Somnium by Steve Moore
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Oct. 12th, 2011 | 01:55 pm
In November Strange Attractor Press, in association with Somnium Press, are publishing Somnium, a novel by Steve Moore, which comes with a long afterword by Alan Moore.
It’s a 288-page A5 hardback, with a cover by John Coulthart and a frontispiece by Steve Moore himself. It will be available in two editions, the standard book at £20, and an edition of 250 numbered books, signed by both Steve and Alan, which will cost £30. And they’re taking orders now, here, which will be shipped in the first week of November. This hardcover, in either edition, is only available from the nice people at Strange Attractor Press, to the very best of my knowledge.
There's a bit more about this further down, but first here's the cover, by the ridiculously talented John Coulthart:-
Right, that’s the commercial side of this post taken care of. The question is, why am I writing this piece on a blog dedicated to the work of Alan Moore? There are a number of reasons.
First of all, Steve Moore is Alan Moore’s closest friend. They’ve known one another since they met in the early days of British comics’ fandom, back in the 1970s, when Alan was about fourteen, and Steve about seventeen. He’s also said to be the person who taught Alan how to write comics. On top of that, they have also been magical partners for a long time. In both cases, Steve was the Teacher, and Alan the Neophyte. (Here’s the pair of them writing, not entirely seriously, as The Moon and Serpent Grant Egyptian Theatre of Marvels.) If there is one person on this Earth that Alan Moore looks up to, it’s Steve Moore. Which is very nearly a good enough reason for buying this book in itself. If Alan likes it, that’s good enough for me.
Here’s another reason:- For Iain Sinclair’s 2006 anthology London: City of Disappearances, Alan wrote a long piece called Unearthing, which is essentially a psychogeographical biography of Steve, and in it Alan refers to the novel that Steve is writing, which is Somnium. So, you could look at this book as a companion-piece to Unearthing - although more correctly it’s the other way around, I suppose, as a novel trumps an essay. In any case, each one illuminates the other.
Perhaps the most important reason that I think this book deserves to be mentioned, though, is simply for its own sake. Steve Moore has a huge body of work of all kinds behind him, in fields as diverse as comics, Fortean research, and Asian studies. In 1989 I read a two-page article in Atomeka Press’s A1 #2 about Fortean Times which lead me to something that became an important part of my life. Much later, I found out that Steve Moore wrote that article. I’ve read lots of other things I know he wrote, and probably a lot more I don’t even know about. Somnium is said to be his first novel, but that’s not entirely true. He wrote the novelisation of the movie of V for Vendetta, an intriguing piece of work that takes place about half way between the film and the graphic novel (and which I mention in this review of the film version of V, for which I got to do a mini interview with him). If you see it, buy it, and you won’t be disappointed.
Somnium is not the first publication from Somnium Press, either. In 2004 they published Technical Vocabularies: Games for May, a collection of poetry by Alan and Steve, in a very limited edition of 101 signed and numbered copies. I’ve got a copy of it around here somewhere...
So, I’m very keen to get this book. I’ve only the vaguest idea what it’s about – the press release says this:-
A jewelled whirlpool of a tale, Somnium is a richly poetic pagan fantasy, a narrative of shifting levels presented in a dazzling array of styles, ranging from that of the mediæval romance through Elizabethan tragedy to the Gothic novel and the sublime madness of the Decadents.
With its delirious and heartbroken text spiralling out from the classical myth of Endymion and the Greek lunar goddess Selene, Somnium is an extraordinary odyssey through love and loss and lunacy, illuminated by the silvery moonlight of its exquisite language.
... but I don’t think it really matters what it’s about. One way or the other, I things it’s going to be a good book, and an important book.