Michael Moorcock, Elric and, yes, Me

MICHAEL MOORCOCK, who has recently turned 75 is one of my literary heroes partly because he started writing pulp — he wrote some Edgar Rice Burroughs pastiches to start out and, as I recall, he said he wrote them on amphetamine! Like, a novel a week! But he soon got over that writing habit (I think he switched to pots of tea) and went on to write more resonant pulp / genre works, like the Elric books, and innovative works like the Jerry Cornelius books and the Dancers at the End of Time series–a favorite of mine. He helped launch the important New Wave in science fiction and as editor he re-launched the very influential magazine New Worlds. He wrote a fine award winning novella that atheists should prize: Behold the Man. . . And then he made the leap into big serious fantasy and historical fiction crossovers with a political slant and began to be taken seriously by mainstream critics. The fact that he could make this journey delights me. “He’s one who escaped the ghetto”. (When I was a mere stripling of a science fiction writer I heard many sf writers grumble about the science-fiction / fantasy “ghetto” in publishing). But even now he will also write his artful pulp when he chooses.

When I was young I corresponded a bit with Moorcock. The letters were lost in one of my many moves (unless one of my exes has them?) …I remember he said, after reading my first two novels, “I see that, like me, you write on adrenaline.” Yes indeed. Anyway, he was not only kind to me he was inspirational to me.

And he and I are members of a small exclusive club: writers who have written lyrics for the Blue Oyster Cult! He wrote songs like Black Blade and Veteran of the Psychic Wars for them…

I do admire Elric still and I once pitched some ideas for an Elric movie to Paramount…they never got around to making it with any writer. Probably couldn’t get past the albino thing… I wanted to have Val Kilmer (who was young then) play him in white makeup and with contact lenses…

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