An innovative and prolific fantasy writer, Moorcock (Mother London, etc.) connects eight of his recent short stories with brief narrative scenes to create the second book in the series that began with last year's Blood and that will conclude later this year with War Amongst the Angels. Although each story can stand alone, and in fact they did when originally published in various anthologies and other sources, here they form a mosaic of Moorcock's intricate and ever-expanding ""multiverse"" and offer clear proof of his skill as a stylist. ""The Black Blade's Summoning"" finds wily Captain Horace Quelch teamed with Elric of Melnibone in an attempt to save Xanardwys, the land of eternal summer. ""The Affair of the Seven Virgins"" is a wry send-up of Conan Doyle, with the urbane, Holmes-like Sexton Begg called on to assist a mysterious albino lord. ""The Girl Who Killed Sylvia Blade"" is a noir crime story Mickey Spillane would admire, while ""No Ordinary Christian"" employs a Saharan setting to tell a tale of love and vengeance. Readers unfamiliar with Moorcock's ambitious multiverse characters may come away with some justifiable confusion, but his many fans will be amused as well as entertained by having all these stories together in one place. (Feb.) FYI: In his nearly four decades of writing, Moorcock has won a World Fantasy Award, a Nebula Award and a John W. Campbell Award.