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My first contact with Michael Moorcock

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  • My first contact with Michael Moorcock

    Hi, people of Multiverse! :)

    I was remembering:
    My first contact with the Mikeآ´s works was a long years ago, in these stories in which Elric met Conan. That story attracted my attention very much. The plot was very good and more rich, profound and complex than Conanآ´s usual stories. I was impressed with Elric too. He was a character very different of all others I ever had seen... And Stormbringer (which here in Brazil was translated like just "Tempestade" - storm in Portuguese) was a very interesting concept.
    How about you? How was your first contact with Mike Moorcockآ´s Multiverse?

    Multiversally thankful
    Rita Maria Felix da Silva
    State of Pernambuco, Brazil.

  • #2
    I was sixteen, and in Norway with three friends: it was 1984. My chum Andy Horton (a fount of wisdom on erudite literary excursions and obscure musical recordings) gave me his copy of 'Stormbringer' one evening as we sat drinking moonshine gutrot and listening to Dif Juz in a small village called 'Dalen' (there are many of these in Norway). I read half of it there and then. As the night drew on, however, we began to suffer the effects of our indulgence and became inspired with the heroic fantasy that the book contained: we first climbed up a particularly precipitous waterfall (pissed), shouting a range of suitably Melnibonean-sounding battle-cries ('Arioch! Aid Me!' or 'Aagh! This Fern Is Loose!') then went down to the harbour (still pissed) where I became annoyed by my companions' childish desire to untie the mooring-ropes of the small fleet of private vessels there. Going off in a (pissed) huff as the flotilla bobbed away down the valley (yes, the Police did call), I finally found myself crossing a metal bridge over a two-hundred foot drop to the valley below - on the outside, swinging hand-over-hand between the railings. At this point I suddenly sobered up. I finished the book the following day (we didn't get hangovers at that age) then went on to read Warlord OTA, which was much less dangerous.


    • #3
      Re: My first contact with Michael Moorcock

      Originally posted by RitaMaria
      My first contact with the Mikeآ´s works was a long years ago, in these stories in which Elric met Conan. That story attracted my attention very much.
      My first contact was also through the Conan comic but a bit earlier than Conan 14 & 15, the stories in which Conan met Elric. By the time those stories appeared I was already familiar with both Elric and Conan, and very excited by the “team-up.�

      I started seeing the Conan comic when issues 4, 5 and 6 hit the shops in England (there had been limited distribution of issue 3, but I only caught up with issues 1-3 later).

      I totally fell in love with the comic (this would be Spring/Summer 1971, and I was 12 years old).

      Then there was a break (v. frustrating!) until issues 11 and upwards were again imported to the UK.

      I started buying Conan paperbacks in 1971, and in Summer 1971 I found an American paperback with a Conan short story in it, which also had an Elric story. I probably bought it because of the Conan mainly, but also to try out some other writers in the same vein. That was my first ever exposure to Mike's writing. I think it was Kings In Darkness, which is Mike's least favourite Elric story. It was good enough to get me interested. Now I had two sword and sorcery favourites!

      I also started reading Fritz Leiber around that time, and liked the Fafhrd/Grey Mouser stories too.

      But it was the Moorcock series that started to become my real favourites; I devoured all the Elric I could get, plus Corum, Hawkmoon and everything else in my local bookshop. I think I left the Final Programme til last, cos it looked pretty weird, or the least like what I was used to. But then I fell in love with Jerry C too!


      • #4
        Originally posted by Perdix
        I finished the book the following day (we didn't get hangovers at that age) then went on to read Warlord OTA, which was much less dangerous.
        Unless you get the urge to drop very powerful bombs on Japanese cities.

        (Less easy to "act out" I suppose, so probably is safer).

        Great story BTW !


        • #5
          Good question, RitaMaria!
          My first contact was in 1972 or 1973 when I bought a paperback with a strange looking cover at the book shop of a little train station within view of the Alps. It was "The Jewel in the Skull":
          [broken link]

          There's an older thread with more or less the same focus here: [broken link]
          and many Moorcockistas have already told of their initiation, but no problem to go on with this fresh one :lol:
          Last edited by Rothgo; 04-24-2010, 05:38 AM.
          Google ergo sum


          • #6
            first contact with Mr. Moorcock: Mid 80's. My friend went on and on about the "Chronicles of Gor" which of course has nothing to do with Mike. ;) Friend of mine was into reading oodles and gobs of books and we would stay up for hours and chat on the phone, and I got to listening about Elric. Oh.... what a delicious, moody, messed up, heady character he sounded like and i had to go for it, and haven't stopped since. And that was about 1985(?) let me tell you, boys and girls, it was HARD to find Mr. Moorcocks' books in Waldenbooks... IN ORDER! i only wanted to read them in order, that's my thing. finally acquired, (special ordered a month at a time) i got the paperbacks and devoured them. and then corum. and then castle brass. and then... well.. you know. and what i couldn't get in the store, i got at the library.

            have not read the final book yet, though. we're on a tight budget. but in the next couple of weeks i'm going to drown in the last book and ... go where you have been.

            what a thing he's done, what a world! and Mike just takes the biscuit, that's all there is to say. *big hugs*


            • #7
              As an aside, and Re: tight budgets, I still have to take extreme care entering a bookshop. I'm not so bad now (he says...) but I can remember occassions when I would go into a bookshop (especially one of these allegedly Academic bookshops) in Bristol or Leeds, armed with no intention but to browse and a massive overdraft, and still come out with آ£185 worth of books about rotor craft, fossil invertebrates, the archaeology of Devon, The life of Conan Doyle, sea-fishing, a Dr Who retrospective and MM's usually a paperback on WW1 trench warfare or something! Addict! It's the same if I go on 'Amazon'. Lethal.
              I'm not quite as bad now, Doctor, though I still have the massive overdraft, come to think of it :roll: In fact, that's probably why I have the O/D!
              There's also something much more pleasurable in the 'delayed anticipation' of obtaining a book; it's a bit like the emotion that makes those 'partworks' so successful (there's a huge rash of them here at the moment; everything from 'build your own Spitfire' - over 190 weeks - to 'collectable LOTR figurines' to 'Leaves of the World' or some such). Getting them 'in series' and with a gap of anticipatory pleasure is strangely piquant, as Poetgrrl describes. I used to think it would be really great to be able to nip into a bookshop with a thousand quid and get anything and everything you fancied (not that آ£1000 would cover it, these days) but it probably wouldn't be. Be like Elton John and his cars. Too much at once.
              What were we talking about again? :lol: :?


              • #8
                Back in the late paleolithic (mid-'60s - '70), when I was what Perdix would call a wee bairn, I didn't have a lot of spare coin of the realm. (I was, after all, a student.) I would carefully husband my resources, until I'd have $10-$15 (U.S.) whereupon I'd descend on the local bookstores.

                That wasn't a lot of money, so I typically would finish the excursion with a mere 12 -18 new books. Several early Moorcock books were obtained this way. The books bought back then form the lowest fossil layer of my library, these days.

                Of course, these days, I can carry the books purchased for $10 - $15 in one hand, without benefit of a shopping bag. Perhaps I've grown stronger.



                • #9
                  Strange, but I have no strong recollection of my very first encounter with Mike's work... it may well have been "Behold the Man" in some anthology or other in the 1970s while I was at secondary school.

                  The first Moorcock novel I bought was Gloriana in 1978, just before going to university, followed a little later by the Jerry Cornelius Quartet.

                  It was only after leaving university, in 1985, that I started reading any of the Eternal Champion books...

                  I think I'm living my life backwards.



                  • #10
                    I think I've posted the basic gist of my getting started with Mike's oeuvre before, but since I can't resist telling it again, here's the Letts Notes version. :)

                    It's early 1980s - I'm at High School but haven't sat my GCEs or CSEs yet, so we're probably talking 1982-83 - and I'm heavily into D&D together with a small coterie of schoolmates. We've been interested in fantasy ever since a teacher read The Hobbit to us in class when we were 9. I'm also an avid listener to Radio 1 (ah those were the days) and one evening after school I catch (what I now recall was) a indepth interview with some guy called Michael Moorcock. Alas some 20 years on I no longer recall what was said in the interview. :( Anyway, whatever it was, it was enough to spur me into the school library to see if they had any of Mike's books.

                    To my delight they did: the White Lion hardback editions of the Hawkmoon tetralogy. I read them avidly, delighting in the evocative descriptions that Mike wove into his tales. Soon all my fellow D&D'ers were reading them as well, but we quickly exhausted the library's (small) collection of Moorcockania. Luckily, myself and a pal were both pupil librarians so we were able to persuade the School Librarian to order in more of Mike's books whenever she was putting an order in.

                    At the same time, I was using the local public libraries as my other source of getting hold of the books. Among the hardback books I found there were 'The Condition of Muzak' (which I unfortunately couldn't get into at the time), 'The Brothel of Rosenstrasse' and the 'The Opium General'.

                    It wasn't until I went on to sixth form college and had a Saturday job that I began earning enough money to begin buying my own copies of Mike's work. And the first thing I bought? It was Grafton's 'The History of the Runestaff' omnibus edition. :) There quickly followed Elric, Corum, Bastable, and others.

                    Since it was now my own money that was financing this habit, I soon established it was often cheaper to buy the omnibus editions rather than the individual volumes. The exception to this was the Elric novels that at the time were still only available as single books. I remember that it seemed like it took forever for us to get hold of copies of 'Elric of Melnibone' through our local bookshop. We looked through the very long lists of other books by Mike in the paperbacks we bought, and made regular treks to the book shop trying to find out what was still availble. As I recall 'The Swords of Heaven, The Flowers of Hell' was one of the ones we could never get hold of. (I finally managed to get a copy many years later at a Comic Convention in London.)

                    At some point, between Sixth Form and University I picked up a copy of 'The Lives and Times of Jerry Cornelius' and became fascinated by this character who Mike seemed happy to let other writers play with. This 'hands off' concept was mind-blowing - if other people could write JC stories, maybe I could write one as well? I was aware - perhaps naively - of some of the literary devices that Mike seemed to employ within his stories, the use of newspaper headlines or extracts that seemed unrelated to the immediate story and yet enhanced it in a way I couldn't put my finger on. (Were they genuine or made-up? I still don't know.:?) Eventually, I gathered a sufficient number of suitable press cuttings and made a start on my very own JC story: 'Up the Down Escalator'. I continued to work on this and number of other JC stories that would (I hoped) one day make up what I called 'The Last Testament of Jerry Cornelius - An Apocrypha'.

                    A few years later I had the good fortune to be able to go along to a reading Mike did for his (then) new Pyat novel (Jersualem Commands) - which was interrupted shortly after Mike started reading, by the Good Colonel himself, who then proceeded to read from his memoirs personally! A fabulous evening and I count myself lucky to have been there. Afterwards, I was able to give Mike a copy of my own attempt at a JC story (this must have been before the days when he stopped looking at unsolicited manuscripts and the like, I guess) and to my delight some time later I received a postcard from Mike (just before he was due to set out his travels somewhere) with his thoughts on the story. Overall (iirc) he thought it had promise but should be more larconic. (I admit now I had to look the word up to find out what it meant! LOL) He went onto mention that Langdon Jones was putting together a new edition of the Nature of the Catastrophe - would I like him (Mike) to submit the story to LJ for consideration? Alas! Being a postcard it didn't have any contact details for Mike and although I subsequently searched the public libraries records to see if I could find any agent's details for Mike I was unable to, and so I missed the boat. (This was in the days before the Internet and places like '' or 'Moorcock's Miscellany' were created. :() The manuscript and its subsequent (draft) installments still reside (together with Mike's card) in a cardboard box that has since moved house four or five times now. Perhaps one day I should dig them out and let other people here have a chance to read them?

                    Anyway, during and after university I spent many an hour travelling up to Central London to scour the Charing Cross second-hand bookshops, looking for rare and out-of-print Moorcock paperbacks. The Haberfield Mayflower editions were (still are) a particular range I wanted to collect individually. Occasionally I'd come across something "esoteric" like 'My Experiences in the Third World War' or 'The Great Rock'n'Roll Swindle'. (I'm stilling for 'The Retreat from Liberty' - saw a copy on eBay the other month but couldn't afford it.)

                    The acquistion of a car - and a wife who also enjoys hunting through 2nd-hand shops :) - meant I was able to journey further afield to places like Hay-on-Wye to further fill in the gaps in my Moorcock collection. With one thing and another, although I was still looking for copies of Mike's older books, his newer works passed me by (perhaps something to do with not all of them being published in the UK - any reason for this, btw?). The last books I bought on original publication were probably the Second Ether trade paperbacks.

                    Then the Internet came along, and eBay, and suddenly it was so much easier to find stuff - paperbacks that had eluded me for years, like 'City in the Autumn Stars' and 'The Opium General' became accessible. Just this very morning I took delivery of hardback copies of 'The Dreamthief's Daughter' and 'The Skrayling Tree' won on eBay from a seller in the States! :D (Now I just have to request WWS for my birthday in a couple of months.)

                    Recently, I've started spending more time at this site and so I feel like I've come full circle and I'm beginning to re-read those original Hawkmoon books again. The fact that Mike makes himself so readily available to his readers though these forums just confirms my instinct to pick up on that original radio interview all those decades ago and dedicate so much of my life to reading and collecting this man's work.

                    Mike - from the bottom of my heart - I thank you for the many literary journeys you've taken me on since those early days. (I'm still waiting for 'Vengence of Rome' btw though. :lol: )

                    _"For an eternity Allard was alone in an icy limbo where all the colours were bright and sharp and comfortless.
                    _For another eternity Allard swam through seas without end, all green and cool and deep, where distorted creatures drifted, sometimes attacking him.
                    _And then, at last, he had reached the real world – the world he had created, where he was God and could create or destroy whatever he wished.
                    _He was supremely powerful. He told planets to destroy themselves, and they did. He created suns. Beautiful women flocked to be his. Of all men, he was the mightiest. Of all gods, he was the greatest."


                    • #11
                      Mr demos99, sir! There is a strange frisson of child-like excitement that grips me when a rock cleaves to expose a well-preserved and rare fossil, or I find a long-sought and never-before seen book in the decaying clutter of some dusty shop, or the fibreglass tip of my deep-sea rod quivers in trembling transmission of some unknowable leviathan's nosing of the bait countless fathoms below...

                      I confess that reading of your cardboard box of ancient JC manuscript gives me a flush of this sensation.

                      Would it be a possibility for an issue(s) of PX, I wonder.....? :roll:


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Perdix
                        I confess that reading of your cardboard box of ancient JC manuscript gives me a flush of this sensation.

                        Would it be a possibility for an issue(s) of PX, I wonder.....? :roll:
                        Mr Perdix sir, I'm sure something could come of this, if you so wish (and Mike doesn't object). :)

                        You must bear in mind that everything was written in the pre-Windows age, so all I have are the hardcopy print outs and some manuscript pages, so it will all have to be re-keyed before it could be submitted.

                        As I recall, only the first story (which I gave Mike to critique) was actually completed, everything else remained in a state of 'work-in-progress'. I had an overarching arc mentally planned, so when read as a whole the stories would give some semblance of an plot, but this was all some 18 years ago, so some of the details may have been lost. We shall see.

                        There is also the question of whether I revise the works or leave as they were when originally compiled and attempt to complete what I can as best I'm able (assuming there is any demand to complete this project). I had always intended to go back to the project one day and attempt to finish it for my own satisfaction, rather than with any thought that it might reach a wider audience. I think when I originally started I lacked the experience to make a sufficient go of it. With a more mature (though not necessarily wiser) head maybe things will be different this time round? I suspect some revision will be necessary in any case.

                        Still, one step at a time, eh? Let's not run before we can walk. I mean, for all we know it may be the sort of teenage literature that deserves to be be eaten by rats from Ladbrook Grove. ;)
                        _"For an eternity Allard was alone in an icy limbo where all the colours were bright and sharp and comfortless.
                        _For another eternity Allard swam through seas without end, all green and cool and deep, where distorted creatures drifted, sometimes attacking him.
                        _And then, at last, he had reached the real world – the world he had created, where he was God and could create or destroy whatever he wished.
                        _He was supremely powerful. He told planets to destroy themselves, and they did. He created suns. Beautiful women flocked to be his. Of all men, he was the mightiest. Of all gods, he was the greatest."


                        • #13
                          Ah, let the fond memories come flooding back...

                          The whole truth shall be revealed here, at last!

                          When I was just a small child, age 10 or so I should think, I was only into comics, horror movies, and Mego dolls (now called action figures, and Mego, I believe was their name, sold dolls for boys, replica's of American Marvel and DC superheroes. I had the originals, the ones where Batman's mask was removable, and so one could play World's Finest and have Batman and Superman switch identities to crack the case, just like in some storylines of the late 1970's). Pocket Books began releasing mass market sized paperback, color reprints of certain Marvel comics, and I had the Conan ones (I bought all of them I could find, really), which included the famous meeting of albino and barbarian. But it didn't strike any chord with my childlike mind.

                          I do recall for one of my birthdays that I asked for certain volumes of these reprint collections from my godfather. He ended up giving me the ACE Conan novels, but with corresponding volume numbers to the Pocket book editions. I was severely disappointed, since I wasn't reading novels at the time. But this mistake, well after my bout of deep depression, led me to the works of actual Conan sources, plus the Sprange de Camp "collaborations."

                          A few years later, I recall reading a strange comic featuring Adam Warlock, written and drawn by Jim Starlin. Adam Warlock was basically a cosmic "Elric" with a very similiar doom as Mike's characters, although on a cosmic, space-faring journey (with a healthy dose of Jungian archetypes thrown in).

                          In high school, several years later one of my classmates kept urging me to read the Elric series. I recall vividly, during art class whereas the teacher was preaching the joys and wonders of The Lord of the Rings to any and all. But still I didn't listen.

                          Finally in a bid to rid myself of my comic book addiction, I joined the Science Fiction Book Club to switch gears into reading more print fiction in novel format. I was intrigued by the Rowena cover to War Hound and the World's Pain and decided to give it a try.

                          I loved it! And so I ordered the SFBC's editions of The Elric series, two volumes, and soon I was addicted anew. At the time, there was no deficit of Moorcock books at the local bookshops, for new editions of all of his work was "flooding the market" next to the Gor novels and Edgar Rice Burroughs (who I was intoduced to in high school as well, and was still reading as much as I could, and between ERB and R.E. Howard, I had poo-pooed the Elric books). But soon all were mine as soon as I saw them.

                          And the rest is history... as is the multiverse, sad to say.




                          • #14
                            You must do it, demos99! It sounds like a runner, esp if MM rated your original piece. I have a vague idea for a future Prototype consisting entirely of stories of 'heroes and villains' - both original chap/esses and 'icons' like JC, Sherlock, Don Quixote, Poirot...I dunno, anyone like that. So that's a possibility...


                            • #15
                              My first encounter with Mike's work was in the late eighties when I was about 10 years old. My father was a big sci-fi and fantasy buff and read a lot of books. He'd go to a used bookstore nearby about once a week and buy several books. I'd usually end up reading them after he finished. One day I was browsing his bookshelf and ended up picking the first Elric book. I remember that he was hesitant at first to let me read it. But he gave in and I quickly devoured the whole series, followed by the Corum books and The Ice Schooner, which my dad also had.

                              I had to have more, so I soon began building my own collection. By my teenage years Moorcock had developed into a firm favorite of mine, and when I read The Cornelius Chronicles in high school that pretty much established his place at the top of my list. Since then, I've read almost all of his other works of fiction and continued with each one to be more impressed by how rich, organic, and real a whole these various parts comprise.

                              The more of Mike's books that you read, the more the experience of them changes as you begin to become more familiar with the ins and outs of the multiverse. Finish 20-30 of them and then go back and re-read some of the ones you started with and whole new levels of the story are revealed.

                              Anyway, great thread idea. It's interesting to hear how all the different people here came to share a common interest.