Moorcock, Michael 1939–

views updated

Moorcock, Michael 1939–

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

PERSONAL: Born December 18, 1939, in Mitcham, Surrey, England; son of Arthur Edward and June (Taylor) Moorcock; married Hilary Denham Bailey (a writer), October 25, 1962 (divorced, April, 1978); married Jill Riches, May 7, 1978 (divorced, 1983); married Linda Mullens Steele, September 23, 1983; children: (first marriage) Sophie, Katherine, Max. Education: Michael Hall, Sussex, Pitman's College, Croydon, Surrey, England.

ADDRESSES: Home—P.O. Box 1230, Bastrop, TX 78602. Agent—Howard Morhaim, Howard Morhaim Literary Agency, 841 Broadway, Ste. 604, New York, NY 10003.

CAREER: Writer. Has also worked as a singer-guitarist. Tarzan Adventures (juvenile magazine), editor, 1956–58; Amalgamated Press, London, England, editor and writer for the Sexton Blake Library and for comic strips and children's annuals, 1959–61; Liberal Party, editor and pamphleteer, 1962; New Worlds (science fiction magazine), London, England, editor and publisher, 1964–; worked with rock and roll bands Hawkwind and Blue Oyster Cult; member of rock and roll band Michael Moorcock and the Deep Fix.

MEMBER: Authors Guild, Society of Authors, Royal Overseas League, Amnesty International, Southern Poverty Law Center, Fawcett Society.

AWARDS, HONORS: 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 awards, British Fantasy Society (London, England), 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, 1976, for The Hollow Lands, Legends from the End of Time, and The Sailor on the Seas of Fate, 1977, for The Weird of the White Wolf, 1978, for Gloriana; or, The Unfulfill'd Queen, 1979, for The Golden Barge, 1981, for The Entropy Tango, 1985, for The Chronicles of Castle Brass, 1986, for The Dragon in the Sword, 1987, for Wizardry and Wild Romance, and 1988, for Fan-tasy; International Fantasy awards, 1972 and 1973, for fantasy novels; Guardian Literary 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 Unfulfill'd Queen; Bram Stoker Award, Horror Writers Association, 2004, for lifetime achievement.


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

The Sundered Worlds, Compact Books (London, England), 1965, published as The Blood Red Game, Sphere Books (London, England), 1970.

The Fireclown, Compact Books (London, England), 1965, 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 Books (New York, NY), 1966, revised edition published 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.

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

Behold the Man, Allison & Busby (London, England), 1969.

(With wife Hilary Bailey) The Black Corridor, Ace Books (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 (London, England), 1975.

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

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

Epic Pooh, British Fantasy Society (London, England), 1978.

Gloriana; or The Unfulfill'd Queen, Allison & Busby (London, England), 1978, Avon (New York, NY), 1979.

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

The Golden Barge, DAW Books (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 Books (London, England), 1983.

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

Letters from Hollywood, Harrap (London, England), 1986.

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

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

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

Casablanca, Gollancz (London, England), 1989.

Tales from the Texas Woods, Mojo Press, 1997.

Sailing to Utopia, illustrated by Rick Berry, White Wolf (Stone Mountain, GA), 1997.

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

(With Storm Constantine) Silverheart, Simon & Schuster (London, England), 2000.

London Bone (short stories), Scribner (New York, NY), 2001.

(With China Mieville, Paul de Fillipo, and Geoff Ryman) Cities, Gollancz (London, England), 2003.

Contributor, sometimes under pseudonyms William Ewert Barclay and Michael Barrington, among others, to Guardian, Punch, Ambit, London Times, and other publications. Contributor to anthologies, including The Road to Science Fiction 5: The British Way and Year's Best SF 3.

Many of Moorcock's novels have provided the story for graphic novels, including Stormbringer, The Jewell in the Skull, and The Crystal and the Amulet, which were adapted and drawn by James Cawthorn. Writer of comic strips in early 1960s and of the DC comic Michael Moorcock's Multiverse, 1-12, 1997–.


(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.

(Ghostwriter) Roger Harris, The LSD Dossier, Compact Books (London, England), 1966.


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

Stormbringer, Jenkins (England), 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 Books (New York, NY), 1977.

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

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

Elric: The Return to Melnibone, Unicorn Bookshop (London, England), 1973.

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

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

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

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

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


The Dreamthief's Daughter: A Tale of the Albino, Warner Books (New York, NY), 2001.

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

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


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 Books (New York, NY), 1986.

Lunching with the Antichrist: A Family History: 1925–2015 (short stories), Ziesing, 1995.

Von Bek, White Wolf (Stone Mountain, GA), 1995.


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.

Kane of Old Mars, White Wolf (Stone Mountain, GA), 1998.


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 (London, 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 (London, 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.

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


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.

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 (New York, NY), 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 (London, England), 1980.

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

The Opium General (also see below), Harrap (London, England), 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.

The Cornelius Quartet, Phoenix House (London, England), 1993, Four Walls Eight Windows (New York, NY), 2001.

A Cornelius Calendar, Phoenix House (London, England), 1993.

Firing the Cathedral, PS Publishing (Harrogate, England), 2002.


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

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 (London, 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.

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, Millennium Books, 1993.


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

Phoenix in Obsidian, Mayflower Books (London, 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 Books (New York, NY), 1971.

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

The Steel Tsar (also see below), DAW Books (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 Books (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 (London, England), 1973.

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

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

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


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, Jonathan Cape (London, England), 1992.

Jerusalem Commands, Jonathan Cape (London, England), 1992.

The Vengeance of Rome, Jonathan Cape (London, England), 2006.


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

Fabulous Harbors, Avon (New York, NY), 1995.

The War amongst the Angels, Avon (New York, NY), 1996.


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 (London, England), 1967, Berkley Publishing (New York, NY), 1968.

The Traps of Time, Rapp & Whiting (London, England), 1968.

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

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

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

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

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

The Best SF Stories from "New Worlds" 7, Panther Books (London, England), 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 (Hastings-on-Hudson, NY), 1977.

New Worlds: An Anthology, Fontana (London, England), 1983.

H.G. Wells, The Time Machine, Tuttle (Boston, MA), 1993.

(With Michael Butterworth) Queens of Deliria, Collector's Guide, 1995.


The New Worlds 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, Flick-nife, 1982.

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

Also 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.

ADAPTATIONS: The character Elric is featured in role-playing games from the Avalon Hill Game Company and from Chaosium, in comic books published by Pacific Comics, Dark Horse Comics, and by Star Reach Productions, and in miniature figures marketed by Citadel Miniatures; the character Oswald Bastable is featured in a computer game.

WORK IN PROGRESS: Love, a memoir of Mervyn and Maeve Peake; a graphic novel about Elric's early life and training as a sorcerer; a book about Heaven's Gate for the British Film Institute.

SIDELIGHTS: Michael Moorcock was associated with the New Wave, an avant-garde science fiction movement of the 1960s, which introduced a wider range of subject matter and style to the science fiction field. As editor of New Worlds, the most prominent of the New Wave publications, Moorcock promotes the movement and provides a showcase for its writing.

The New Wave, wrote Donald A. Wollheim in The Universe Makers, was an "effort to merge science fiction into the mainstream of literature … The charges brought against old line science fiction were on the basis of both structure and content. Structurally, the charge was made that too much of the writing retained the flavor of the pulps [and] that science fiction writers were not keeping up with the experimental avant-garde…. Internally, the charge was made that science fiction actually was dead—because the future was no longer credible. The crises of the twentieth century … were obviously insurmountable. We would all never make it into the twenty-first century." In response to Wollheim's comments, Moorcock told CA that this conclusion missed the point, for he and his fellow writers "loved the present" and were not, in fact, completely disillusioned with the future. In an interview with Ian Covell of Science Fiction Review, Moorcock said of the New Wave: "We were a generation of writers who had no nostalgic love 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 not according to genre conventions but according to the personal requirements of the individuals who produced it."

Moorcock has written science fiction adventures in the style of Edgar Rice Burroughs's Mars novels, sword-and-sorcery novels, comic and satirical science fiction, and time-travel science fiction. Some of Moorcock's fantasy novels have earned him major genre awards and an exalted position among fans. Tom Hutchinson in the London Times, for example, called Moorcock's sword-and-sorcery novel, The Chronicles of Castle Brass, "a masterpiece of modern high fantasy."

Despite their continuing popularity, some of these books, Moorcock admits, were written for the money. New Worlds was an influential magazine in the science fiction field, but it was never a financial success. When creditors needed to be paid it was Moorcock, as editor and publisher, who was held responsible. He was often forced to write a quick novel to pay the bills. Charles Platt recounted in his Dream Makers: The Uncommon People Who Write Science Fiction, that "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."

The genre books that brought Moorcock to critical attention, and those that he considers among his most important, combine standard science fiction trappings with experimental narrative structures. Breakfast in the Ruins: A Novel of Inhumanity, for instance, contains a number of historical vignettes featuring the protagonist Karl Glogauer. In each of these, Karl is a different person in a different time, participating in such examples of political violence as the French Revolution, the Paris Commune, a Nazi concentration camp, and a My Laistyle massacre. Interwoven with these vignettes is a ho-mosexual love scene, involving Karl and a black Nigerian, that takes on a mystical connotation as the two lovers seem to merge into each other's identities. Helen Rogan of Time described the book as "by turns puzzling, funny, and shocking," and Moorcock as "both bizarrely inventive and highly disciplined." Writing in the New York Times Book Review, John Deck called the book "a dazzling historical fantasy."

In the books and stories featuring Jerry Cornelius, Moorcock has experimented with character as well as with narrative structure. Cornelius has no consistent character or appearance. He is, as Nick Totton wrote in Spectator, "a nomad of the territories of personality; even his skin color and gender are as labile as his accomplishments." Cornelius's world is just as flexible, containing a multitude of alternative histories, all contradictory, and peopled with characters who die and resurrect as a matter of course. Within this mutable landscape, Cornelius travels from one inconclusive adventure to another, trapped in an endless existence. As Colin Greenland maintained in the Dictionary of Literary Biography, Cornelius is "an entirely new kind of fictional character, a dubious hero whose significance is always oblique and rarely stable, equipped to tackle all the challenges of his time yet unable to find a satisfactory solution to any of them."

The Condition of Muzak, completing the initial Jerry Cornelius tetralogy, won the Guardian Literary Prize in 1977, bringing Moorcock added praise from the literary world. At the time of the award, W.L. Webb of the Guardian wrote, "Michael Moorcock, rejecting the demarcation disputes that have reduced the novel to a muddle of warring subgenres, recovers in these four books a protean vitality and inclusiveness that one might call Dickensian if their consciousness were not so entirely of our own volatile times." Moorcock, according to Angus Wilson in the Washington Post Book World, "is emerging as one of the most serious literary lights of our time…. For me his Jerry Cornelius quartet [of novels] assured the durability of his reputation." Ralph Willett, writing in Science-Fiction Studies, claimed that during the late 1960s and early 1970s, Moorcock became "that rare phenomenon, the popular novelist whose work has also become a cult among the young and the avant-garde." Willett compared Moorcock to experimental novelist William Burroughs, "especially with respect to the Jerry Cornelius books … Moorcock lacks William Burroughs's accurate and devastating satire, and his verbal experiments have been less radical, but in both artists can be observed a basic dissatisfaction with linear methods of representing space and time, a surreal sense of co-existing multiple worlds, and an emphasis on apocalyptic disaster."

After almost a decade-long rest, Moorcock brought back Jerry Cornelius in 2002 in Firing the Cathedral. In Firing the Cathedral, Cornelius responds to the September, 2001, terrorist attacks on America and their consequences, the realities of global warming, and other apocalyptic events. Patrick Hudson, writing for The Zone, stated that the new Cornelius book "finds Moorcock and Cornelius in fine form." He continued, "There's plenty for them to do in the post September 11th world of the war on terrorism, and once more life is cheap and weapons plentiful. Moorcock makes artful use of clippings from the last eighteen months … and bits and bobs from the archive throw the broad satirical sweeps into sharp relief."

Moorcock's literary standing was substantially enhanced with the publication of Byzantium Endures and The Laughter of Carthage. These two novels are the closest Moorcock came to conventional literary fiction, being the purported autobiography of Russian emigré, Colonel Pyat. Pyat was born on January 1, 1900, and the story of his life becomes a history of the twentieth century. Pyat survives the Russian revolution, travels throughout Europe and America, and participates in a number of important historical events. But he is a megalomaniac who imagines himself to be both a great inventor, the equal of Thomas Edison, and a major figure on the stage of world history. He is also an anti-Semite who sees true Christianity, as embodied in the Russian Orthodox Church, as engaged in a battle against the Jews, Orientals, Bolsheviks, and other destroyers of order. He likens Western Christianity to Byzantium, his enemies to Carthage. Naturally, Pyat's account of his life is self-aggrandizing and inaccurate.

Byzantium Endures focuses on the first twenty years of Pyat's life, telling of his opportunistic role in the Russian revolution. Pyat survives the upheaval of the revolution and the subsequent civil war by working first for one side and then another. As Frederic Morton wrote in the New York Times Book Review, his mechanical skills are put to good use "repairing the rifles of anarchist guerrillas, fixing the treads of White Army tanks [and] doctoring the engine in one of Trotsky's armed trains." Pyat claims to have invented the laser gun on behalf of Ukrainian nationalists fighting against the Red Army, but when the electrical power failed, so did his gun. "Pyat's self-serving recollections," Bart Mills stated in the Los Angeles Times Book Review, "contain a vivid picture of the events of 1917–1920, down to menus, street names and the color of people's moustaches." The novel, wrote Robert Onopa in the Chicago Tribune Book World, is "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."

The Laughter of Carthage covers Pyat's life from 1920 to 1924, detailing his escape from Communist Russia and subsequent travels in Europe and America. His activities are sometimes unlawful, requiring him to change his residence and name frequently. He meets everyone from Dylan Thomas to Tom Mix and lives everywhere from Constantinople to Hollywood. Because of the scope of Pyat's adventures, The Laughter of Carthage is a sweeping picture of the world during the 1920s. "Moorcock provides an exotic itinerary, a robust cast of opportunists and scoundrels, and a series of dangerous adventures and sexual escapades," noted R.Z. Sheppard of Time. "This is epic writing," praised Valentine Cunningham in the Times Literary Supplement, adding, "As [D. W.] Griffith stuffed his movies with vast throngs and Promethean matter so Pyat's narration feeds hugely on the numerous people he claims to have met, the history he makes believe he has helped to shape, the many places his traveller's tales take him to."

Pyat's narration, because it is colored by his eccentric, offensive views and his distorted sense of self-importance, gives a fantastic sheen to the familiar historical events he relates. "This is Moorcock's achievement: he has rewritten modern history by seeing it in the distorting mirror of one man's perceptions so that the novel has the imaginative grasp of fantasy while remaining solidly based upon recognizable facts," Peter Ackroyd wrote in the London Times. "Moorcock has here created a fiction," Nigel Andrew said in the same paper, "that is seething with detailed life at every level—in the headlong narrative, in the bravura passages of scene-setting description, and, particularly, in the rendering of Pyat's vision of the world." Although Richard Eder of the Los Angeles Times found Pyat's narrative to be an "extremely long-winded unpleasantness" because of his political views, the New York Times Book Review's Thaddeus Rutkowski forgave the "sometimes tedious" nature of Pyat's narration. "Most often," he found, "Pyat's tirades are beguiling. They are the pronouncements of a singularly innocent intelligence gone awry."

Moorcock continued Pyat's story with the publication of Jerusalem Commands. In it, he recounts Pyat's life between the years of 1924 and 1929, in which he lives as minor celebrity Max Peters in Hollywood. "Moorcock's powers of description—especially when focused on the sights and smells of megalopoli—and his range of references are immense," remarked Mark Sanderson in the Times Literary Supplement. However, Sanderson noted, "Like Thomas Pynchon he can simultaneously be highly impressive and deeply boring. But his main achievement in this tetralogy … is to force the reader to afford the luckiest bastard in the whole damn universe (Colonel Pyat) a grudging respect. Even a little affection too." Julian Symons, a newcomer to the Colonel Pyat trilogy, found him less than enchanting. Writing for the London Review of Books, he said in a commentary on the length of Pyat's memoirs that "Michael Moorcock's purpose, I suppose, was to offer a picaresque view of history in the first half of this century as seen by a man, by no means a hero, shuttled from country to country. It's a pity he chose a narrator suffering from logorrhea."

In Blood: A Southern Fantasy, Moorcock returns to the New Wave style of his early writings. Tim Sullivan in the Washington Post Book World hailed the return, saying that "the New Wave style is so old it seems new again, adding a certain freshness to the mix." Blood, according to David V. Barrett in New Statesman & Society, "is both a fantasy and a literary novel" in which the characters (persons of color in a New South where Anglos are in the minority) are gamblers playing games that draw them into other realities. Moorcock borrows previous themes and elements of his earlier stories to create what he terms a "multiverse." In World Literature Today Carter Kaplan wrote, "His language is a post-poststructuralist pidgin of Christian humanism, New Age metaphysics, and pulp science fiction that increases in profundity as it becomes more ridiculous. Blood translates meaninglessness into epiphany."

Lunching with the Antichrist: A Family History: 1925–2015 is a collection of Moorcock's short stories from his Von Bek family series. The various members of the Von Beks display Moorcock's concept of the "Seeker"—they are characters who spend their time pursuing meaning in their lives. The collection, noted Gerald Jonas in the New York Times Book Review, "satisfies the same high standards that [Moorcock] espoused as an editor." Roland Green in Booklist hailed Moorcock as "a master of his craft."

Moorcock combines mainstream fiction with a bit of fantasy in The Brothel of Rosenstrasse, a novel set in the imaginary city of Mirenburg. The city's brothel is the center of social life, as well as a "microcosm of fin de siecle Central Europe; hedonistic, decadent, deluded, and heedless of an inevitable future," as Elaine Kendall wrote in the Los Angeles Times. Narrated by an aging hedonist who relates the story of his long and dissipated life, the novel follows a handful of decadent characters to their eventual destruction during the bombardment of Mirenburg. Suffering makes the characters finally come alive in a way they have never been before. "They begin to engage our full attention," Kendall concluded, "and earn not only our sympathy but in some cases, our respect. By then it's too late; Mirenburg and all the good and evil it represented has vanished forever. If there's no parable here, surely there's a moral."

In Mother London, Moorcock presents a "complex, layered history of London since the war, seen through the stories of a group of psychiatric patients," explained Brian Applecart in the London Times. The novel earned high praise from several critics. Nigel Andrew of the Listener called Mother London "a prodigious work of imaginative archaeology … [in which Moorcock] displays the generosity of spirit, the sweep and sheer gusto of Dickens." Similarly, Gregory Feeler in the Washington Post Book World stated that Mother London "often indulges its author's crotchets and biases, [but] it also proves warm and humane, often surprisingly funny, and moving in a way Moorcock has never before succeeded in being." "If," wrote Andrew, "this wonderful book does not finally convince the world that [Moorcock] is in fact one of our very best novelists and a national treasure, then there is no justice."

Moorcock composed two more variations of the London theme with King of the City and London Bone. King of the City follows the life of Denny Dover, from his post-World War II childhood to his exploits as a paparazzo in the '80s and '90s. John Coulthart from The Edge wrote, "Art, culture and politics all blend together in a heady, gumbo-like brew. Like the novelists of old, this book has an epic sweep … and seeking to encompass all that's worth communicating…. While others are concerned with literary games Moorcock's concern is with writing great books." London Bone is a collection of nine short stories that pursue ordinary characters whose lives take an extraordinary turn. Some of the stories are about the seedy side of the London tourist trade, Irish-Americans, and brave old ladies. Writing for The Guardian, Ian Penman commented that the UFO tales are really about love and family, "Family is the tie that binds these nine pieces together, rather than the nominal city." Penman also wrote that "Moorcock … remains a curiously old-fashioned visionary. Which is good, when it includes the 'old-fashioned' virtues of humane interest and the refusal to follow trend for trend's sake."

Moorcock's move from science fiction to mainstream fiction was welcomed by several critics. Observed Gregory Cent in the Village Voice, "It's wonderful to see Moorcock grow from a genre writer into, simply, a writer…. A mainstream novel gives him far more scope to nourish the obsessions (and also the passion, zaniness, and eye for detail) that made his science fiction both fun and worthwhile." Moorcock, Andrew said, "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—with its forerunner, Byzantium Endures—must establish him in the front rank of practising English novelists."

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 noted in the London Times Magazine. Throughout his career, Moorcock has shown an impressive ability to write consistently well within a wide range of genres and styles. "I have read about half his prodigious output," Oakes wrote, "and on the strength of that sample Moorcock strikes me as the most prolific, probably the most inventive and without doubt the most egalitarian writer practicing today." Writing in the Observer of Moorcock's long career, John Clute described him as "a figure of revolutionary fervour in the British literary world for nearly thirty years." Wilson called Moorcock "one of the most exciting discoveries that I have been able to make in the contemporary English novel during the forty or so years that I have been publishing my own novels and reviewing those of my contemporaries. Exciting for myself and, as is becoming increasingly clear with the appearance of each Moorcock book, for a legion of other readers."

Moorcock moved to Texas in the mid-1990s. Mike Shea covered the 1998 San Antonio Science Fiction Conference, attended by Moorcock, and said that the author "was welcomed with open arms, and his most basic needs—a reasonable number of good bookstores and restaurants—were served. Still, he grumbles that Texas 'is, compared to London, a cultural wasteland. [But] I'm an old whore basically; I can adapt to anything.' He was intrigued by the voices of Texas fiction—literary and speculative—and the attention focused on Austin. He views contemporary Texas writers as myth builders who are 'creating a kind of fiction that is very much going to be characteristic fiction of the twenty-first century.'"

Moorcock brought together his characters Elric of Melnibone and Ulric von Bek in The Dreamthief's Daughter: A Tale of the Albino, which begins with the growing power of Hitler. A Kirkus Reviews contributor said that "the best arrives early on, during the rise of Nazi Germany; thereafter, series fans will enjoy the warm familiarity of Elric's bloodthirsty adventures." "Fans of the series should enjoy this addition," wrote a Publishers Weekly reviewer. "A topnotch fantasy adventure," was Library Journal reviewer Jackie Cassada's comment. Booklist contributor Paula Luedtke opened her review of the book with "Moorcock stalwarts, rejoice! The Eternal Champion is back," and concluded by calling The Dreamthief's Daughter "quite a romp."

Moorcock talked about his life and work in an article on the Time Warner Bookmark Web site, where he said, "I have always been engaged with politics. Tom Paine's my hero. I'd like to help try to make the world a better place. That's why people who know my politics are a little surprised my books have so much to do with kings and princes. I do point out that my heroes, by and large, although doomed to perpetual struggle, tend to triumph over the supernatural and even, sometimes, their aristocratic backgrounds." Moorcock went on to say, "Reality isn't simple. Fiction can be simpler, can offer a relief from that complex world. But no matter how it entertains and distracts us, the best fiction, in my view, whether fantastic or naturalistic, acknowledges those realities. There's an urgent need for such realism. More than at any point in human history our planet's future is now very much in our own hands. I can't help feeling we'd be wise to embrace its complexity rather than pretend it doesn't exist."

Moorcock told CA: "Most of my work recently has been in terms of a moral and psychological investigation of Imperialism (Western and Eastern) seen in terms of fiction. Even my fantasy novels are inclined to deal with moral problems rather than magical ones. I'm turning more and more away from SF and fantasy and more towards 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."

Writing in the Contemporary Authors Autobiography Series, Moorcock commented of 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."



Authors and Artists for Young Adults, Thomson Gale (Detroit, MI), Volume 7, 1992, Volume 26, 1999.

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 5, 1976, 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, 1983.

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

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.


Amazing Stories, May, 1971.

Analog, February, 1970; March, 1990.

Booklist, November 1, 1991, p. 496; February 15, 1995, p. 1064; October 1, 1998, Ray Olson, review of Behold the Man, p. 293; March 15, 2001, Paula Luedtke, review of The Dreamthief's Daughter: A Tale of the Albino, p. 1361.

Books and Bookmen, June, 1971; September, 1971; October, 1972; May, 1974; August, 1978.

Chicago Tribune Book World, January 31, 1982.

Commonweal, August 1, 1975.

Detroit News, February 24, 1985.

Encounter, November, 1981.

Extrapolation, winter, 1989.

Guardian Weekly, April 10, 1969.

Harper's Bazaar (British edition), December, 1969.

Ink, August, 1971.

Kensington News, April 18, 1969.

Kensington Post, April 4, 1969.

Kirkus Reviews, October 1, 1995, p. 1387.

Library Journal, November 15, 1991, p. 111; April 15, 2001, Jackie Cassada, review of The Dreamthief's Daughter, p. 137.

Listener, June 23, 1988; January 18, 1990.

Locus, May, 1989; November, 1989; February, 1990; March, 1990; May, 1993, p. 21.

London Review of Books, September 10, 1992, p. 22.

Los Angeles Times, January 9, 1985; November 10, 1987.

Los Angeles Times Book Review, March 7, 1982; February 7, 1988.

Luna Monthly, November, 1975.

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

New Republic, June 15, 1974.

New Statesman, April 4, 1969; May 18, 1973; June 18, 1976; April 15, 1977.

New Statesman & Society, July 24, 1992, p. 38; January 13, 1995, p. 38.

New Worlds, March, 1969.

New York Times Book Review, April 5, 1970; May 19, 1974; April 25, 1976; February 21, 1982; February 10, 1985; November 23, 1986; March 12, 1995, p. 25.

Observer, April 4, 1976; April 3, 1977.

Publishers Weekly, January 16, 1995, p. 442; June 11, 1995, p. 30; October 30, 1995, p. 49; February 12, 2000, review of The Dreamthief's Daughter, p. 188.

Punch, January 16, 1985.

Rapport, Volume 9, number 2, p. 35.

Saturday Review, April 25, 1970.

Science Fiction Chronicle, May, 1998, review of Kane of Old Mars, p. 40, review of The Prince with the Silver Hand, p. 46.

Science Fiction Monthly, February, 1975.

Science Fiction Review, January, 1971; January, 1979.

Science-Fiction Studies, March, 1976.

Spectator, April 1, 1969; August 10, 1974; November 20, 1976; April 9, 1977; December 24, 1977; June 27, 1981; February 9, 1985.

Speculation, May, 1970; August, 1970.

Texas Monthly, July, 1998, Mike Shea, "Sci-Fi Fo Fum," p. 60.

Time, August 5, 1974; January 28, 1985.

Time Out, September 17, 1971.

Times (London, England), September 6, 1984; November 25, 1984; August 5, 1985; June 18, 1988.

Times Literary Supplement, October 27, 1972; November 9, 1973; May 31, 1974; May 7, 1976; June 30, 1978; July 3, 1981; September 7, 1984; July 1, 1988; February 23, 1990; July 10, 1992, p. 22.

Times Magazine (London, England), November 5, 1978.

Tribune Books (Chicago, IL), March 26, 1989.

Village Voice, March 2, 1982.

Virginia Quarterly Review, spring, 1975.

Washington Post Book World, March 21, 1982; December 23, 1984; September 28, 1986; May 14, 1989; December 31, 1995, p. 9.

World Literature Review, autumn, 1995, p. 796.


Edge, (April 28, 2003), John Coulthart, review of King of the City.

Guardian Online, (April 28, 2003), Ian Penman, "Magical history tours."

Michael Moorcock: Cartographer of the Multiverse, (June 4, 2001).

Multiverse, (April 7, 2003).

PS Publishing, (April 28, 2003).

Time Warner Bookmark, (June 4, 2001), "Michael Moorcock Speaks."

Zone, (April 28, 2003), Patrick Hudson, review of Firing the Cathedral.

About this article

Moorcock, Michael 1939–

Updated About content Print Article