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Stoker program book essay

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  • Stoker program book essay

    Hello:

    I served on the Lifetime Achievement jury this year for HWA. As I was the juror who first suggested Mr. Moorcock for the award, I had the pleasure of writing the LAA essay for the Stoker Award program book. There's been some discussion here about the award, so I thought I'd share the essay with you:


    “Category definitions in the arts are destructive,� Michael Moorcock notes in the most recent edition of Wizardry and Wild Romance (2004), “both of the thing they try to describe and of the aspiration of the artist.� And throughout his long and prolific career, Moorcock has demonstrated the stunning results that can be achieved by ignoring or, better yet, actively subverting the constraints of category. Remarkable works such as Behold the Man (1968), The Black Corridor (1969), Stormbringer (1977), and Mother London (1988) freely combine elements of horror, SF, fantasy, and the literary novel. These original creations reflect Moorcock’s passion and his vision, not the marketplace’s worn and predictable concerns. They are stories that embrace tension and openly reject the sober coddling served up by so much popular fiction. They are tales intended to unsettle, designed to undermine generic expectations and present the reader with something much more disturbing—and rewarding.

    Moorcock’s fantasies in particular distinguish themselves from the consolatory works of Tolkien and Lewis. As the narrator introduces himself in the early pages of The War Hound and the World’s Pain (1981), casually detailing the torture and treachery he has inflicted upon enemies and allies, bystanders and household animals alike, we realize that we’ve wandered into a part of Elfland far from the neatly manicured lawns where Gandalf and Aslan sip tea and murmur stodgily about how nice things had been, once upon a time, and how nice they will be again, once those unwashed, heathen orcs are banished from the suburbs. The landscapes through which Graf Ulrich von Bek travels are more complicated than those of Middle Earth or Narnia, and are populated by characters both complex and surprising. Von Bek’s quest will not conclude with the typical restoration of a rightful king or the reassuring destruction of a cursed artifact that sends the terrible armies scrambling back to their carefully mapped ghettos. In Moorcock’s dark fantasies, the artifacts have an upsetting tendency to defend themselves more actively from annihilation, and the quest’s conclusion will reveal many more questions—difficult, unpleasant questions—than it resolves. The terrible armies never go away because it’s just as likely the questing hero has been part of their ranks from time to time.

    The influence Moorcock has exerted upon writers of dark fantasy and horror through his extensive, genre-busting catalogue—more than eighty fiction and non-fiction titles—would be reason enough for HWA to recognize him with the Lifetime Achievement Award, but he’s also influenced storytellers as editor of the groundbreaking magazine New Worlds and, more recently, as a critic and essayist for The Guardian and The Spectator. In both these guises he’s encouraged writers to find new ways to tell stories, while reminding them of the best work from other worthy artists, from Mervyn Peake to J.G. Ballard to Jonathan Carroll, writers, like Moorcock himself, who recognize that pain and terror can be important tools for the artist, especially when tempered by a fundamental compassion for human beings.

    The awards that grace his shelves reveal just how successful Michael Moorcock has been in creating a body of work that transcends easy category definition. He’s received a BSFA Award, a Nebula Award, an August Derleth Award, a British Fantasy Award, and a John W. Campbell Award. But his work has also earned the Guardian Fiction Prize and been short-listed for Britain’s most prestigious literary award, the Whitbread. He’s been inducted into the Science Fiction Hall of Fame and been recognized for his lifetime achievement with a World Fantasy Award in 2000 and the Prix Utopiales, in Nantes, France, in 2004. And now, with the Stoker Award, for demonstrating myriad new ways in which horror and dark fantasy writers might approach their chosen subject, and for challenging those aspiring artists to transcend the limitations of genre and forge their fiction in more personal fires.

    — James Lowder

  • #2
    Re: Stoker program book essay

    A fine essay, but...

    Originally posted by JLowder
    ... Stormbringer (1977) ...
    About 12 years too late: the novel (or fix-up) was first published by Herbet Jenkins in 1965.

    Cordialement,
    Ant

    Comment


    • #3
      True Ant, but in a spirit of pedantry the date is correct for the revised and expanded edition of Stormbringer that was first published in 1977.

      Thanks for the essay by the way, James. :)
      'You know, I can't keep up with you. If I hadn't met you in person, I quite honestly would NOT believe you really existed. I just COULDN'T. You do so MUCH... if half of what goes into your zines is to be believed, you've read more at the age of 17 than I have at the age of 32 - LOTS more'

      Archie Mercer to Mike (Burroughsania letters page, 1957)

      Comment


      • #4
        Originally posted by Aral Vilsn
        True Ant, but in a spirit of pedantry the date is correct for the revised and expanded edition of Stormbringer that was first published in 1977.
        So, have I got this right?

        These editions of Stormbringer:

        [broken link][broken link]

        dated 1968 and 1976 respectively, are different from this edition of Strombringer:

        [broken link]

        dated 1985?

        Just wondering because I've got the '76 and '85 editions and kind of assumed they where the same. (I read the '85 edition when I bought it but I only picked up the Mayflower edition a few years ago, and it still languishes unread at the moment.)
        Last edited by Rothgo; 04-24-2010, 05:42 AM.
        _"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."

        Comment


        • #5
          Yes, Demos. As per Mike's note inside the 1985 edition, the previous editions (including the Jenkins and Mayflower etc.) had a quarter of the text cut from them. Mike revised Stormbringer from the original magazine stories and restored what had been cut for the earlier editions. Except one little bit (not sure which), that got included in the revision for the Millenium/White Wolf editions.
          'You know, I can't keep up with you. If I hadn't met you in person, I quite honestly would NOT believe you really existed. I just COULDN'T. You do so MUCH... if half of what goes into your zines is to be believed, you've read more at the age of 17 than I have at the age of 32 - LOTS more'

          Archie Mercer to Mike (Burroughsania letters page, 1957)

          Comment


          • #6
            Originally posted by Aral Vilsn
            True Ant, but in a spirit of pedantry the date is correct for the revised and expanded edition of Stormbringer that was first published in 1977. ...
            Absoultely right, Aral, but, even more pedantically, unless you qualify it - e.g., Stormbringer (rev. ed. 1977) - a bibliographical date should be of the original book publication. :twisted: What date would you cite for Gloriana?

            Forgive the nit-picking, James; it doesn't detract from the essay. Perhaps Berry would like to republish it here on the Author Bio page?

            Cordialement,
            Ant

            PS. James, are you this James Lowder?

            Comment


            • #7
              Originally posted by Aral Vilsn
              True Ant, but in a spirit of pedantry the date is correct for the revised and expanded edition of Stormbringer that was first published in 1977.

              Thanks for the essay by the way, James. :)
              Happy to share it. And, yes, I thought the date for the revised/expanded '77 edition of Stormbringer was the one to cite in this context.

              Were the essay appearing in an encyclopedia, I would have worried more about the format of the citations. But I am, of course, more than happy to revise my file to fix any mistakes you catch.

              Cheers,
              Jim Lowder

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by JLowder
                ... And, yes, I thought the date for the revised/expanded '77 edition of Stormbringer was the one to cite in this context. ...
                Was this the first U.S. publication? If you're U.S. based, maybe 1977 is the "obvious" date to cite, but it just struck me as wrong... hey-ho. :?

                Gr.,
                Ant

                PS. Jim, still waiting to hear if you are this James Lowder?!

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by Ant
                  PS. Jim, still waiting to hear if you are this James Lowder?!
                  That's me, though the Fantastic Fiction list is in need of several corrections and additions.

                  Cheers,
                  Jim Lowder

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Ant
                    Originally posted by JLowder
                    ... And, yes, I thought the date for the revised/expanded '77 edition of Stormbringer was the one to cite in this context. ...
                    Was this the first U.S. publication? If you're U.S. based, maybe 1977 is the "obvious" date to cite, but it just struck me as wrong... hey-ho. :?
                    I'm pretty sure the Lancer PB was the first US edition; the one seen here:

                    [link expired]

                    This is the same text as the Herbert Jenkins UK HB first as far as I know (?) i.e the text that was cut a fair bit.

                    Strange (and annoying to Mike I would think) that Granada continued to reprint the Jenkins text all those years (1977 to 1983 or 84) after Mike had revised the book back to longer form, more true to his own intentions.

                    I just checked the handsome Gollancz / Fantasy Masterworks Elric edition (2001 – collects Stealer Of Souls and Stormbringer, i.e. the original saga as published in Science Fantasy in the 60s) and happily this contains the 1977 version of Stormbringer.

                    Which leads me to plug the same series’s edition of The Broken Sword by Poul Anderson; in this case they have gone back to original text, not the 70s revision. MM recommends the original text and cites it as an influence on Elric, of course. And a bloody good read it is too.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by GuyLawley
                      ... I'm pretty sure the Lancer PB was the first US edition; the one seen here:
                      [link expired]...
                      Of course! The edition with... the hat.

                      Originally posted by GuyLawley
                      ... Which leads me to plug the same series’s edition of The Broken Sword by Poul Anderson; in this case they have gone back to original text, not the 70s revision. MM recommends the original text and cites it as an influence on Elric, of course. And a bloody good read it is too.
                      Ah, must add that to my wishlist!

                      Gr.,
                      Ant

                      Comment


                      • #13
                        Originally posted by Ant
                        Originally posted by Aral Vilsn
                        True Ant, but in a spirit of pedantry the date is correct for the revised and expanded edition of Stormbringer that was first published in 1977. ...
                        Absoultely right, Aral, but, even more pedantically, unless you qualify it - e.g., Stormbringer (rev. ed. 1977) - a bibliographical date should be of the original book publication. :twisted: What date would you cite for Gloriana?

                        Forgive the nit-picking, James; it doesn't detract from the essay. Perhaps Berry would like to republish it here on the Author Bio page?

                        Cordialement,
                        Ant

                        PS. James, are you this James Lowder?
                        I don't have the time, right now, to update that bio page. I don't even have an estimate!
                        The cat spread its wings and flew high into the air, hovering to keep pace with them as they moved cautiously toward the city. Then, as they climbed over the rubble of what had once been a gateway and began to make their way through piles of weed-grown masonry, the cat flew to the squat building with the yellow dome upon its roof. It flew twice around the dome and then came back to settle on Jhary's shoulder. - The King of the Swords

                        Comment

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