Friday, June 23, 2017


Michael Moorcock

Back in the 1960's I was a big science-fiction/fantasy fan, well, to be honest, I leaned more towards fantasy. I first encountered the work of Michael Moorcock through his Elric of Melnibone tales in the pages of Science Fantasy Magazine. I loved them and read everything I could by the writer. Of course Elric, the albino with the mighty sword Stormbringer was one of many heroes that Moorcock created : Corum, Dorian Hawkmoon, von Bek, Oswald Bastable etc - although, actually, as his many readers will know, they are actually all the same person - Moorcock was probably ahead of his time in using the multiverse theory which allowed his characters to sometimes encounter alternative versions of themselves. While I enjoyed all these books I eventually moved on to other writers and fictional genres and my Michael Moorcock collection, or most of it, was sold. I did keep, however the books feature my favourite incarnation of the writer's "Eternal Champion" - the English Assassin : Jerry Cornelius (THE FINAL PROGRAMME, the first Cornelius novel was an alternative of the first Elric story, THE DREAMING CITY - or vice versa, I can't remember which) who swaggered through a warzone that bore a remarkable resemblance to swinging pop culture London. I always suspected that Moorcock took the name Cornelius from a Notting Hill greengrocer shop called "Cornelius O'London" which was near to his London home. I used to pass his house, then in Ladbroke Grove, on a regular basis and once peered down through the basement window to see a large model rocket-ship (tin plate, I believe) on a table top.. Over the years I've had three encounters with Moorcock. The first was a brief meeting at the World Science Fiction Convention in 1965. The second was a book signing at the Dark They Were and Golden Eyed bookshop in Soho when, presenting a book to be signed, Moorcock asked me if I wouldn't have much rather had one of the rarer unsigned ones!

The third meeting was the most memorable as far as I an concerned. During a break from work my friend Colin and I visited The Fantasy Centre at 157 Holloway Road. As we browsed the door opened and in walked Michael Moorcock and a man who I recognised as American fantasy author Karl Edward Wagner. I knew the owners of the shop and before long we were all chatting away happily. My friend, Colin, was most impressed to meet Moorcock but, as an Edgar Rice Burroughs fan, more impressed to be meeting Edward P. Bradbury (one of Moorcock's pseudonyms), author of a trio of Martian pastiches in the style of Burroughs. I actually grabbed a book by Wagner of the shelves to get it autographed. Both writers were extremely friendly and happy to talk to a couple of fans.

Karl Edward Wagner

Michael Moorcock's work has brought me great pleasure in the past and although my taste for science fantasy or speculative fiction has waned over the years I still occasionally read his books and have tremendous affection for his back catalogue. A career which encompasses Tarzan comics, Sexton Blake, editing the ground-breaking magazine NEW WORDS, writing novels, literary criticism and being a rock musician is pretty impressive.

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