimensions and times. Thus he is the Metatemporal detective.
Likewise, all the versions of Monsieur Zodiac may or may not be the same man. A couple of them might even be Elric, who used the alias of Zodiac when he was trapped in our own reality for several centuries. See how confusing all this Multiverse stuff gets. Anyway, the book's due in October, and should contain all the various Seaton Begg short stories, plus new material from Mike. I can't wait

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