A Nomad of the Time Streams

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A Nomad of the Time Streams
Dust-jacket from the first edition.
AuthorMichael Moorcock
Original titleThe Nomad of Time
Cover artistFred Labitzke
CountryUnited States
GenreScience fiction
PublisherScience Fiction Book Club
Publication date
Media typePrint (hardback)

A Nomad of the Time Streams[1] is a compilation volume of Michael Moorcock's early steampunk trilogy, begun in 1971 with The Warlord of the Air and continued by its 1974 and 1981 sequels, The Land Leviathan and The Steel Tsar.[2] The trilogy follows the adventures of Edwardian-era British Army Captain Oswald Bastable in alternate versions of the 20th century.


The Warlord of the Air[edit]

In the first book, The Warlord of the Air, Bastable finds himself transported to an alternate late-20th century Earth where the European powers did not stir each other into a World War and in which the mighty airships of a British Empire on which the sun never sets are threatened by the rise of new and terrible enemies. These enemies turn out to be the colonized peoples trying to break free, supported by anarchist and socialist Western saboteurs opposing their own imperialist societies, and led by a Chinese general whose country is still nominally under Western control and ravaged by civil war.

The Land Leviathan[edit]

In The Land Leviathan, Bastable visits an alternate 1904 in which most of the Western world has been devastated around the turn of the 20th century by a short, yet terrible war fought with futuristic devices and in which also biological weapons were used. In this alternate world, an Afro-American "Black Attila" is conquering the remnants of the Western nations, destroyed by the wars. The only remaining stable surviving nations, aside from the African-based Ashanti Empire, are an isolationist Australasian-Japanese Federation, which opposes the Ashanti Empire, and the wealthy Marxist Republic of Bantustan, formerly known as South Africa which is led by its Indian-born president Mahatma Gandhi; having never known apartheid or hostilities between the British and the Boers, it is a wealthy, pacifist utopia, in which there is no racial tension.

The Steel Tsar[edit]

In the final book, The Steel Tsar, Bastable witnesses an alternate 1941 where Great Britain and Germany became allies around the turn of the 20th century and thus neither the War of 1914 nor the October Revolution took place. In this world's Russian Empire, a much more stable and democratic nation than the real Russia has ever been, Bastable encounters a terrorist group which seeks to overthrow the Russian government and install a theocracy led by the religious fanatic Iosif Vissarionovich Dzhugashvili.

Style and themes[edit]

In an ironic to postmodernist framework yet strictly writing in the language of a 19th-century adventure romance, Moorcock explores themes of racism, imperialism, socialist and anarchist politics, and the impact of technology in the nascent steampunk genre which this trilogy did much to help develop.[3]


Publication history[edit]

The omnibus edition was first published in 1982 by the Science Fiction Book Club as The Nomad of Time. It appeared under the title A Nomad of the Time Streams in editions by Millennium in 1992 and by White Wolf, Inc. in 1995. Portions of the series were significantly rewritten for the 1992 edition. Golancz published it as The Nomad of Time in 2014.

Further reading[edit]

  • "Internet Speculative Fiction Database". Retrieved 13 December 2007.
  • Brown, Charles N.; William G. Contento. "The Locus Index to Science Fiction (2003)". Retrieved 13 December 2007.
  • Contento, William G. "Index to Science Fiction Anthologies and Collections, Combined Edition". Archived from the original on 22 December 2007. Retrieved 13 December 2007.


  1. ^ "Xenagia SF, Fantasy & Horror Book Index: A Nomad of the Time Streams". Archived from the original on 29 December 2007. Retrieved 3 December 2007.
  2. ^ reserved, the complete review - all rights. "A Nomad of the Time Streams - Michael Moorcock". www.complete-review.com.
  3. ^ Bebergal, Peter (26 August 2007). "The age of steampunk". The Boston Globe. Archived from the original on 14 April 2008. Retrieved 10 May 2008.