That's my standard advice to people who want to write fantasy: Stop reading fantasy. I read very little in the genre and never read as widely as most. I have no special liking for it, but I do have a talent for it, so I suppose you can say I took the line of least resistance. (...)
I have never really thought of myself as a fantasy writer or a genre writer, although I've written plenty of genre, including Westerns. But I began as a professional journalist and I tend to think of myself as a professional writer.
A professional writer and editor he certainly is - and he didn't waste any time developing his various occupations: Moorcock began editing amateur magazines at eleven, became editor of Tarzan Adventures at sixteen; later an editor of Sexton Blake Library. He sold his first stories at age fifteeen and has earned a living as a writer / editor since - but also his musical career began early on with a spell as a blues singer / guitarist...and some strange locations to perform...
two enthusiasms as a kid were rock and roll
and fantasy fiction. They were mine. (...)
Moorcock also published various anthologies including The Best SF Stories From New Worlds series and The Traps Of Time.
His own novels range from fantasy and SF, comedy thrillers to serious fiction, often utilising unconventional structures - like alternating histories. Behold The Man for which Moorcock won the Nebula Award in 1967 is an outstanding example of this form.
Karl Glogauer, a religious fanatic time-travels to Nazareth, year zero, of our Lord - only to find out that his holy God's son is a hopeless imbecile...
- but in order to get (his) history back onto the right track, he gradually slips more and more into Christ's role - aiming for (his) ultimate fulfilment, the inevitable catharsis on Golgatha...
"It was one
Easter in Ladbroke Grove. I think we were talking at the kitchen table,
and I said I thought that Jesus was actually the product of the desires
of his society, and that that was how such people are created: Adolf
Hitler, for example. I was quoted in Private Eye shortly after the book,
saying I could easily have picked Hitler instead of Jesus.
Dandyism, Subversion and J.C.
>> The reason why most of the classical Science Fiction is infantile is because it can't afford complex characters - so it's perfectly fair to make them adults - so the more you are going into that process the more you are losing the SF elements. <<
Among the many inhabitants of that MULTIVERSE of his own invention (with Elric of Melnibone being probably the most popular) - Moorcock is the inventor of a character named: Jerry Cornelius - and his many related, similarly named personaes - first published in the late60's.
"Originally I was attracted to science fiction and fantasy but I really didn't like most of it, so I tried to write space operas - but I couldn't really do it. One of the problems with writing space operas is that you can't write about character - I think that it's very hard to write about character in such stories. By the time I started writing about Jerry Cornelius - once I found my voice - I found enough confidence to start writing the way I wanted to write, in as style that was my own and a form that was my own."
Cornelius was described as a mixture of James Bond, Mick Jagger and a Messiah (with a capital MESS, I'd say).
Most characters of Moorcock's books are drawn from the densely crowded, heterogenous population, of his immediate surrounding of Ladbroke Grove, containing a lot of immigrants from all parts of the world. And like many others of Moorcock's protagonists, Jerry, the chiqué underground dandy-subversive, moves around in the adventurous, decaying landscape of London.
The Cornelius figure was adopted by some other writers like Thomas Harrisson who expanded and varied the story - and thus became a sort of cult figure among the growing psychedelic culture; protagonist of various comic series and a TV-film. A cult-figure of it's time, for sure - and one, that brought Moorcock a lot of critical appraisal:
"The creator of Jerry Cornelius has been compared by reviewers to Tolkien and Raymond Chandler, Wyndham Lewis and Ronald Firbank, Mervyn Peake and Edgar Rice Burroughs, Charles Dickens and James Joyce. I could throw in Nabokov and Borges " Sunday Times (U.K.)
No, Mr. Cornelius is certainly not the love'n'peace messiah - he's an utterly twisted and subversive dude...
Suspicious even to those, who have been compared to him....or were offered to act as him:
"Jerry Cornelius English assassin, Jewish cockney, rock star, physicist, time traveler, and messiah to the Age of Science has been hailed as the first cyberpunk anti-hero. A political non-conformist and ardent feminist, Cornelius ranks among the most complex characters in modern fantasy fiction.
Once considered shocking - Mick Jagger, offered the part of Jerry Cornelius by the filmmaker David Putnam, turned down the role because it was "too freaky" - the Cornelius saga was written between 1965 and 1976. The books were originally banned in Ireland, South Africa, New Zealand, Canada, Spain, Italy, and Burma, among other places, due to the highly sexed, violent, and seeming amoral antics of their central protagonist. Moorcock's hero later became the inspiration for the film The Crow, the Luther Arkwright graphic novels, and Alan Moore's "Watchmen" graphic novels, among many other cutting-edge endeavors." (from a PR-text on the current re-print of the Cornelius books)
here's a short excerpt of a Moorcock inteview by Colin Greenland:
CG: But in Corneliana, vice an virtue are very much in question. MM: There are still goodies and baddies. I can tell the difference, even if you can't. CG: Well, you may not think so now, but I think you were actually in the business of confusing simple liberal moralities - I mean, of transcribing the moral confusion of that period. MM: Moral confusion, granted, but there are still goodies and baddies. The good are the people who are happy to accept that there is confusion and live with it. The bad are the people who are just as confused, but are trying to impose their own version of things on the world. CG: But our hero is 'The English Assassin', who goes through the story picking off victims from a shopping list and shooting them... MM: True. CG: ...crucifying them; setting fire to them... MM: He does a little bit of that. But he's not a bad lad underneath.
'Ironic reversal and parody was a basic method', as Harrisson put it - 'saying we may take it all too far or in the wrong direction - like the ecology movement; that's why Cornelius was wearing a panda fur suit.'
Cornelius books were attacking various media strategies - especially
the way they spoke about Science and New Media - all Cornelius was saying
is, take it easy, it's only technology, you can use
In the early 70's Moorcock began his collaboration with Hawkwind - whose members used to hang out at the famous 'Mountain Grill' cafe in Ladbroke Grove where Moorcock was living at the time. The band employed SF motives from very early on and soon Calvert and Moorcock became their main contributors in that field. Calvert was becoming a more or less regular performer with Hawkwind as their 'resident poet' introducing more and more of his conceptual ideas. He started with the occasional recitation of his own poetry and later on also performed texts by Moorcock and began to contribute his own music. The best document for this unique mixture of music, poetry and electronic sound-collages is Hawkwind's live Space Ritual - the initial idea for this came from Calvert as well.
This Hawkwind classic also contains two substantial text-contributions of Mike Moorcock:Sonic Attack and 'The Black Corridor'
- the former remained a classic HW number up to now - performed, - in those days, by Calvert moving through a wide scale of emotions: from subtle, threatening whisper to a furious screaming outburst of paranoid commands.
> Read (and hear) the full text of SONIC ATTACK - incl. 2 different live-versions
go to part II of the Calvert &
Moorcock Collab-Relations pages