The Land Leviathan (Oswald Bastable #2) (1974)

by Michael Moorcock



Michael Moorcock's meditation on racism and nationalism is obvious and dull.

 

Michael Moorcock


His hero, the dimension-hopping Oswald Bastable, finds himself on an earth where technological advance has unleashed man's basest, most aggressive tendencies, leading to total war on a worldwide scale.

 


The author has plenty of opinions but does not present them in a coherent storyline.

 


A few historical personages appear, such as Gandhi as the president of a pacifist country, but they are not used in a way that provides any insight into their characters beyond what everyone already knows (i.e., Gandhi was a pacifist). 



White authors court disaster when they adopt the point of view of a black character whose defining characteristic is all-consuming rage, as Moorcock demonstrates by creating the Black Attila, who crusades to make the earth safe for his people.

 


However, I think Moorcock's heart was in the right place.  



Finally, he has the bad habit of setting up a "mysterious situation" whose explanation should be as painfully obvious to his protagonist as it is to the reader.

 

"Leviathan on Earth" (Finnish)


Yet he writes as if nobody can guess what he has planned.

 

"The Terrestrial Leviathan" (Romanian)


For example, during Attila's invasion of America with his irresistible weapons, the evil racists put black prisoners into cages that are mounted atop the walls that encircle their position. 


"The Land Leviathan" (German)


What on earth, we are expected to wonder, could they have been placed there for? Then, when it is revealed by our suitably shocked narrator that they are to be used as a human shield, we are expected to be surprised. I know that Moorcock is capable of crafting a good story, but this isn't one of them.

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