Warlord of the Air

Review by C.J. Bunce

It’s been 41 years since Michael Moorcock first published The Warlord of the Air, the first novel in his Nomad of the Time Streams series following Edwardian British Army Captain Oswald Bastable as he becomes unstuck in different timelines in the 20th century.  It has all the elements of steampunk, despite being written more than 15 years before the term came into common meaning, including a focus on airships being the preferred form of transportation in the novel’s alternate 1973, as well as technologies and events that did or did not occur in our own timeline.

Moorcock serves to pull the reader into the story through the device of finding writings from his own grandfather, also named Michael Moorcock, in which his grandfather personally encountered Captain Bastable on a small island in the Indian Ocean in 1903.  Bastable has been unceremoniously ousted from a steam-powered, seafaring vessel and appears disoriented to the narrator so he takes him into his house and learns of the story recounted to the reader as the bulk of the novel.

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