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Michael Moorcock

From Academic Kids

Michael John Moorcock (born December 18, 1939) is a prolific British writer of both science fiction and science fantasy. He has also published a number of literary novels. He became editor of Tarzan Adventures in 1956, at only sixteen, later moving on to edit Sexton Blake Library. As editor of the controversial British science fiction magazine New Worlds, from May 1964 until March 1971 and then again from 1976 to 1996, Moorcock fostered the development of the New Wave in the UK and indirectly in the U.S. His serialisation of Norman Spinrad's Bug Jack Barron was notorious for causing British MPs to condemn in Parliament the Arts Council's funding of the magazine.

During this time, he occasionally wrote under the pseudonym of "James Colvin", a 'house pseudonym' used by other critics on New Worlds. A spoof obituary of Colvin later appeared in New Worlds. Later Breakfast in the Ruins, a literary novel, included an introduction that mentioned Moorcock's early death. Some readers believed it. Moorcock, indeed, makes much use of the initials 'JC', and not entirely coincidentally these are also the initials of Jesus Christ, the subject of his 1967 novella Behold the Man.

This work, first published in New Worlds as a novella, tells the story of Karl Glogauer, a time-traveller who takes on the role of Christ. It won the Nebula award for the best novella of 1967.

Contents

Works

His work is complex and multilayered. Central to many of his fantasy novels is the concept of an "Eternal Champion", who has potentially multiple identities across multiple dimensions. This cosmogony is called the "Multiverse" within his novels. The "Eternal Champion" is engaged in a constant struggle with not only conventional notions of good and evil, but also in the struggle for balance between law and chaos. Thus the criticism of metanarratives common in post-modern critical theory finds its expression in a form widely read and understood at a variety of levels.

Moorcock's most popular works by far have been the Elric novels, starring the character Elric of Melnibon. Moorcock wrote the first Elric stories as a deliberate reversal of the cliches common in Tolkien-inspired fantasy adventure novels (which he despised) as well as the work of Robert E. Howard. The popularity of Elric has overshadowed his many other works, though he has worked a number of the themes of the Elric stories into his other works (the "Hawkmoon" and "Corum" novels, for example).

One of Moorcock's popular creations was Jerry Cornelius (another JC), a kind of hip secret agent of ambiguous sexuality; the same characters featured in each of several Cornelius books. These books were most obviously satirical of modern times, including the Vietnam War, and continue to feature as another variation of the Multiverse theme. The first Jerry Cornelius book, The Final Programme was made into a feature film.

Since the 1980s, Moorcock has tended to write literary 'mainstream' novels, such as Mother London and Byzantium Endures, which have had positive reviews, but continues to revisit characters from his earlier works, like Elric, with books like The Dreamthief's Daughter or The Skrayling Tree. With the writing of the third and last book in this trilogy, The White Wolf's Son (due 2005), he announced that he was 'retiring' from writing heroic fantasy fiction, though he continues to write Elric's adventures as graphic novels with his long-time collaborator Walter Simonson. He has also announced the completion of his 'Colonel Pyat' sequence, dealing with the Nazi Holocaust, which began with Byzantium Endures, continued through The Laughter of Carthage and Jerusalem Commands and ends with The Vengeance of Rome (due 2005).

Although Moorcock is mostly known for the books mentioned above, he also wrote several novels and novellas which are staged on Earth in some million years at the End of Time. The strange characters inhabiting this world, The Dancers at the End of Time, may seem weird at first, but Moorcock's language and storytelling manage to capture the reader after some pages. Not really fantasy (or dark fantasy, as his writing style has been called by many), these stories are an example for the mastery with which the author handles science fiction, fantasy and classical fiction. His novel Gloriana, while an alternative world story is not strictly a fantasy but won the John W. Campbell Award in 1978 and the World Fantasy Award in 1979. Other novels have won the British Fantasy Award, August Derleth Award. He received The Guardian Fiction Prize for The Condition of Muzak, the last volume in the first Jerry Cornelius sequence, in 1977. He received a Lifetime Achievement Award, the Prix Utopiales, in Nantes, France, in 2004.

Musical interests

He has also collaborated with the British rock band Hawkwind on many occasions: the Hawkwind track "The Black Corridor", for example, included verbatim quotes from Moorcock's novel of the same name, and he also worked with the band on their album Warrior on the Edge of Time. An album The New Worlds Fair by "Michael Moorcock and the Deep Fix" was released in 1975, which included a number of Hawkwind regulars in the credits. A second version of the album "Roller Coaster Holiday" was issued in 2004.("The Deep Fix" was the title story of an obscure collection of short stories by "James Colvin" published in the 1960s). Moorcock wrote the lyrics to three album tracks by the American band Blue yster Cult: "Black Blade", referring to the sword Stormbringer in the Elric books, "Veteran Of The Psychic Wars", showing us Elric's emotions at a critical point of his story (this song may also refer to the "Warriors at the Edge of Time", which figure heavily in Moorcock's novels about John Daker; at one point his novel "The Dragon in the Sword" they call themselves the "veterans of a thousand psychic wars"), and "The Great Sun Jester", about his friend, the poet Bill Butler, who died of a drug overdose. Moorcock has even performed live with BC (in 1987 at the Atlanta, GA Dragon Con Convention) and Hawkwind. His Eternal Champion sequence has been collected in two different editions of omnibus volumes comprising fifteen books containing several books per volume, by Victor Gollancz in the UK and by White Wolf Publishing in the US.

Views on other writers

Moorcock is a fervent supporter of the works of Mervyn Peake, and an almost equally fervent detractor of the works of J. R. R. Tolkien. He met both Tolkien and C. S. Lewis in his teens, and claims to have liked them personally even though he does not admire them on artistic grounds.

Some critics have accused Moorcock of condemning Tolkien for not writing like Peake, which if true would be like condemning apples for not being oranges. Moorcock is not known to have compared both writers in this way. Instead, he criticises works like The Lord of the Rings for their Merry England point of view, famously equating Tolkien's trilogy to Winnie-the-Pooh in his essay "Epic Pooh" [1] (http://www.revolutionsf.com/article.html?id=953). The essay appears in his study of epic fantasy Wizardry & Wild Romance, which was revised and reissued by MonkeyBrain Books in 2004.

Sharing fictional universes with others

Moorcock has allowed a number of other writers to create stories in his fictional Jerry Cornelius universe. Brian Aldiss, M. John Harrison, Norman Spinrad and James Sallis, among others, have written such stories. In an interview published in The Internet Review of Science Fiction, Moorcock explains the reason for sharing his character:

I came out of popular fiction and Jerry was always meant to be a sort of crystal ball for others to see their own visions in — the stories were designed to work like that — a diving board, to use another analogy, from which to jump into the river and be carried along by it. [...] All of these have tended to use Jerry the way I intended to use him — as a way of seeing modern life and sometimes as a way of commenting on it. Jerry, as Harrison said, was as much a method as a character and I'm glad that others have taken to using that method. [2] (http://www.irosf.com/q/zine/article/10115)

He is also a friend and fan of comics writer Alan Moore, and allowed Moore the use of several of his own copyrighted characters in Moore's The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen.

In 2000 Moorcock collaborated on a standalone novel, Silverheart, with Storm Constantine. The story is set in Karadur-Shriltasi, a city at the heart of the Multiverse.

Biographical

In 1997, Moorcock was one of the guests of honor at the Worldcon in San Antonio, Texas and as Guest of Honour at the World Fantasy Convention in Corpus Christie, Texas (2000) received a 'Howie' World Fantasy Award for Lifetime Achievement. In 2002 he was inducted into the Science Fiction Hall of Fame.

In the 1990s, Moorcock moved to Texas in the United States. In 2004, he announced plans to move back to Europe, probably eventually settling in France and Spain.

Recommended books

  • Behold the Man
  • The Black Corridor
  • Legends from the End of Time
  • Dancers at the End of Time
  • Gloriana
  • King of the City
  • Mother London
  • My Experiences in the Third World War
  • The Between the Wars sequence:
    • Byzantium Endures
    • The Laughter of Carthage
    • Jerusalem Commands
    • The Vengeance of Rome (Fall 2005)
  • The Elric sequence and other Eternal Champion books
  • The Jerry Cornelius quartet of novels and shorter fiction:
    • The Final Programme
    • A Cure for Cancer
    • The English Assassin
    • The Condition of Muzak
    • The Adventures of Una Persson and Catherine Cornelius in the 20th Century""
    • The Entropy Tango
    • The Alchemist's Question
    • The Lives and Times of Jerry Cornelius
    • Firing the Cathedral (novella)
  • The Von Bek sequence:

External links

General

Nonfiction

  • "Epic Pooh" (http://www.revolutionsf.com/article.html?id=953), by Michael Moorcock

Interviews

de:Michael Moorcock es:Michael Moorcock fr:Michael Moorcock ja:マイケル・ムアコック pl:Michael Moorcock fi:Michael Moorcock th:ไมเคิล มัวร์ค็อก he:מייקל מורקוק

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