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Chaotic Lives
An Interview with Michael Moorcock

conducted by Sandy Auden

Michael Moorcock
Michael Moorcock has published over 70 novels in all genres. These include several series that share, to different extents, a common multiverse: the Cornelius Chronicles, The Dancers at the End of Time, Erekose, The Books of Corum, Hawkmoon: The Chronicles of Castle Brass, Hawkmoon: The History of the Runestaff and the classic Elric of Melnibone Saga. He has also edited an anthology of late Victorian science fiction, Before Armageddon. Under the pen name E.P. Bradbury, he published a series of novel-length pastiches of Edgar Rice Burroughs' Barsoom novels.

Moorcock was born in London in 1939 and began writing, illustrating, editing and printing fanzines under the MJM Publications imprint at a young age. He became the editor of Tarzan Adventures at 16 (some sources say 17), and later the Sexton Blake Library. In 1964 he became the radical editor of the experimental and frequently controversial British SF magazine New Worlds.

A multiple winner of the British Fantasy Award, Moorcock is also a World Fantasy Award and John W. Campbell Memorial Award winner for his novel Gloriana. He won the 1967 Nebula Award for his novella "Behold the Man." He has twice won the Derleth Award for Fantasy (for The Sword and the Stallion, and The Hollow Lands), and the Guardian Fiction Prize (1977) for The Condition of Muzak. He has been shortlisted for both the Booker and Whitbread prizes, Britain's most prestigious literary awards. Moorcock currently lives in London, Spain and Texas. Moorcock has also recorded music, both solo and with the progressive rock group, Hawkwind.

ISFDB Bibliography
SF Site Review: The Dreamthief's Daughter
SF Site Review: Gloriana or the Unfulfilled Queen
SF Site Review: Behold the Man
SF Site Review: Michael Moorcock's Multiverse
SF Site Review: The War Amongst the Angels
SF Site Review: The Dancers at the End of Time
SF Site Review: Kane of Old Mars
SF Site Review: Sailing to Utopia
Michael Moorcock Interview
Michael Moorcock's Musical Contributions
Bio-bibliography: Michael Moorcock
Bibliography: Michael Moorcock
Vote for your favourite Moorcock novel
Michael Moorcock Tribute Site
Michael Moorcock Tribute Site
Elric of Melnibone site

© Michael Moorcock
Michael Moorcock
Every story is an extension of the writer's psyche.

Every story illuminates a dark recess or expresses a heartfelt opinion.

Michael Moorcock may not physically reflect Elric's red eyes and albino colouring, but you will find his echoes reverberating through the Eternal Champion under the surface...

'A lot of my work is really about is Law and Chaos,' says Moorcock. 'About common sense and romanticism, and finding a balance between the two. Both aspects are strong impulses in me, so it's no surprise that they come out in my work.'

'I'm naturally given to plunge into all kinds of things, though maybe less so these days. Linda, my wife, is the same. We'll go places that most people would be too scared to go. If we're travelling abroad, we'll wind up in the dark alleys rather than on the brightly lit boulevard. You'll find much more interesting stuff in the dark alleys, you'll actually have real experiences if you do that. If you travel and just stay with the tour company you're not going to see much.

'That's what attracted us to each other. We both enjoyed taking risks. I don't want to overstate it though, cause it sounds sort of, bullshit really, but that's what we were like. As a result we got to meet all sorts of people and we heard all kinds of stories. You end up with a much better idea of how the world works and what the broad mass of people are really experiencing.

'And for a writer, particularly a writer of imaginative work, there's always a tendency to put yourself in an ivory tower and write about things as they should be rather than things as they are. I prefer to write versions of things as they are. So when I'm writing about the Eternal Champion, I'm saying this is you and me. That it's actually a lot harder to face the ordinary problems of life, such as the landlord, than it is to face a fire-breathing dragon. That the same kind of courage is always required of you. Although one isn't actually the same quality as the other. In fact, you might prefer the experience of a fire breathing dragon than dealing with the landlord!'

Moorcock's stories always see Elric, with help from his sword Stormbringer, restoring the balance between Chaos and Law. So does Moorcock also have a less chaotic side to him? 'I've brought up three kids,' he says. 'And I think I did it fairly responsibly. But I suppose I was indulging Chaos and Law in my life at the same time really. One day I'd be climbing out of my car onto the roof while it was going along the road, cause I felt like a breath of air (I wasn't driving by the way!); next day, I'd be making sure I got the kids to school.

'There's never been much division between the two sides of me. I just decided when I was very young, that I was not going to let the world frighten me into a corner. And yet at the same time I had the perfectly ordinary desire to live a perfectly ordinary life. I think there's a lot to be said for that normal life, but personally, I've never lived a particularly cautious life. It's not possible, I'd get bored to quickly. Yet at the same time I think I've lived a fairly sensible life, when required. I haven't been perfect by any means, I've been pretty imperfect really, but I've done my best. I've always managed to pay my mortgage and that sort of thing while living a financially reckless life. But if you've got a facility, as I have, for writing pretty fast, you can usually catch up on yourself if things start to go very bad.

'I'm just not a person who's going to avoid experience, but at the same time, I don't want anyone to get harmed by me making those sort of explorations. All through my fantasy novels you've got the constant searching for equilibrium until the Eternal Champion becomes fundamentally a champion not for Law or Chaos, but a champion of Equilibrium, of both. That's something that has developed as my own ordinary human wisdom has developed.'

Moorcock's eleven stories of Elric, the Eternal Champion have been recently optioned by Universal Studios.

(This interview first appeared on Sci Fi Channel Europe.)

Copyright © 2005 by Sandy Auden

Sandy Auden is currently working as an enthusiastic reviewer for SFX magazine; a tireless news hound for Starburst magazine; a diligent interviewer/reviewer for The Third Alternative and Interzone magazines and a combination of all the above for The Alien Online. She spends her spare time lying down with a cold flannel on her forehead. Visit her site at The Auden Interviews.

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