Wednesday, February 23, 2011

The Jade Man's Eyes

Got hold of a nifty little collectible this week, a copy of the 1973 chapbook The Jade Man's Eyes by Michael Moorcock. It's something I've been trying to get a good copy of for a while. It has the dimensions of a paperback book, but it only has about 50 pages so it's a very lightweight booklet. It has a cover by long time Moorcock friend and collaborator Jim Cawthorn, and get this, it's printed with green ink on the interior. It was originally published by the Unicorn Bookshop in Brighton UK in 1973, though the story may have been written as early as 1966. A bunch of us were asking Moorcock about it over at his forum and he said he couldn't remember exactly when he wrote it. Mike said that he might have written it for Ken Bulmer's aborted magazine Sword & Sorcery.
I pointed out that the story was also published in 1973 in Lin Carter's Anthology Flashing Swords Volume 2. Whenever it was written, Mike thinks he might have let Unicorn Bookshop owner Bill Butler have it first to get his small press established. Then it went to Carter for Flashing Swords.
To make things more confusing, when DAW books began issuing new Elric Books, Mike did a rewrite of Jade Man's Eyes, changing it to the third part of The Sailor on the Seas of Fate, Sailing to the Past. The story was changed considerably, especially in the first section and Elric's sidekick Moonglum was changed to a different character. Having read both, I prefer the Jade Man's Eyes version. At some point I'll try to do a post breaking down all that was changed between the two stories.
From a collector's viewpoint, I was glad to get a nice copy of the booklet. The listing on Amazon had the book's condition as "like new" and I'll admit I was a little dubious, but when I got it, the book did indeed look as if I'd purchased it from the Unicorn Bookshop back in 1973. Good price too.
Another odd note, comic book writer and novelist Neil Gaiman mentioned The Jade Man's Eyes in his short story 'One Life Furnished in Early Moorcock', and noted that the print was in green ink. I thought he made that part up. heh.

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