Michael Moorcock Biography
Michael Moorcock comments:
Pseudonyms: Bill Barclay; Edward P. Bradbury; James Colvin; Hank Janson; Desmond Reid. Nationality: British. Born: Mitcham, Surrey, 1939. Military Service: Served in the Royal Air Force Training Corps. Career: Editor, Tarzan Adventures, London, 1956-57, and Sexton Blake Library, Fleetway Publications, London, 1958-61; editor and writer for Liberal Party, 1962-63. Editor since 1964 and publisher since 1967, New Worlds, London. Since 1965 songwriter and member of various rock bands including Hawkwind, Deep Fix, and Blue Oyster Cult. Awards: British Science Fiction Association award, 1966; Nebula award 1967; Derleth award 1972, 1974, 1975, 1976; Guardian Fiction prize, 1977; Campbell Memorial award, 1979; World Fantasy award, 1979. Guest of Honor, World Fantasy Convention, New York, 1976. Agent: c/o Giles Gordon, Curtis Brown Group, 28-29 Haymarket, London SW1Y 4SP, England.
Caribbean Crisis (as Desmond Reid, with James Cawthorn). London, Fleetway, 1962.
Stormbringer. London, Jenkins, 1965; New York, Lancer, 1967; revised edition, New York, DAW, 1977.
The Sundered Worlds. London, Compact, 1965; New York Paperback Library, 1966; as The Blood Red Game, London, Sphere, 1970.
The Fireclown. London, Compact, 1965; New York, PaperbackLibrary, 1967; as The Winds of Limbo, Paperback Library, 1969.
The Twilight Man. London, Compact, 1966; New York, Berkley, 1970; as The Shores of Death, London, Sphere, 1970.
Printer's Devil (as Bill Barclay). London, Compact, 1966; revised edition, as The Russian Intelligence, as Michael Moorcock, Manchester, Savoy, 1980.
Somewhere in the Night (as Bill Barclay). London, Compact, 1966; revised edition, as The Chinese Agent, London, Hutchinson, and New York, Macmillan, 1970.
The Jewel in the Skull. New York, Lancer, 1967; London, Mayflower, 1969; revised edition, New York, DAW, 1977.
The Wrecks of Time. New York, Ace, 1967; revised edition, as The Rituals of Infinity; or, The New Adventures of Doctor Faustus, London Arrow, 1971; New York, DAW, 1978.
The Final Programme. New York, Avon, 1968; London, Allison andBusby, 1969; revised edition, London, Fontana, 1979.
Sorcerer's Amulet. New York, Lancer, 1968; as The Mad God's Amulet, London, Mayflower, 1969; revised edition, New York, DAW, 1977.
The Sword of the Dawn. New York, Lancer, 1968; London, May-flower, 1969; revised edition, New York, DAW, 1977.
The Secret of the Runestaff. New York, Lancer, 1969; as The Runestaff, London, Mayflower, 1969; revised edition, New York, DAW, 1977.
The Ice Schooner. London, Sphere, and New York, Berkley, 1969; revised edition, London, Harrap, 1985.
Behold the Man. London, Allison and Busby, 1969; New York, Avon, 1970.
The Black Corridor, with Hilary Bailey. London, Mayflower, andNew York, Ace, 1969.
The Eternal Champion. London, Mayflower, and New York, Dell, 1970; revised edition, New York, Harper, 1978.
Phoenix in Obsidian. London, Mayflower, 1970; as The Silver Warriors, New York, Dell, 1973.
A Cure for Cancer. London, Allison and Busby, and New York, HoltRinehart, 1971; revised edition, London, Fontana, 1979.
The Warlord of the Air. London, New English Library, and NewYork, Ace, 1971.
The Swords Trilogy. New York, Berkley, 1977.
The Knight of the Swords. London, Mayflower, and New York, Berkley, 1971.
The Queen of the Swords. London, Mayflower, and New York, Berkley, 1971.
The King of the Swords. London, Mayflower, and New York, Berkley, 1971.
The Sleeping Sorceress. London, New English Library, 1971; NewYork, Lancer, 1972; revised edition, as The Vanishing Tower, New York, DAW, 1977.
Elric of Melniboné. London, Hutchinson, 1972; as The Dreaming City, New York, Lancer, 1972.
An Alien Heat. London, MacGibbon and Kee, and New York, Harper, 1972.
Breakfast in the Ruins: A Novel of Inhumanity. London, New EnglishLibrary, 1972; New York, Random House, 1974.
The English Assassin. London, Allison and Busby, and New York, Harper, 1972; revised edition, London, Fontana, 1979.
The Chronicles of Corum. London, Grafton, 1986.
The Bull and the Spear. London Allison and Busby, and New York, Berkley, 1973.
The Oak and the Ram. London, Allison and Busby, and New York, Berkley, 1973.
The Sword and the Stallion. London, Allison and Busby, and NewYork, Berkley, 1974.
The Chronicles of Castle Brass. London, Granada, 1985.
Count Brass. London, Mayflower, 1973; New York, Dell, 1976.
The Champion of Garathorm. London, Mayflower, 1973.
The Quest for Tanelorn. London, Mayflower, 1975; New York, Dell, 1976.
The Land Leviathan. London, Quartet, and New York, Doubleday, 1974.
The Hollow Lands. New York, Harper, 1974; London, Hart DavisMacGibbon, 1975.
The Distant Suns, with Philip James. Llanfynydd, Dyfed, UnicornBookshop, 1975.
The Sailor on the Seas of Fate. London, Quartet, and New York, DAW, 1976.
The Adventures of Una Persson and Catherine Cornelius in the Twentieth Century. London, Quartet, 1976.
The End of All Songs. London, Hart Davis MacGibbon, and NewYork, Harper, 1976.
The Condition of Muzak. London, Allison and Busby, 1977; Boston, Gregg Press, 1978.
The Transformation of Miss Mavis Ming. London, W.H. Allen, 1977; as Messiah at the End of Time, New York, DAW, 1978.
The Cornelius Chronicles (omnibus). New York, Avon, 1977.
The Weird of the White Wolf. New York, DAW, 1977; London, Panther, 1984.
The Vanishing Tower. New York, DAW, 1977.
The Bane of the Black Sword. New York, DAW, 1977; London, Panther, 1984.
Gloriana; or, The Unfulfill'd Queen. London, Allison and Busby, 1978; New York, Avon, 1979.
The History of the Runestaff (collection). London, Hart DavisMacGibbon, 1979.
The Great Rock 'n' Roll Swindle. London, Virgin, 1980; revised edition as "Gold Diggers of 1977", in Casablanca and Other Stories, London, Gollancz, 1989.
The Golden Barge. Manchester, Savoy, and New York, DAW, 1980.
The Entropy Tango. London, New English Library, 1981.
The Steel Tsar. London, Mayflower, 1981; New York, DAW, 1982.
The War Hound and the World's Pain. New York, Timescape, 1981;London, New English Library, 1982.
Byzantium Endures. London, Secker and Warburg, 1981; New York, Random House, 1982.
The Brothel in Rösenstrasse. London, New English Library, 1982;New York, Carroll and Graf, 1987.
The Dancers at the End of Time (omnibus). London, Granada, 1983.
The Laughter of Carthage. London, Secker and Warburg, and NewYork, Random House, 1984.
The Crystal and the Amulet. Manchester, Savoy, 1986.
The Dragon in the Sword. New York, Ace, 1986; London, Grafton, 1987.
The City in the Autumn Stars. London, Grafton, 1986; New York, Ace, 1987.
Mother London. London, Secker and Warburg, 1988; New York, Harmony, 1989.
The Fortress of the Pearl. London, Gollancz, and New York, Ace, 1989.
The Revenge of the Rose. New York, Ace, and London, Grafton, 1991.
Blood: A Southern Fantasy. New York, W. Morrow, 1994.
Fabulous Harbors. New York, Avon Books, 1995.
The War Amongst The Angels: An Autobiographical Story. NewYork, Avon Books, 1997.
Novels as Edward P. Bradbury
Warrior of Mars. London, New English Library, 1981.
Warriors of Mars. London, Compact, 1965; New York, Lancer, 1966; as The City of the Beast (as Michael Moorcock), Lancer, 1970.
Blades of Mars. London, Compact, 1965; New York, Lancer, 1966; as The Lord of the Spiders (as Michael Moorcock), Lancer, 1970.
The Barbarians of Mars. London, Compact, 1965; New York, Lancer, 1966; as The Masters of the Pit (as Michael Moorcock), Lancer, 1970.
The Stealer of Souls and Other Stories. London, Spearman, 1963;New York, Lancer, 1967.
The Deep Fix (as James Colvin). London, Compact, 1966.
The Time Dweller. London, Hart Davis, 1969; New York, Berkley, 1971.
The Singing Citadel: Four Tales of Heroic Fantasy. London, May-flower, and New York, Berkley, 1970.
The Jade Man's Eyes. Brighton, Unicorn Bookshop, 1973.
Elric: The Return to Melniboné (cartoon), illustrated by PhilippeDruillet. Brighton, Unicorn Bookshop, 1973.
Moorcock's Book of Martyrs. London, Quartet, 1976; as Dying for Tomorrow, New York, DAW, 1978.
The Lives and Times of Jerry Cornelius. London, Allison and Busby, 1976; New York, Dale, n.d.
Legends from the End of Time. London, W.H. Allen, and New York, Harper, 1976.
My Experiences in the Third World War. Manchester, Savoy, 1980.
The Opium General and Other Stories. London, Harrap, 1984.
Elric at the End of Time: Fantasy Stories. London, New EnglishLibrary, 1984; New York, DAW, 1985.
Casablanca and Other Stories. London, Gollancz, 1989.
Lunching With The Antichrist: A Family History: 1925-2015. Shingletown, California, Mark V. Ziesing, 1995.
Von Bek. Stone Mountain, Georgia, White Wolf, 1995.
Hawkmoon. Clarkston, Georgia, White Wolf, 1995.
Uncollected Short Stories
"The Girl Who Shot Sultry Kane" (as Hank Janson), in Golden Nugget, April 1965.
"The Museum of the Future," in Daily Telegraph (London), May 1990.
"The Ciarene Purse," in Zenita, June 1990.
"Colour," in New Worlds (London), 1991.
The Land That Time Forgot, with James Cawthorn, 1974.
Sojan (for children). Manchester, Savoy, 1977.
Epic Pooh. London, British Fantasy Society, 1978.
The Retreat from Liberty: The Erosion of Democracy in Today's Britain. London, Zomba, 1983.
Letter from Hollywood, with Michael Foreman. London, Harrap, 1986.
Wizardry and Wild Romance: A Study of Epic Fantasy. London, Gollancz, 1987.
Editor, The Best of New Worlds. London, Compact, 1965.
Editor, Best SF Stories from New Worlds 1-8. London, Panther, 8 vols., 1967-74; New York, Berkley, 6 vols., 1968-71.
Editor, The Traps of Time. London, Rapp and Whiting, 1968.
Editor (anonymously), The Inner Landscape. London, Allison andBusby, 1969.
Editor, New Worlds Quarterly 1-5. London, Sphere, 5 vols., 1971-73;New York, Berkley, 4 vols., 1971-72.
Editor, with Langdon Jones, The Nature of the Catastrophe. London, Hutchinson, 1971.
Editor, with Charles Platt, New Worlds 6. London, Sphere, 1973; asNew Worlds 5, New York, Avon, 1973.
Editor, Before Armageddon: An Anthology of Victorian and Edwardian Imaginative Fiction Published Before 1914. London, W.H. Allen, 1975.
Editor, England Invaded: A Collection of Fantasy Fiction. London, W.H. Allen, and New York, Ultramarine, 1977.
Editor, New Worlds: An Anthology. London, Fontana, 1983.
Editor, with James Cawthorn, Fantasy: The 100 Best Books. London, Xanadu, and New York, Carroll and Graf, 1988.
Ghostwriter: The LSD Dossier, by Roger Harris. London, Compact, 1966.
Michael Moorcock: A Bibliography by Andrew Harper and George McAulay, T-K Graphics, 1976.
Bodleian Library, Oxford University; Sterling Library, Texas A & M University, College Station.
Speaking of Science Fiction: The Paul Walker Interviews edited by Paul Walker, Luna, 1978; The Entropy Exhibition: Michael Moorcock and the British "New Wave" in Science Fiction by Colin Greenland, London, Routledge, 1983; Michael Moorcock: A Reader's Guide by John Davey, revised edition, London, privately printed, 1992.
My work varies so radically in type that I've no way of introducing it. I write very little science fiction, in my own view and that of most science fiction readers. My genre fiction is mostly fantasy.
Much of my work borrowed from the iconography and vocabulary of science fiction in the 1960s but I would not, for instance, classify the Jerry Cornelius tetralogy as a genre work while The Dancers at the End of Time though a comedy is generically science fiction.
Since I've worked hard to break down the classifications I'm uncomfortable with them being applied to my own stuff. In the past ten years most of my fiction has been nongeneric.
Cross-fertilisation—internationally—is always what I aim for in an edition. My own work owes as much to German Schelmenroman as to the English nineteenth-century novel and very little, to say, pulp science fiction.
* * *
"Invent phantoms? Fabulous beasts? Powerful Gods? Whole Cosmologies?" said the astonished traveller. "Are all these things, then unreal?"
"They're real enough," Corum replied. "Reality, after all, is the easiest thing in the world to create."
(The Chronicles of Corum)
Corum's wit is a fitting introduction to the fictional world of Michael Moorcock. The paradox, "reality is the easiest thing to create" directs us to the astonishing fertility of Moorcock's imagination: Moorcock's work does indeed contain powerful gods, whole cosmologies, and fabulous beasts. The epigram also alerts us to the peculiarly persuasive nature of Moorcock's fiction. It is not of course reality that Moorcock creates in his books. His heroes, demigods, and monsters are spectacularly unlike anything we may recognise as reality. Yet his ideas attain "reality" because we, his readers, are willing to accept them as such: Moorcock is one of the most popular as well as the most prolific of contemporary fantasy writers.
He works quickly, wasting little effort on what Tolkien termed "subcreation." Entire continents are created in the space of a paragraph; characters in a single line. Significantly, Moorcock's books do not have maps. Stories such as the Elric saga and The History of the Runestaff pare characterisation and setting to the bone, resulting in a fictional form which moves at breathtaking speed and consists of a series of action sequences. Such novels owe much to the art of graphic "comic strip" magazines. Our pleasure is not in the imaginative exploration of other worlds but in the imaginative experience of sensations which the fictional device of another world makes possible. Brilliant tours de force such as the ornithopters and beast masks of The Jewel in the Skull are never developed at length. The stories are simply moving too fast to allow this. Moorcock succeeds in this because he is able to draw on a wealth of conventions established by a generation of fantasy writers since Tolkien.
Many of these derive ultimately from the epic: the overall structure of protracted revenge or quest within which occurs an episodic series of adventures characterised by discovery of marvels, capture, escape, and intervention by patron gods. The influence of the epic even extends down to dialogue:
I am Elric of Melniboné, last of a line of great sorcerer kings. This blade I wield will do more than kill you, friend demon. It will drink your soul and feed it to me. Perhaps you have heard of me by another name? … soul thief?
The ritualised challenge with its declaration of name and line-age, the savouring of the exotic sounds of an alien language, and the riddling around the hero's identity, all stem directly from the epic.
From the conventions of this genre Moorcock derives a number of essential principles. Firstly, the struggle of good (law) against evil (chaos). Secondly, the extension of this struggle, which is centered on earth, into other planes or dimensions. Thirdly, the movement of characters and objects of power between these dimensions, bringing "supernatural" elements into the initial conflict. Fourthly, the central importance of the hero, who is the decisive force in the battle between law and chaos.
While of crucial importance in Moorcock's world, the hero is nonetheless an ambiguous figure, at once attractive and forbidding. Like the antihero of Gothic literature many of his protagonists bear some scar or stigma which serves as an emblem of their alienation from mankind. Elric is an Albino, Corum has lost a hand and an eye, Dorian Hawkmoon has a black jewel embedded in his forehead. These scars symbolise the alienated, slightly inhuman perspective with which we enter the narratives. The prologue of The Dancers at the End of Time describes its protagonists: "Most of the old emotions had atrophied…. They had rivalry without jealously, affection without lust, malice without rage, kindness without pity."
This dark edge to Moorcock's fantasy emerges vividly in his portrayal of women: women are whores, warrior queens, demonesses or lovers. But love for Moorcock's heroes is often contaminated by bitterness, betrayal, or bereavement. Elric has to slay his wife, Zarozina, in Stormbringer, and Corum is slain by Medhbh, the woman he loves, in The Sword and the Stallion. In the unrestrained Cornelius saga, the hero's love is both incestuous and necrophilic. Moorcock, then, both embraces and subverts the conventions of twentieth-century fantasy.
Among more than sixty novels, one, perhaps, can be singled out: The City in the Autumn Stars. The hero, Von Beck, enters the Mittelmarch, a hidden realm contiguous to Europe in which occult forces reign. Here he finds his dreams and nightmares becoming real. Driven by his search for the goddess-like Libussa, Duchess of Crete, he is unwillingly caught up in supernatural mysteries in which Lucifer struggles with God for the redemption of the earth.
Here the story is not simply one of adventure but of initiation. Symbols from ancient myth and from the unconscious are awoken and come alive: the labyrinth, the minotaur, and the hermaphrodite. Sequences of mystical and erotic union are conveyed in dream-like images and in a heightened poetic, quasi-biblical language. Moorcock creates a fantasy which takes its protagonist through spiritual struggle to eventual wholeness. The effect of this on the reader is intensified by the author's exceptional use of a first person narrator. The epigraph to the work suggests an intriguing comparison between fantasy fiction and magic. Both are arts that transform those who deal with them: "At its deepest, this magic is concerned with the creative powers of the will."
No essay on Moorcock would be complete without mention of the playfulness which affectionately undercuts all the conventions of the genre he employs. This extends from the experiments with chapter titles and typography in the Cornelius chronicles to the wry humour of his fantasy heroes: in The Vanishing Tower Ereköse asks, "Why cannot I—we—ever be faced with a small problem, a domestic problem? Why are we forever involved with the destiny of the universe?
In Blood, a quartet of characters in the American South play a game of chance whereby they affect the fate of invented worlds. The book represents a summing-up of the large body of work that preceded it, and also marked the beginning of a sort of trilogy—though the second installment, Fabulous Harbors, is not a novel but a collection of short stories connected by narrative scenes. Together these help to form a glimpse of the "multiverse" Moorcock had been creating all along, and The War Amongst the Angels further defines this picture with scenes that stretch in space and time from the catacombs of Egypt to nineteenth-century England, and from events in World War II to the hills of Texas.
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