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Creator / Michael Moorcock

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"I think of myself as a bad writer with big ideas, but I’d rather be that than a big writer with bad ideas."

"They called for me and I went to them. I could not do otherwise. The will of the whole of humanity was a strong thing. It smashed through the ties of time and the chains of space and dragged me to itself. Why was I chosen? I still do not know, though they believed they had told me. Now it is done and I am here. I shall always be here. And if, as wise men tell me, time is cyclic, then I shall one day return to part of the cycle I knew as the twentieth century, for (it was no wish of mine) I am immortal."
— Prologue to The Eternal Champion

Michael Moorcock (born December 18, 1939, London) is a British Speculative Fiction author of roughly 80 novels and short stories collections. He combines a graphic and powerful imagination with an often frustrating inability to resolve a plot except by Deus ex Machina.

In the 1960s he became editor of New Worlds magazine, evolving its format from a fairly conservative science fiction magazine into an anarchic counter-cultural outlet, bringing a much-needed waft of swinging-London "hipness" and progressive sensibility to fantastic and fantasy fiction and touching off the New Wave Science Fiction movement.

Most of his work revolves around the concept of the "Eternal Champion"; a being who undergoes repeated incarnations throughout time, and is destined to maintain the balance between Law and Chaos— whether he wants to or not. Many of his earlier works were written as stand-alone works; but have been retroactively added to the Eternal Champion mythology, mainly through later crossovers.

The Eternal Champion commonly has a sidekick of some sort, if only briefly. Just as the Champion has many incarnations, so does the sidekick, and is commonly referred to as the Eternal Companion. The nature of the Companion varies, from Hypercompetent Sidekick, to The Watson, to Damsel in Distress, to almost pure comic relief. The various sidekicks are also commonly more down-to-earth than the Champion; and frequently Genre Savvy, being aware of the nature of The Multiverse, the Champion, and themselves.

The Eternal Champion also has a (typically doomed) love-interest: the Eternal Consort. Their love affair is often doomed because of the interference of the Eternal Enemy, who has manifested in many forms: quite often with dark desires for the Consort. the Enemy has been Yyrkoon, evil cousin of Elric; Frank Cornelius, the evil brother/cousin of Jerry Cornelius; Johannes Klosterheim, who usually appears in more "modern" stories and generally represents a corrupt and depraved figure of apparent order, and sometimes appears as The Dragon or The Starscream to Gaynor; and reaches his epitome as Gaynor, Prince of the Damned. (There is a suggestion that Gaynor is a manifestation of the Eternal Champion who went "wrong" in some way, becoming the Champion's evil counterpart. When Corum tears the helmet from Gaynor's face, it mutates through untold changes and faces - including, briefly, Corum's - before he dies, leaving his Chaos-armour empty).

He strongly dislikes J. R. R. Tolkien's works despite having met him personally and finding him sympathetic on a personal level (although he has also stated that certain accounts have overstated his dislike of Tolkien's works; notably, he did use The Lord of the Rings as a favourable reference point for the inventiveness of Ursula K. Le Guin's The Left Hand of Darkness. However, there is also the essay "Epic Pooh", which spells out what he does dislike about Tolkien's works). He also loathes Robert Heinlein and his ilk. These people's opinions on him are unreported. On the other hand he greatly admires Mervyn Peake and considered the Gormenghast trilogy an unjustly-overlooked masterpiece.

He has also written songs for Blue Öyster Cult and Hawkwind and occasionally performed with the latter band. During his brush with Hawkwind he seems to have befriended Lemmy Kilmister, who later went on to found hard rock/heavy metal seminal ensemble Motörhead. He has dedicated a recently-released Hawkmoon omnibus to "his friend Lemmy".

Some members of Hawkwind helped him record a music album under the name of "Michael Moorcock and the Deep Fix" (in the mid-70s). When, with the advent of Internet, enough fans began pestering him for a reissue he made his own personal copy downloadable from his website (the masters apparently having been forever lost). A CD (Dojo Limited DOJOCD88) was released in 1995, audio source unknown (although the sound quality isn't bad).

He has also written comics plots which have been illustrated by Walt Simonson and contributed a few issues to Alan Moore's Tom Strong.

He is one of a number of writers that Games Workshop and TSR ripped off shamelessly. But Games Workshop had the courage to at least credit him in a backhanded way (and thanks to Michael Moorcock, whose fault all this is).

A longtime fan of Doctor Who, Moorcock was commissioned by the BBC to write a Who novel, The Coming of the Terraphiles, or Pirates of the Second Aether!! (2010).

Lifelong anarchist.

A highly prolific writer, most of his works fit into collections revolving around a particular incarnation of the Eternal Champion; although there are a few stand-alone works. Many of his earlier works were later incorporated into the Eternal Champion mythology.

Some examples of the Eternal Champion works below:

  • The Elric Saga (Elric of Melnibone)
  • The Eternal Champion Saga (Erekosë / John Daker)
  • The History of the Runestaff & Count Brass (Dorian Hawkmoon)
  • Corum (Corum Jhaelen Irsei)
  • The Cornelius Chronicles (Jerry Cornelius)
  • The Dancers at the End of Time (Jherek Carnelian)

  • A Nomad of the Time Streams (Oswald Bastable)
  • Von Bek (various members of the von Bek family)
  • The Second Ether (Jack Karaquazian)
  • Behold the Man & Breakfast in the Ruins (Karl Glogauer)
  • Kane of Old Mars (Michael Kane)

Notable works not part of the Eternal Champion mythology:

  • Behold the Man (Not originally an Eternal Champion novel, it was later retconned in).
  • Gloriana, or, The Unfulfill'd Queen
  • Mother London
  • The Pyat Quartet (a.k.a. Between the Wars)

Michael Moorcock's works provide examples of:

  • Anorgasmia: In Gloriana the titular queen is forever bemoaning the fact that she can't have orgasms, and because of the palace's peculiar acoustics the entire court can hear her. Of course, when she finally does the entire court gets to hear that as well.
  • Anti-Hero: Nearly every one of his main characters pretty much defines a type of anti-hero; covering all variations.
  • Balance Between Order And Chaos: The Eternal Champion exists to maintain the Balance.
  • Blessed with Suck / Cursed with Awesome: Depending on the particular protagonist, they will typically view their situation as one of these two, if not both. The most notable example is Elric's Empathic Weapon; which makes him nearly invincible, able to kill even gods, but also has a tendency to kill his nearest and dearest at every available opportunity.
  • Blue-and-Orange Morality: When morality is not gray or black, many characters and settings tend to have this sort; especially if they're non-human.
  • Both Order and Chaos are Dangerous: In several works, the best end for humanity is to Kill The Gods and be free of their meddling forevermore.
  • Canon Welding: Originally named "The Moorcock Effect". Key early examples in Moorcock's work are:
    • Two of the sections of The Final Programme (the opening section and the third one dealing with the Newman diary) are obvious rewritings in a superspy environment of the early Elric stories "The Dreaming City" and "While the Gods Laugh".
    • The first Erekosë novel, The Eternal Champion, is the most explicit early statement of the Eternal Champion concept and names several of the other versions.
    • The "Agak and Gagak" incident, in which four versions of the Champion are summoned to deal with a threat to the whole Multiverse, is depicted from Hawkmoon's point of view in the novel The Quest for Tanelorn and from Elric's in the novel The Sailor on the Seas of Fate.
    • Later on, The Coming of the Terraphiles is an officially-licensed crossover between Doctor Who and Moorcock's "Second Ether" stories, and explicitly identifies the Doctor as an avatar of the Eternal Champion.
  • Captain Ersatz: In Moorcock's more Steampunk/Dieselpunk-flavoured works, Sir Seaton Begg and Count Zodiac are Captains Ersatz of Sexton Blake and his recurring villain Zenith The Albino. This is partially a Homage acknowledging that Moorcock was originally inspired to make Elric an albino by his fandom for Zenith.
  • Crapsack World: Many characters live here. With the exception of all the iterations of Tanelorn and those wbrief interludes where Law and Chaos are in Balance, the entire Multiverse is crapsack.
  • Crystal Dragon Jesus: The Fireclown. This novel was set to music Moorcock's other collaborator band, the Blue Öyster Cult. Their album Mirrors has "The Great Sun Jester", which is this novel with music. The Fireclown is about a cosmic Messiah who comes to Earth on a mission of love, peace and redemption, preaching, in the words of Douglas Adams, that people should be nicer to each other for a change. Sure enough, the Fireclown ends up being crucified.
  • Damsel in Distress: Several. Examples, Shaarilla of the Dancing Mists, and Cymoril of Melnibone.
  • Determinator: One of the defining characteristics of the Eternal Champion. Also applies to more than a few Sidekicks, enemies, and secondary characters.
  • Deathless and Debauched: The Dancers at the End of Time is set on Earth around the time of the heat death of the universe, when humanity has achieved both immortality and effective individual omnipotence. As a result, the immortal humans of this period are bored out of their mind and constantly compete with each other in extravagance and debauchery, to the point that when the protagonist of the first novella decides to commit to a monogamous relationship for the rest of his (eternal) life, everyone applauds him for his originality.
  • Deus Angst Machina: Mostly due to the actions of the Jerkass Gods mentioned below.
  • Divine Conflict: The "Eternal Champion" stories often feature an endless war between Law and Chaos, as personified by the deity-level Lords of Law and Lords of Chaos. The war includes conflicts between lesser creatures of Law and Chaos as well.
  • Downer Ending: Moorcock is fond of these, especially the Shoot the Shaggy Dog variety.
  • Everyone Is Related: Anybody with the name Bek, Beck or Begg in Moorcock's work is a member of the huge and sprawling Von Bek aristocratic lineage, which exists across multiple universes and many male members of which are alternate versions of Elric. This sometimes extended to renaming characters in 1990s and 2000s reissues of his early work as a form of Canon Welding.
  • From Bad to Worse: Pretty much guaranteed, especially when characters look like they're headed for a good ending.
  • Grey-and-Gray Morality: Often descending into Black-and-Gray Morality.
  • Hypochondria: Huillam d'Averc from the Runestaff books is either a case of this or Playing Sick to make his foes underestimate him.
  • It Sucks to Be the Chosen One: Being the Eternal Champion is not fun. Most are forced into their lives of adventure by the loss of everything they know and have.
  • Jerkass Gods: Regardless of which side of the Order-Chaos divide they're on, they don't really seem to care too much about what happens to their pawns, so long as they do as they're told. The few neutral gods that exist aren't much better.
  • Memetic Mutation: His chaos star symbol became the flag of the eurasian movement in Russia. Hell, the thing's got a Wikipedia page.
  • Money, Dear Boy: He has admitted to writing some of his works (in particular, the first four books of The History of the Runestaff and the first Corum trilogy, each of which was dashed off in under a week per book) simply for quick cash.
    "The Hawkmoon books were written for money and took three days each to do. But I still tried to make them the best I could do of their kind. In the end it's the public who pay me and I feel I owe readers the best value for their money I can produce, irrespective of genre or level of ambition."
  • The Multiverse: The Trope Namer and Trope Codifier for the usage of the Multiverse concept in fiction. He wasn't the one who invented the term itselt, with that honor going to American philosopher and psychologist William James, but James used it in a different context than how its it is commonly understood in the modern era. Moorcock was the first to use the phrase in current physics context and in fiction in his novella The Sundered Worlds.
  • Omnicidal Neutral: Some Eternal Champions end up destroying both sides in order to maintain the Balance.
  • Order Versus Chaos: His work is the Trope Codifier for this in popular culture. Notably, neither side is identified as inherently good or evil, with "good" often manifesting as a balance of the two.
  • Orwellian Retcon:
    • Two different works were edited in later editions because the first editions appeared to endorse rape in certain circumstances and Moorcock was convinced by feminist criticism that this was morally wrong:
      • In the ending of the first edition of Gloriana, Quire successfully gives Gloriana her first ever orgasm and ends the barrenness of her kingdom by raping her. In later editions, when he tries to, she overpowers him and rapes him with the same result.
      • At the end of the first version of "The Transformation of Miss Mavis Ming", the Fireclown cures Mavis of her uptightness and right-wing politics by raping her. In later editions, he does it by whipping her until she has an emotional breakdown, which may or may not be an actual improvement.
    • On a smaller scale, many 1990s and 2000s reprints of early Moorcock works changed the names of certain characters to make them members of the von Bek or Cornelius families, or to turn originally unconnected villains into versions of Johannes Klosterheim or Gaynor the Damned (sometimes also using the latter's pseudonym in more modern or futuristic settings of Paul van/von Minct).
  • Perpetually Protean: This is the condition of recurring villain Gaynor the Damned beneath his armour. At one point, Corum tears his faceplate off to reveal a constantly shifting series of agonized faces, including (briefly) Corum's own.
  • Rage Against the Heavens: A common reaction to the Jerkass Gods.
  • Rape Is a Special Kind of Evil: What did humanity do to set Erekosë/John Daker against them and wipe them out? When humanity started winning against the more advanced Eldren race thanks to Erekosë initially siding with them, they would rape Eldren women and children. And in the Corum stories, Corum is already pissed at humanity for mutilating him and killing his family, when he receives a vision of humans raping his mother and sisters before their murder, he really wants to put humans to the sword (though he gets better about this unlike Erekosë).
  • Resolved Noodle Incident: What exactly Gaynor the Damned did to get horribly cursed was a mystery for decades, before finally being revealed in The Dreamthief's Daughter aka Daughter of Dreams, the first book of the early 2000s Elric trilogy.
  • Shining City: Tanelorn, to the point an eternal stay within the city is the final reward for several incarnations of the Eternal Champion. Elric was the one incarnation to find it himself instead of being led to it, and the one incarnation who chose not to stay.
  • Sidekick: Some notable examples include Moonglum (Elric), Jhary-a-Conel (both Corum and Hawkmoon), and Rakhir (Elric), who also doubles as an incarnation of the Champion.
  • Sliding Scale of Idealism Versus Cynicism: Tending strongly to the cynical side; although a few Champions manage to maintain a fairly strong Idealism despite living in a Crapsack World, most notably Jherek Carnelian, whose idealism actually increases as the situation gets worse.
  • Sliding Scale of Libertarianism and Authoritarianism: As mentioned above, Moorcock is an anarchist, so...
  • Space Isolation Horror: His novel about escaping from a lunatic dying Earth, The Black Corridor, uses this trope repeatedly, in the isolation felt by a crew-member on the escape ship who is doing his twenty-five-years solo stint at flying the ship, attending to emergencies, and seeing nobody dies in suspended animation. This gives him time to brood and go quietly insane. This novel also inspired songs by Hawkwind.
  • Trapped in the Past: Or in the future. Or in the past of a different aspect of the Multiverse. Or in its future which also happens to be the past of our own phase on the Multiverse's. Or of somebody else's phase of the Multiverse. Gods optional, but Cosmic Balance still to be scrupulously maintained.
  • Trauma Conga Line: Inflicted on multiple Eternal Champions with varying effects (usually a Roaring Rampage of Revenge or a Knight in Sour Armor).