33 minute read

Michael Moorcock (1939–) Biography

Personal, Addresses, Career, Member, Honors Awards, Writings, Adaptations, Sidelights

(Bill Barclay, William Ewert Barclay, Michael Barrington, a joint pseudonym, Edward P. Bradbury, James Colvin, Philip James, a joint pseudonym, Michael John Moorcock, Desmond Reid, a house pseudonym)


Born 1939, in Mitcham, Surrey, England; Education: Attended ten schools, including Michael Hall School, Sussex, and Pitman's College. Hobbies and other interests: Songwriting, performing in rock and roll bands.


Agent—c/o Howard Moreham, HML, 841 Broadway, New York, NY 10003.


Writer and editor; has also worked as a singer/guitarist. Editor, Tarzan Adventures (juvenile magazine), 1956–58; Amalgamated Press, London, England, writer and editor for Sexton Blake Library and for comic strips and children's annuals, 1959–61; pamphleteer and editor, Liberal Party, 1962; New Worlds (science-fiction magazine), London, England, editor and publisher, 1964–70. Leader of rock band Michael Moorcock and the Deep Fix; also worked with bands Hawkwind and Blue Oyster Cult. Military service: Served in British Air Training Corps.


Authors Guild, Fawcett Society, National Socialist Party for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (council member), Royal Overseas League, SPLC (leadership council), Shelter.

Honors Awards

Nebula Award, Science Fiction Writers of America, 1967, for Behold the Man; British Science Fiction Association Award, and Arts Council of Great Britain Award, both 1967, both for New Worlds; August Derleth Award, British Fantasy Society, 1972, for The Knight of the Swords, 1973, for The King of the Swords, 1974, for The Jade Man's Eyes, 1975, for The Sword and the Stallion, and 1976, for The Hollow Lands; International Fantasy Award, 1972, 1973, for fantasy novels; Guardian Fiction Prize, 1977, for The Condition of Muzak; John W. Campbell Memorial Award, 1978, and World Fantasy Award, World Fantasy Convention, 1979, both for Gloriana; or, The Unfulfilled Queen; Booker Prize nomination, for Mother London; Whitbread Award nomination, for King of the City.

Michael Moorcock


(With James Cawthorn, under house pseudonym Desmond Reid) Caribbean Crisis, Sexton Blake Library (London, England), 1962.

The Sundered Worlds, Compact Books (London, England), 1965, Paperback Library (New York, NY), 1966, published as The Blood Red Game, Sphere Books (London, England), 1970.

The Fireclown, Compact Books (London, England), 1965, Paperback Library (New York, NY), 1966, published as The Winds of Limbo, Sphere Books (London, England), 1970.

(Under pseudonym James Colvin) The Deep Fix, Compact Books (London, England), 1966.

The Wrecks of Time (bound with Tramontane by Emil Petaja), Ace (New York, NY), 1966, revised edition published separately as The Rituals of Infinity, Arrow Books (London, England), 1971.

The Twilight Man, Compact Books (London, England), 1966, Berkley Publishing (New York, NY), 1970, published as The Shores of Death, Sphere Books (London, England), 1970.

(Under pseudonym Bill Barclay) Printer's Devil, Compact Books (London, England), 1966, published under name Michael Moorcock as The Russian Intelligence, Savoy Books (Manchester, England), 1980.

(Under pseudonym Bill Barclay) Somewhere in the Night, Compact Books (London, England), 1966, revised edition published under name Michael Moorcock as The Chinese Agent, Macmillan (New York, NY), 1970.

(Co-author) Roger Harris, The LSD Dossier, Compact Books (London, England), 1966.

The Ice Schooner, Sphere Books (London, England), 1968, Berkley Publishing (New York, NY), 1969, revised edition, Harrap (Edinburgh, Scotland), 1985.

(With wife, Hilary Bailey) The Black Corridor, Ace (New York, NY), 1969.

The Time Dweller, Hart-Davis (London, England), 1969, Berkley Publishing (New York, NY), 1971.

(With James Cawthorn under joint pseudonym Philip James) The Distant Suns, Unicorn Bookshop (Brighton, England), 1975.

Moorcock's Book of Martyrs, Quartet Books (London, England), 1976, published as Dying for Tomorrow, DAW (New York, NY), 1978.

(With Michael Butterworth) The Time of the Hawklords, A. Ellis (Henley-on-Thames, England), 1976.

Sojan (juvenile), Savoy Books (Manchester, England), 1977.

Epic Pooh, British Fantasy Society, 1978.

Gloriana; or, The Unfulfilled Queen, Allison & Busby (London, England), 1978, Avon (New York, NY), 1979, reprinted, Aspect (New York, NY), 2004.

The Real Life of Mr. Newman, A.J. Callow, 1979.

The Golden Barge, DAW (New York, NY), 1980.

My Experiences in the Third World War, Savoy Books (Manchester, England), 1980.

The Retreat from Liberty: The Erosion of Democracy in Today's Britain, Zomba (London, England), 1983.

(With others) Exploring Fantasy Worlds: Essays on Fantastic Literature, edited by Darrell Schweitzer, Borgo Press (Rockville, MD), 1985.

Letters from Hollywood, Harrap (Edinburgh, Scotland), 1986.

(With James Cawthorn) Fantasy: The One Hundred Best Books, Carroll & Graf (New York, NY), 1988.

Mother London, Crown (New York, NY), 1989.

Wizardry and Wild Romance: A Study of Heroic Fantasy, Gollancz (London, England), 1989.

Casablanca, Gollancz (London, England), 1989.

Earl Aubec, and Other Stories, Millennium (London, England), 1993.

(Author of introduction) H.G. Wells, The Time Machine J.M. Dent (London, England), 1993.

Hawkmoon, White Wolf (Stone Mountain, GA), 1995.

(With Storm Constantine) Silverheart ("Eternal Champion" series), Simon & Schuster (New York, NY), 2000.

Blitz Kid (graphic novel), art by Walter Simonson and Bob Wiacek, DC Comics (New York, NY), 2001.

King of the City, William Morrow (New York, NY), 2000.

London Bone (short stories), Scribner (London, England), 2001.

(Author of afterword) Norman Spinrad, Bug Jack Barron, Overlook (Woodstock, NY), 2004.

Contributor, sometimes under pseudonyms, to Punch, Ambit, London Times, London Guardian, New Statesman, London Daily Telegraph, and other publications. Writer of comic strips for DC Comics and Dark Horse Comics, 1957–64, and with Michael Moorcock's Multiverse, DC Comics, 1997. Credited with providing ideas for books by Michael Butterworth, Queens of Deliria and The Time of the Hawklords, Collectors Guides, 1995.


The Stealer of Souls, and Other Stories (also see below), Neville Spearman (London, England), 1963, Lancer Books (New York, NY), 1967.

Stormbringer, Jenkins, 1965, Lancer Books (New York, NY), 1967.

The Singing Citadel (also see below), Berkley Publishing (New York, NY), 1970.

The Sleeping Sorceress, New English Library (London, England), 1971, Lancer Books (New York, NY), 1972, published as The Vanishing Tower, DAW (New York, NY), 1977.

The Dreaming City, Lancer Books (New York, NY), 1972, published as Elric of Melnibone, Hutchinson (London, England), 1972.

The Jade Man's Eyes, Unicorn Bookshop (Brighton, England), 1973.

Elric: The Return to Melnibone, Unicorn Bookshop (Brighton, England), 1973, published in graphic-novel format, Jayde Design (London, England), 1997, novel reprinted, Gollancz (London, England) 2001.

The Sailor on the Seas of Fate, DAW (New York, NY), 1976.

The Bane of the Black Sword, DAW (New York, NY), 1977.

The Weird of the White Wolf (contains some material from The Stealer of Souls, and Other Stories and The Singing Citadel), DAW (New York, NY), 1977.

Elric at the End of Time, DAW (New York, NY), 1985.

The Fortress of the Pearl, Ace (New York, NY), 1989.

The Revenge of the Rose, Ace (New York, NY), 1991.

Stormbringer (contains The Sleeping Sorceress, The Revenge of the Rose, The Stealer of Souls and Other Stories, Kings in Darkness, and The Caravan of Forgotten Dreams), Orion (London, England), 1997.

The Dreamthief's Daughter, Earthlight (London, England), 2001, published as The Dreamthief's Daughter: A Tale of the Albino, Warner (New York, NY), 2001.

The Skrayling Tree: The Albino in America, Warner (New York, NY), 2003.

The White Wolf's Son: The Albino Underground, Warner (New York, NY), 2005.


Warriors of Mars (also see below), Compact Books (London, England), 1965, published under name Michael Moorcock as The City of the Beast, Lancer Books (New York, NY), 1970.

Blades of Mars (also see below), Compact Books (London, England), 1965, published under name Michael Moorcock as The Lord of the Spiders, Lancer Books (New York, NY), 1971.

The Barbarians of Mars (also see below), Compact Books (London, England), 1965, published under name Michael Moorcock as The Masters of the Pit, Lancer Books (New York, NY), 1971.

Warrior of Mars (contains Warriors of Mars, Blades of Mars, and The Barbarians of Mars), New English Library (London, England), 1981.


The Jewel in the Skull (also see below), Lancer Books (New York, NY), 1967.

Sorcerer's Amulet (also see below), Lancer Books (New York, NY), 1968, published as The Mad God's Amulet, Mayflower Books (St. Albans, England), 1969.

Sword of the Dawn (also see below), Lancer Books (New York, NY), 1968.

The Secret of the Runestaff (also see below), Lancer Books (New York, NY), 1969, published as The Runestaff, Mayflower Books (St. Albans, England), 1969.

The History of the Runestaff (contains The Jewel in the Skull, Sorcerer's Amulet, Sword of the Dawn, and The Secret of the Runestaff), Granada (London, England), 1979, reprinted, Gollancz (London, England), 2003.


The Final Programme (also see below), Avon (New York, NY), 1968, revised edition, Allison & Busby (London, England), 1969.

A Cure for Cancer (also see below), Holt (New York, NY), 1971.

The English Assassin (also see below), Allison & Busby (London, England), 1972.

The Lives and Times of Jerry Cornelius (also see below), Allison & Busby (London, England), 1976, published as The Lives and Times of Jerry Cornelius: Stories of the Comic Apocalypse, Four Walls Eight Windows (New York, NY), 2003.

The Adventures of Una Persson and Catherine Cornelius in the Twentieth Century (also see below), Quartet Books (London, England), 1976.

The Condition of Muzak (also see below), Allison & Busby (London, England), 1977, Gregg, 1978.

The Cornelius Chronicles (contains The Final Programme, A Cure for Cancer, The English Assassin, and The Condition of Muzak), Avon (New York, NY), 1977.

The Great Rock 'n' Roll Swindle, Virgin Books, 1980.

The Entropy Tango (also see below), New English Library (London, England), 1981.

The Opium General (also see below), Harrap (Edinburgh, Scotland), 1985.

The Cornelius Chronicles, Volume 2 (contains The Lives and Times of Jerry Cornelius and The Entropy Tango), Avon (New York, NY), 1986.

The Cornelius Chronicles, Volume 3 (contains The Adventures of Una Persson and Catherine Cornelius in the Twentieth Century and The Opium General), Avon (New York, NY), 1987.

A Cornelius Calendar, Phoenix House, 1993.

The Cornelius Quartet (contains The Final Programme, A Cure for Cancer, The English Assassin, and The Condition of Muzak), Phoenix Books, 1993.


Behold the Man, Allison & Busby (London, England), 1969, Avon (New York, NY), 1970, reprinted, Millennium (London, England), 1999.

Breakfast in the Ruins: A Novel of Inhumanity, New English Library (London, England), 1972, Random House (New York, NY), 1974.


The Knight of the Swords (also see below), Mayflower Books (St. Albans, England), 1970, Berkley Publishing (New York, NY), 1971.

The Queen of the Swords (also see below), Berkley Publishing (New York, NY), 1971.

The King of the Swords (also see below), Berkley Publishing (New York, NY), 1971.

The Bull and the Spear (also see below), Berkley Publishing (New York, NY), 1973.

The Oak and the Ram (also see below), Berkley Publishing (New York, NY), 1973.

The Sword and the Stallion (also see below), Berkley Publishing (New York, NY), 1974.

The Swords Trilogy (contains The Knight of the Swords, The Queen of the Swords, and The King of the Swords), Berkley Publishing (New York, NY), 1977, published as Corum, the Prince in the Scarlet Robe, Gollancz (London, England), 2002.

The Chronicles of Corum (contains The Bull and the Spear, The Oak and the Ram, and The Sword and the Stallion), Berkley Publishing (New York, NY), 1978, published as The Prince with the Silver Hand, Orion (London, England), 1997.


The Eternal Champion, Dell (New York, NY), 1970, revised edition, Harper (New York, NY), 1978.

Phoenix in Obsidian, Mayflower Books (St. Albans, England), 1970, published as The Silver Warriors, Dell (New York, NY), 1973.

The Dragon in the Sword, Granada (London, England), 1986.


The Warlord of the Air (also see below), Ace (New York, NY), 1971.

The Land Leviathan (also see below), Quartet Books (London, England), 1974.

The Steel Tsar (also see below), DAW (New York, NY), 1983.

The Nomad of Time (contains The Warlord of the Air, The Land Leviathan, and The Steel Tsar), Granada (London, England), 1984.


An Alien Heat (also see below), Harper (New York, NY), 1972.

The Hollow Lands (also see below), Harper (New York, NY), 1974.

The End of All Songs (also see below), Harper (New York, NY), 1976.

Legends from the End of Time, Harper (New York, NY), 1976.

The Transformations of Miss Mavis Ming, W.H. Allen (London, England), 1977, published as A Messiah at the End of Time, DAW (New York, NY), 1978.

The Dancers at the End of Time (contains An Alien Heat, The Hollow Lands, and The End of All Songs), Granada (London, England), 1981.


Count Brass (also see below), Mayflower Books (St. Albans, England), 1973, reprinted, Millennium (London, England), 1993.

The Champion of Garathorm (also see below), Mayflower Books (St. Albans, England), 1973.

The Quest for Tanelorn (also see below), Mayflower Books (St. Albans, England), 1975, Dell (New York, NY), 1976.

The Chronicles of Castle Brass (contains Castle Brass, The Champion of Garathorm, and The Quest for Tanelorn), Granada (London, England), 1985.


The War Hound and the World's Pain, Timescape, 1981.

The Brothel in Rosenstrasse, New English Library (London, England), 1982, Tigerseye Press, 1986.

The City in the Autumn Stars, Ace (New York, NY), 1986.

Lunching with the Antichrist: A Family History: 1925–2015 (omnibus), Mark V. Ziesing (Shingleton, CA), 1995.

Von Beck (contains The War Hound and the World's Pain, The City and the Autumn Stars, The Dragon in the Sword, and The Pleasure Garden of Felipe Sagittarius), White Wolf (Stonemountain, GA), 1996.


Byzantium Endures, Secker & Warburg (London, England), 1981, Random House (New York, NY), 1982.

The Laughter of Carthage, Random House (New York, NY), 1984.

Jerusalem Commands, Secker & Warburg (London, England), 1992.


Blood: A Southern Fantasy, Morrow (New York, NY), 1994.

Fabulous Harbors: A Sequel to Blood, Avon (New York, NY), 1996.

The War amongst the Angels, Avon (New York, NY), 1997.

Michael Moorcock's Multiverse (graphic novel), art by Walter Simonson, Mark Reeve, and John Ridgway, DC Comics (New York, NY), 1999.


The Final Programme (based on his novel of the same title; removed name from credits after dispute with director), EMI, 1973.

The Land That Time Forgot, British Lion, 1975.


(And contributor under name Michael Moorcock and under pseudonym James Colvin) The Best of "New Worlds," Compact Books (London, England), 1965.

Best SF Stories from "New Worlds," Panther Books, 1967, Berkley Publishing (New York, NY), 1968.

The Traps of Time, Rapp & Whiting, 1968.

(And contributor under pseudonym James Colvin) The Best SF Stories from "New Worlds" 2, Panther Books, 1968, Berkley Publishing (New York, NY), 1969.

(And contributor under pseudonym James Colvin) The Best SF Stories from "New Worlds" 3, Panther Books, 1968, Berkley Publishing (New York, NY), 1969.

The Best SF Stories from "New Worlds" 4, Panther Books, 1969, Berkley Publishing (New York, NY), 1971.

The Best SF Stories from "New Worlds" 5, Panther Books, 1969, Berkley Publishing (New York, NY), 1971.

(And contributor) The Best SF Stories from "New Worlds" 6, Panther Books, 1970, Berkley Publishing (New York, NY), 1971.

The Best SF Stories from "New Worlds" 7, Panther Books, 1971.

New Worlds Quarterly 1, Berkley Publishing (New York, NY), 1971.

New Worlds Quarterly 2, Berkley Publishing (New York, NY), 1971.

New Worlds Quarterly 3, Sphere Books (London, England), 1971.

(With Langdon Jones and contributor) The Nature of the Catastrophe, Hutchinson (London, England), 1971.

New Worlds Quarterly 4, Berkley Publishing (New York, NY), 1972.

New Worlds Quarterly 5, Sphere Books (London, England), 1973.

New Worlds Quarterly 6, Avon (New York, NY), 1973.

Before Armageddon: An Anthology of Victorian and Edwardian Imaginative Fiction Published before 1914, W.H. Allen (London, England), 1975.

England Invaded: A Collection of Fantasy Fiction, Ultramarine, 1977.

New Worlds: An Anthology, Fontana, 1983, revised edition, Thunders Mouth (New York, NY), 2004.

(With David Garnett) New Worlds 1 (originally published in comic-book format), VGSF (London, England), 1991.

(With David Garnett and consultant editor) New Worlds 2, VGSF (London, England), 1992.


The New World's Fair, United Artists, 1975.

Dodgem Dude/Starcruiser (single), Flicknife, 1980.

The Brothel in Rosenstrasse/Time Centre (single), Flicknife, 1982.

(With others) Hawkwind Friends and Relations, Flicknife, 1982.

(With others) Hawkwind & Co., Flicknife, 1983.

Composer of songs recorded by others, including Sonic Attack, The Black Corridor, The Wizard Blew His Horn, Standing at the Edge, Warriors, Kings of Speed, Warrior at the End of Time, Psychosonia, Coded Languages, Lost Chances, Choose Your Masks, and Arrival in Utopia, all recorded by Hawkwind; The Great Sun Jester, Black Blade, and Veteran of the Psychic Wars, all recorded by Blue Oyster Cult.


The character Elric was adapted for use in role-playing games from Avalon Hill Game Company and from Chaosium; featured in comic books published by Pacific Comics and by Star Reach Productions; and has been licensed for manufacture as miniature figures marketed by Citadel Miniatures. Moorcock's characters Elric and Oswald Bastable have been featured in computer games.


Michael Moorcock is considered among the most original and influential writers working as part of the so-called New Wave of science fiction, an international movement that brought a wide range of subjects and experimental literary styles to the genre beginning in the 1960. A prolific author with twelve series and many individual works to his credit, Moorcock has written comic novels, satires, high fantasy in the sword-and-sorcery vein, historical allegory, and nonfiction as well as science fiction; he has also written short stories and screenplays and has edited several science-fiction collections. As editor of the British science-fiction magazine New Worlds, Moorcock is credited with helping to spark the New Wave movement and for providing a showcase for some of its most talented practitioners. A writer, he is widely acknowledged as a gifted storyteller who is, in the words of Booklist reviewer Algis Budrys, one of "fantasy/sf's most uninhibited experimenters."

Many commentators praise Moorcock's books, which characteristically combine imaginative narratives with experimental literary structures, humor, and joyous wordplay, as thoughtful, inventive, literate, entertaining, and, on occasion, profound; several of his works, in fact, are considered tour de forces. Some critics have been less enthralled with Moorcock's books, calling them obscure, self-indulgent, and disturbing. Moorcock is well regarded, however, both for the quality of his writing and the sincerity of his approach. In an essay for the Dictionary of Literary Biography, Colin Greenland wrote that Moorcock's "editorial work and his own fiction together represent a titanic effort, often against great resistance from the establishments of magazine and book publishing, to reunite the highest literary values with the forms and vitality of popular culture." Washington Post Book World critic Gregory Feeley added that Moorcock "has long been Britain's quintessential novelist of urban life" and dubbed the writer "one of our very best novelists and a national treasure."

Although the author of only one book written specifically for children, the heroic fantasy Sojan, Moorcock's books have been popular with younger readers since the 1960s. Writing in Science Fiction Studies, Ralph Willett claimed that during the 1960s and early 1970s Moorcock became "that rare phenomenon, the popular novelist whose work has also become a cult among the young and avant-garde"; Spectator critic Paul Ableman called the author "the thinking hippy's bard." Several of Moorcock's books feature youthful protagonists who search for a sense of self, and as the author once commented, "All the characters in a Fantasy have to be childish or adolescent in order to function. Because they're larger than life their emotions are huge, their ambitions and their destinies are vast."

In one of his most prominent series, Moorcock describes the adventures of Elric of Melnibone, a young hero who differs vastly from the macho figures who often appear in fantasy stories. A fey albino who is dependent on his vampiric broadsword Stormbringer, Elric battles for his soul with the Lords of Order and Chaos; according to Greenland, Elric's "problems of identity and meaning, purpose and desire, battled out in a crude and violent universe ruled by ambiguous powers indifferent to his values, are essentially problems of adolescent frustration." The "Elric" books are among the most popular of Moorcock's titles among the young, and have inspired comic books and games as well as a line of miniature figures.

Early in his career, while writing and editing Tarzan Adventures, Moorcock created realistic short stories for adults. Attracted by both the freedom and the marketability of science fiction, he began contributing stories to magazines, including "The Stealer of Souls," which introduces his character Elric. Encouraged by E.J. Carnell, editor of New Worlds magazine and a man whom Moorcock has called "the single most influential figure in British sf," he wrote more "Elric" stories and began producing novellas and novelettes for New Worlds, Science Fantasy, and Science Fiction Adventures. After leaving Tarzan Adventures, Moorcock joined the Sexton Blake Library and Amalgamated Press, considered the longest-running detective series in the world, and wrote the Sexton Blake novel Caribbean Crisis with James Cawthorn under the house pseudonym Desmond Reid;
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he also worked for several children's annuals and wrote comic strips featuring both real and imaginary heroes before becoming employed by the British Liberal Party.

During the early 1960s Moorcock published his first two books, The Stealer of Souls and Other Stories and Stormbringer, and became editor of New Worlds following Carnell's retirement. At the magazine, he encouraged content that was more socially and politically relevant. "I felt sf could become a genuine literary form whilst retaining its popular audience," he once explained. In this way, New Worlds became a keystone of the New Wave movement; it featured experimental stories by such writers as Jorge Luis Borges, William S. Burroughs, and J.G. Ballard and published the work of Brian Aldiss, Samuel R. Delany, and Thomas M. Disch, among others. In an interview with Ian Covell for Science Fiction Review, Moorcock noted of New Wave: "We were a generation of writers who had no nostalgic view of the pulp magazines, who had come to SF as a possible alternative to mainstream literature and had taken SF seriously…. We were trying to find a viable literature for our time. A literature which took account of science, of modern social trends, and which was written … according to the personal requirements of the individuals who produced it."

Although New Worlds, under Moorcock's leadership, was an influential magazine in its field, it was never a financial success and was attacked for its inclusion of explicit sex and violence. As editor and publisher, Moorcock was often forced to write a quick novel to pay the bills. In his Dream Makers: The Uncommon People Who Write Science Fiction, Charles Platt recounted: "It was not unusual for the magazine's staff to be found cowering on the floor with the lights out, pretending not to be home, while some creditor rang the bell and called hopefully through the mail slot in the front door—to no avail." Ignored by British publishing distributors, New Worlds ceased publication in 1970; since then, Moorcock has edited several original anthologies of the magazine, both individually and with David Garnett.

As he did with New Worlds, Moorcock attempted to liberate his own writing from the traditional forms of fantasy and science fiction. The Final Programme, the ironic thriller that introduces popular protagonist Jerry Cornelius, is the first of Moorcock's books to accomplish this goal. Jerry Cornelius, a physicist turned adventurer, is the antihero of a multivolume series of darkly comic contemporary novels that are often considered Dickensian in their scope. Combining fantastic elements with James Bond-style adventures, the series marks Jerry as a symbol of 1960s values while lampooning his excesses. Described by his creator as "something of a modern Candide" and by Greenland as "an entirely new kind of fictional character," Jerry has no consistent gender, personality, or appearance; he/she changes sex and race and morphs into different characters in every volume. The landscape Jerry inhabits is just as flexible, containing a multitude of alternative histories, each contradictory and all peopled with characters who die and are resurrected as a matter of course. Jerry travels from one inconclusive adventure to another, trapped in an endless existence.

Throughout the "Jerry Cornelius" series, as with others in his oeuvre, Moorcock creates a "multiverse," a series of parallel universes each with their own reality, and he underscores these imaginative landscapes with the theme of how society's emphasis on power and war has led to its deterioration. The novels The Condition of Muzak and The Great Rock and Roll Swindle may be of special interest to young people: The Condition of Muzak casts Jerry as a working-class lad who dreams of becoming a rock star, while The Great Rock and Roll Swindle was written at the same time as the film that shares its name, about seminal punk band the Sex Pistols. Moorcock considers four "Jerry Cornelius" novels—The Final Programme, A Cure for Cancer, The English Assassin, and The Condition of Muzak—to be a single work. These books, more recently collected as The Cornelius Chronicles, were considered by Angus Wilson in the Washington Post Book World to form "one of the most ambitious, illuminating, and enjoyable works of fiction published in English" during the late twentieth century.

Like the "Jerry Cornelius" books, several of Moorcock's other works comment on contemporary society; as John Clute noted in the New Statesman, the author has, in fact, written "the history of the modern world." For example, Behold the Man, a novel expanded from a Nebula award-winning novella of the same title, describes how Karl Glogauer, a modern-day Jew, time-travels to ancient Palestine to search for the truth about the Crucifixion and discovers Jesus Christ, in the words of Janice Elliott in New Statesman, as "a hunchbacked congenital imbecile." Assuming Christ's identity, Karl is finally crucified as Jesus, "leaving" as Greenland noted, "no opportunity for a second coming." Behold the Man is usually accepted as the novel through which critics began to recognize Moorcock as a serious writer.

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In the second "Glogauer" novel, Breakfast in the Ruins, Moorcock resurrects the character and presents accounts of his incarnations during times of catastrophe and torture—past, present, and future—in such cities as Capetown, Kiev, Shanghai, and Saigon.

Moorcock's literary reputation has also been enhanced by the publication of Byzantium Endures and The Laughter of Carthage, novels that are often considered among his finest contributions to more conventional fiction. Together, the books describe the autobiography of Russian emigre Colonel Maxim Arturovitch Pyatnitski (shortened to Pyat), born January 1, 1900, whose life mirrors the history of the twentieth century. A figure who first appeared peripherally in the "Jerry Cornelius" tetralogy, Pyat survives the Russian Revolution, travels throughout America and Europe, meets figures ranging from Dylan Thomas to Tom Mix, and participates in several important historical events. He is, however, a self-aggrandizing megalomaniac and cocaine addict who imagines himself to be a great engineer and inventor—the equal of Thomas Edison—and a major figure on the stage of world history. The illegitimate son of a Jewish father, Pyat is an anti-Semite who sees the truest form of Christianity, as embodied in the Russian Orthodox Church, in opposing the Jews, Asians, Bolsheviks, and other groups whom he considers destroyers of order; he likens Western Christianity to Byzantium, his enemies to Carthage.

In his review in the Chicago Tribune Book World, Robert Onopa called Byzantium Endures "utterly engrossing as narrative, historically pertinent, and told through characters so alive and detail so dense that it puts to shame all but a few writers who have been doing this kind of work all along." Times Literary Supplement reviewer Valentine Cunningham noted of The Laughter of Carthage that "this is epic writing," while Gregory Sandow observed in the Village Voice: "It's wonderful to see Moorcock grow from a genre writer into, simply, a writer…. [He] has had to come the long way to literary recognition. But now, with The Laughter of Carthage, he can surely no longer be denied his due; this enormous book … must establish him in the front rank of practising English novelists."

Moorcock's "Blood Trilogy," which includes Blood, Fabulous Harbors, and The War amongst the Angels and is accompanied by a graphic novel titled Michael Moorcock's Multiverse, features characters able to transport themselves from reality to a secondary world called the Second Ether until a fault in reality threatens to swallow the world into the "multiverse." The series includes theological speculations, philosophy, and alternate histories. Of The War amongst the Angels, Roland Green wrote in Booklist: "The pacing is brisk, [and] Moorcock's command of the language is quite up to his usual high standard." The author's alternate worlds intersect with the "Blood Trilogy," as well as with scenes from the author's own history. "Moorcock delights in the juxtaposition: the tone lurches and shifts enough to make the reader seasick, but Moorcock makes it work," wrote Robert K.J. Killheffer in a review for the Magazine of Science Fiction and Fantasy. Killheffer also noted, "It's devilishly hard to convey [the series'] substance in any kind of traditional summary."

After years between books in the saga of Elric the Eternal Man, Moorcock decided to return to his hero. He explained to an interviewer for Crescent Blues Web site that his reasons for doing so were threefold: "I was surprised that so many readers found the "Blood Trilogy" baffling and the Multiverse comic that goes along with it even more baffling…. When this happens, I feel I have to redeem myself with those readers who were disappointed without disappointing those readers who liked the more experimental stuff." His second reason was due to a crime perpetrated by a criminal who said he was compelled by the spirit of Elric. This act brought up a theme Moorcock has written about: the fascist elements of sword and sorcery. "Because I was troubled, I tried to produce an Elric sequence which would somehow address some of those troubling issues." The third reason was that "Nobody would buy King of the City unless I agreed to do more commercial fantasy as well." (King of the City is Moorcock's ambitious novel that Guardian essayist Iain Sinclair considered "a comprehensive encyclopedia of lost lives, uncelebrated loci, trashed cultural memory.")

The more recent "Elric" stories focus on Elric's parallel as he exists in a different reality: Count Ulric von Bek. Set during World War II, The Dreamthief's Daughter follows von Bek as he attempts to with Elric and Oona, the daughter of a magical woman known as the dreamthief, in order to defeat Gaynor von Minct, the otherworldly incarnation of Elric's eternal enemy. The entire balance of the multiverse is in peril, unless von Bek and Elric can use the forces of their two enchanted swords, Ravenbrand and Stormbringer, to overcome evil and balance the forces of Law and Chaos. Paula Luedtke, in Booklist, noted that the novel is "full of magic and mystery" and commented that the villains meet "satisfyingly gory ends." Luedtke recommended the book for a young-adult audience. Library Journal reviewer Jackie Cassada called the novel "fast-paced action with metaphysical adventure."

Oona and Ulric von Bek vacation in Nova Scotia in The Skrayling Tree, and after von Bek is kidnaped by Indian warriors, Oona joins a shaman called White Crow in order to rescue her husband from an alternate reality. Elric, in the meantime, has been asked by another force to defeat a giant named White Crow. As their forces oppose, the heroes begin to learn the truth of who is pulling the strings. "The tale's power stems largely from the astounding lyricism of the author's prose," noted a reviewer for Publishers Weekly. Roland Green, in Booklist, while noting that the second book might be confusing for newcomers to Moorcock's multiverse, wrote that the tale will "be eagerly embraced by serious followers of Moorcock's fictive cosmos."

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The third and final book of the trilogy, The White Wolf's Son, tells the story of Oonagh von Bek, the daughter of Oona and Ulric. While her parents are away, Oonagh disappears into a series of caves and discovers a world peopled with talking animals and people. Transported from the past and now placed out of their time-line, these people include a young woman who is actually Oonagh's grandmother. "The author plays fascinating games with shifting realities," commented a critic for Kirkus Reviews, while a Publishers Weekly reviewer called the book a "triumph" for the "ever original, vastly influential Moorcock."

Evaluations of Moorcock's career often emphasize the sheer volume and variety of his work. "It is like trying to evaluate an industry," Philip Oakes explained in the London Sunday Times Magazine. Throughout his career, the author has been credited for his impressive ability to write consistently well within a wide range of genres and styles. As Oakes noted, "Moorcock strikes me as the most prolific, probably the most inventive and without doubt the most egalitarian writer practising today." In an interview with Ian Covell for Science Fiction Review, Moorcock spoke about his literary philosophy: "I'm attempting all the time to find equilibrium between unchecked Romanticism ("Chaos") and stifling Classicism ("Law")…. And in form I'm always looking for a combination (that will work) of the epic and the novel—or the romance and the novel…. I call very few of my books 'novels' because they are not, classically speaking, novels. They are romances. Scene and idea (allegorical concerns) in general take precedence over characters…. The same moral arguments are debated again and again from my earliest (The Golden Barge) to my latest…. The trick is to look at them from as many different ways as possible."

"Even my fantasy novels are inclined to deal with moral problems rather than magical ones," the writer added. "I'm turning more and more away from SF and fantasy and more toward a form of realism used in the context of what you might call an imaginative framework. Late Dickens would be the model I'd most like to emulate." Moorcock's writing process, however, leans more toward his beginnings in the comic book industry. "Pretty much everything I do has some sort of storyboard," he told Stephen Hunt of the Science Fiction Crowsnest Web site, concluding: "I don't know anyone else who does this."

In Contemporary Authors Autobiography Series, Moorcock wrote further about the writing life: "The job of a novelist has its own momentum, its own demands, its own horrible power over the practitioner. When I look back I wonder what I got myself into all those years ago when I realised I had a facility to put words down on paper and have people give me money in return. For ages the whole business seemed ludicrous. I couldn't believe my luck. Frequently, I still can't but it seems an unnatural way of earning a living. Of course, it's no longer easy. It's often a struggle. It spoils my health…. I suppose it must be an addiction. I'm pretty sure, though I deny it heartily, that I could now no longer give it up. I'm as possessed as any fool I used to mock." Moorcock, once nominally retired, told Paula Guran of Publishers Weekly about the works he still hoped to write. "I want to devote myself to shorter, more autobiographical books and any short fantasy I write will only be if I have an idea I feel strongly about and if it's commissioned, say, by an anthology or magazine."

Biographical and Critical Sources


Bilyeu, R., Tanelorn Archives, Pandora's Books, 1979.

Callow, A.J., compiler, The Chronicles of Moorcock, A.J. Callow, 1978.

Carter, Lin, Imaginary Worlds, Ballantine (New York, NY), 1973.

Contemporary Authors Autobiography Series, Volume 5, Thomson Gale (Detroit, MI), 1987.

Contemporary Literary Criticism, Thomson Gale (Detroit, MI), Volume 27, 1984, Volume 58, 1990.

Dictionary of Literary Biography, Volume 14: British Novelists since 1960, Thomson Gale (Detroit, MI), 1983.

Greenland, Colin, The Entropy Exhibition: Michael Moorcock and the British "New Wave" in Science Fiction, Routledge & Kegan Paul (London, England), 1983.

Harper, Andrew, and George McAulay, Michael Moorcock: A Bibliography, T-K Graphics, 1976.

Moorcock, Michael, and Colin Greenland, Death Is No Obstacle (interview), Savoy Books (Manchester, England), 1992.

Platt, Charles, Dream Makers: The Uncommon People Who Write Science Fiction, Berkley Publishing (New York, NY), 1980.

Walker, Paul, editor, Speaking of Science Fiction: The Paul Walker Interviews, Luna Publications, 1978.

Wollheim, Donald A., The Universe Makers, Harper (New York, NY), 1971.


Analog, February, 1970; March, 1990.

Booklist, September 1, 1979, Algis Budrys, review of Gloriana, p. 29; February 15, 1995, p. 1064; November 15, 1997, Roland Green, review of The War amongst the Angels, p. 548; March 15, 2001, Paula Luedtke, review of The Dreamthief's Daughter, p. 1361; February 15, 2003, Roland Green, review of The Skrayling Tree, p. 1060.

Books and Bookmen, June, 1971, p. 44; October, 1972, p. 72; May, 1974, p. 86; August, 1978, p. 44.

Chicago Tribune Book World, January 31, 1982; March 21, 1982, Robert Onopa, review of Byzantium Endures, p. 10; March 26, 1989.

Commonweal, August 1, 1975.

Encounter, November, 1981, p. 81.

Extrapolation, winter, 1989, p. 412.

Guardian (London, England), November 23, 2000, Iain Sinclair, "Crowning Glory: Michael Moorcock's London."

Guardian Weekly, April 10, 1969, p. 15.

Kirkus Reviews, October 1, 1995, p. 1387; October 15, 2004, review of New Worlds: An Anthology, p. 990; May 15, 2005, review of The White Wolf's Son, p. 568.

Library Journal, November 15, 1997, review of The War amongst the Angels, p. 79; April 15, 2001, Jackie Cassaca, review of The Dreamthief's Daughter, p. 137; August, 2001, Marc Kloszewski, review of King of the City, p. 163; February 15, 2003, Jackie Cassada, review of The Skrayling Tree, p. 172; November 15, 2004, Jackie Cassada, review of New Worlds: An Anthology, p. 55; June 15, 2005, Jackie Cassada, review of The White Wolf's Son, p. 66.

Listener, June 23, 1988, p. 31; January 18, 1990, p. 33.

Locus, November, 1989, p. 57; February, 1990, p. 15.

Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, June, 1998, Robert K.J. Killheffer, review of The War amongst the Angels, p. 39.

New Republic, June 15, 1974.

New Statesman, April 4, 1969, Janice Elliott, "Present & Past," p. 486; June 18, 1976, p. 821; September 7, 1984, John Clute, "No Escape," pp. 31-32.

New York Times Book Review, April 5, 1970, p. 43; April 25, 1976, p. 46; February 21, 1982, p. 12; February 10, 1985, p. 24; November 23, 1986, p. 31.

Observer (London, England), April 4, 1976, p. 27; April 3, 1977, p. 26.

Publishers Weekly, January 16, 1995, p. 442; October 30, 1995; February 12, 2001, review of The Dreamthief's Daughter, p. 188; July 16, 2001, review of King of the City, p. 156; January 27, 2003, review of The Skrayling Tree, p. 241; September 22, 2003, review of The Life and Times of Jerry Cornelius, p. 89; May 23, 2005, review of The White Wolf's Son, p. 63, and Paula Guran, "A Busy Retirement," p. 64; July 25, 2005, review of Silverheart, p. 53.

Punch, January 16, 1985, p. 82.

Saturday Review, April 25, 1970. p. 61.

Science Fiction Review, July, 1979, interview with Moorcock, pp. 18-25.

Science Fiction Studies, March, 1976, Ralph Willett, "Moorcock's Achievement and Promise in the Jerry Cornelius Books," pp. 75-79.

Spectator, August 10, 1974, p. 182; April 9, 1977, p. 21; June 27, 1981, Paul Ableman, "Unagonising Saga," pp. 24-25; February 9, 1985, p. 24; May 13, 2000, D. J. Taylor, review of King of the City, p. 33; May 19, 2001, Miranda France, review of London Bone, p. 43.

Sunday Times Magazine, November 5, 1978, Philip Oakes, "Michael Moorcock," p. 100.

Time, January 28, 1985, p. 82.

Times Literary Supplement, May 31, 1974, p. 577; May 7, 1976, p. 561; June 30, 1978, p. 742; July 3, 1981, p. 747; September 7, 1984, Valentine Cunningham, "Incontinent Continents-Full," p. 1005; July 1, 1988, p. 731; February 23, 1990, p. 202.

Village Voice, March 2, 1982, Gregory Sandow, review of Byzantium Endures, pp. 42-43.

Washington Post Book World, December 23, 1984, Angus Wilson, "The Picaresque Imagination of Michael Moorcock," pp. 1, 13; May 14, 1989, Gregory Feeley, "In the Heart of the Heart of the City," p. 8.

Writer, September, 2003, "Michael Moorcock Believes That It May Be Time 'to Hang up My Pointy Fantasy Hat,'" p. 10.


Crescent Blues Web site, http://www.crescentblues.com/ (December 3, 2005), interview with Moorcock.

SFCrowsnest.com, http://www.sfcrowsnest.com/ (August, 2002), Stephen Hunt, interview with Moorcock.

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