Alan Moore

Bloomsbury Publishing PLC
United Kingdom
3 January 2024


Alan Moore

In his first-ever short story collection, which spans forty years of work and features many never-before-published pieces, international bestselling author and legendary creator of From Hell, The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen and other modern classics, Alan Moore, presents nine stories full of wonder and strangeness, each taking us deeper into the fantastical underside of reality.

In A Hypothetical Lizard, two concubines in a brothel for fantastical specialists fall in love, with tragic ramifications. In Not Even Legend, a paranormal study group is infiltrated by one of the otherworldly beings they seek to investigate. In Illuminations, a nostalgic older man decides to visit a seaside resort from his youth and finds the past all too close at hand. And in the monumental novella What We Can Know About Thunderman, which charts the surreal and Kafkaesque history of the comics industry over the last seventy-five years through several sometimes-naive and sometimes-maniacal people rising and falling on its career ladders, Moore reveals the dark, beating heart of the superhero business.

From ghosts and otherworldly creatures to theoretical Boltzmann brains fashioning the universe at the big bang, Illuminations is exactly that - a series of bright, startling tales from a contemporary legend that reveal the full power of imagination and magic.


Alan Moore is the big beardy guy who gets pointed at when I’m asked, ‘Hey, who singlehandedly transformed superhero comics into dark, gritty and occasionally poetic narratives back in the 1980s?’ Moore’s re-envisioning of the genre brought superheroes’ flaws to the fore and in his hands we understood that pity, not awe, was the appropriate attitude towards these brightly costumed, invulnerable, absurd beings. In recent years, Moore has turned away from comics and focused on writing fiction and films. His first two novels, Voice of the Fire and Jerusalem, were psycho- geographic investigations of his beloved home town, Northampton, or ‘the belly button of England’ as he describes it.

Illuminations, his first collection of short stories, features tales from as far back as 1987, plus a handful of stories written during the pandemic. With most of these pieces we are in familiar Moore territory, that is to say gods and monsters at Marks and Spencer’s: slices of everyday life into which something mythic falls, pretty much always to everyone’s dismay.

But it is ‘What We Can Know About Thunderman’, the story lurking at the heart of this collection, that is its strongest, strangest, longest inhabitant: a rambling, hallucinogenic, disturbingly funny satire of the superhero comics industry from its cheap pulp mid-century origins to the multi-zillion-dollar glitz-and-glamour of its current cinematic incarnations. The writers and editors behind those original tatty paper tales of truth, justice and the American Way are presented in ‘Thunderman’ as damaged boy-men infantilised by endless fantasies of power and porn. Because it’s a Moore story, their comics get co-opted and backed by a shadowy government department keen on the superheroes’ mythic potential to manipulate mass opinion. And then, as with every tale of mystery and imagination in this collection, there’s a final reveal which makes your stomach lurch.

Alan’s back, astonishing us all over again.

Bernard Caleo is from Readings Carlton.

This item is in-stock at 8 shops and will ship in 3-4 days

Our stock data is updated periodically, and availability may change throughout the day for in-demand items. Please call the relevant shop for the most current stock information. Prices are subject to change without notice.

Sign in or become a Readings Member to add this title to a wishlist.