Monday 28 January 2013

But I Digress | The Many-Coloured Covers, or, Me and Mrs May

Whilst assembling the first edition of the British Genre Fiction Focus for, I found myself looking for something to read — a rare occasion indeed — and for various reasons, the recent reissue of The Many-Coloured Land caught my eye.

Now I've been vaguely aware of Julian May for all my adult life. Though my mum doesn't read much these days, when she did, The Saga of the Exiles was one of her favourite series. She still recalls it fondly.

But I always was one to go my own way. Even as a babe. So though I read A Wizard of Earthsea on her say-so, and adored it, and though the various other books she recommended me in my younger years were very probably responsible for my abiding speculative fiction fixation, The Many-Coloured Land lay unloved on its shelf in the study.

A couple of weeks ago, I finally righted my wrong. I read through The Many-Coloured Land in a couple of pretty serious sittings, and I see now that I should have done so years ago. But better late than never, eh?

It was nice to have a shared experience to discuss with my mum, for one. And she was a proper font of knowledge about the series when I asked her about it over the weekend.

To begin with, I didn't realise that Julian May was a woman. I don't think that fact would have altered the odds of me reading these novels then or now... all the same, I feel an utter idiot.

Whilst visiting, I also took a look at the much-loved copies of the quartet my mum has had since the early 80s. Here's a quick comparison of covers adorning those versus this recent reissue:

I know which artwork I'd rather have! Are you with me?

Then again, if The Saga of the Exiles hadn't been re-released — never mind the Game of Thrones-esque imagery — I doubt I'd have looked twice at it. As is, I'm greatly anticipating the next time I have a few days to spare, because I can't get started on The Golden Torc soon enough.

So. Lesson learned. Digression end.

Except to say: hey, are there any other massive Julian May fans out there?


  1. Love this series of books. The way it links to the Galactic Milieu works really well. Characters is great fun. Love Stein Olsen and Aiken Drum. Would happily recommend these novels to any one.

    Oh, I should point out. It was years before I discovered Julian May was female as well. You're not alone :) I also felt like a fool. A foolish fool.

  2. I've had this series on my TBR shelf for a while now, ever since I picked up the first few paperbacks in a used bookstore a long time ago. Good to hear it's worth investing the time in.

    Oh, and don't feel bad - I always assumed 'Julian' was a guy as well. :)

  3. Ah, happy days and great memories of a great series. For myself, the old covers win hands-down. I recommend picking up a copy of the Pliocene Companion as well - that clued me in as to Ms May's gender very early on.

    My volumes were passed on to my father in law, who's a sci-fi fan too; I don't think he read them, so I might filch them back again.

  4. This is a great series and one of my favorites.

  5. This was a great series. I loved how it joined Celtic mythology and SF and how the grand scheme runs along with rich characters.
    As for the covers... they're a no-go for me.

  6. Once you have read those books, the Milieu series ties in very well, and is also quite good.
    Jack the Bodiless
    Diamond Mask

  7. Yes, I hope they reissue the other books too. (Or have they done so without me realising it?)
    All of mine, despite plastic wrapping, are a little tatty from over-reading.
    Don't like the new covers though.