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Who knew that James Colvin was MM?

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  • Who knew that James Colvin was MM?

    Mike, I've just finished reading the serialised version of The Wrecks of Time that appeared in NW 156-8 as credited to James Colvin, and I just wondered how or when did it become generally know (ie by your readers) that Colvin was your pseudonym?

    Having read The Sundered Worlds, The Wrecks of Time and The Shores of Death within (fairly) recent months, I see they have several ideas and themes in common - particularly the threat of the extinction of the human race - and, of course, now they obviously seem to be the work of the same author. But I wonder whether there were readers who sussed that you and Colvin were one and the same, or whether it came as a shock to any Colvin-fans to discover they were really your readers instead?
    _"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."

  • #2
    The initials "JC" do seem to recur, do they not?
    Miqque
    ... just another sailor on the seas of Fate, dogpaddling desperately ...

    Comment


    • #3
      To be honest, David, I don't remember a single letter sussing me as Colvin.
      Problems came later when people took offence at criticism under the name of Colvin which by then had become a New Worlds house name.
      It was useful to have such a name,though Charles Platt scotched it by killing Colvin off in a New Worlds obit I didn't know about until the issue appeared (Charles being the art editor and having final control over what when in!).
      James Colvin was not originally my invention, but Carnell's, who always used the ABC Railway Guide for names he gave to authors he felt had too many stories inthe inventory. As I recall there was one Colvin and two Moorcock items in one particular issue of Science Fantasy. My choice of name was James Mendoza, because the great boxer Mendoza is said to be one of my family's ancestors.
      JCs are largely unconscious. And, of course, John Carnell didn't emply John Clute as a critic. I did. Jim Cawthorn did SOME covers for Science Fantasy but mainly worked on NW as an illustrator. John Coulthart, who designs for Savoy (among others) is someone I thoroughly enjoy working with and I enjoy listening to the music of John Coltrane and June Carter.
      Maybe our Christian society works on our parents' unconscious. I didn't even realise Joseph Kiss and Jack Karaquazian were variations until it was pointed out to me. Of course Balzac's great recurring villain is Jacques Collin and I've started a story called Jock Collin's Rules. I sometimes feel a strong bond with Balzac (not that I'm suggesting I'm the great man's equal) and I think I understand how he came to use recurring characters from novel to novel. It happens unconsciously, but those characters are carrying narratives with them --- narratives which you might wish to revisit and can do so, sometimes briefly -- whatever's necessary -- and reinforce the threads of argument or examination of complex moral questions. There's no point in inventing the same character under a different name unless it's done consciously. It's a strange impulse.
      When I'm dead, someone will sort it all out.

      Pre-order or Buy my latest titles in Europe:
      The Whispering Swarm: Book One of the Sanctuary of the White Friars - The Laughter of Carthage - Byzantium Endures - London Peculiar and Other Nonfiction
      Doctor Who: The Coming of the Terraphiles - Kizuna: Fiction for Japan - Modem Times 2.0 - The Sunday Books - The Sundered Worlds


      Pre-order or Buy my latest titles in the USA:
      The Laughter of Carthage - Byzantium Endures - London Peculiar and Other Nonfiction - The Sunday Books - Doctor Who: The Coming of the Terraphiles
      Kizuna: Fiction for Japan - The Sundered Worlds - The Winds of Limbo - Modem Times 2.0 - Elric: Swords and Roses

      Comment


      • #4
        Not a nice thought. I've lost enough of my heroes thank you.

        Comment


        • #5
          Thanks for that Mike. I hadn't realised that the Colvin obit in NW 197 was Charles Platt's handiwork (mainly as it was credited to 'William Barclay'). Was there a definite point between when you were reviewing as Colvin and he became a house name for other reviewers or did it just happen gradually over time?
          _"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


          • #6
            Originally posted by David Mosley
            Thanks for that Mike. I hadn't realised that the Colvin obit in NW 197 was Charles Platt's handiwork (mainly as it was credited to 'William Barclay').
            Nor me. I think has usually been credited to Mike previously. I'd like to extend the question to include the Compact Edward P Bradbury Mars books and the Bill Barclay books (Somewhere In The Night and Printer's Devil, later revised/reprinted as The Chinese Agent and The Russian Intelligence). The Barclay books include a character called Chief Inspector Moorcock so I wondered if readers cottoned on early that they were by you, or whether they thought it was some sort of tribute by one of the Compact writers. Also, whether the Moorcock reference was intended as a clue to the reader or just a private joke.

            And on the subject of pseudonyms, a Tarzan Adventures repro I recently obtained has the Klan The Spoiler story credited to 'J. R. Taylor', 'based on one of Mike's characters'
            Last edited by Marca; 08-27-2006, 05:43 AM.
            '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


            • #7
              I think it was generally known by my readers who'd be interested in such things that those were my pseudonyms. They were also used occasionally in Golden Nugget magazine. In fact Barclay and Bradbury were essentially Compact/Gold Star pseudonyms used when working for them.
              J.R.Taylor is essentially my mother's name! Not the R. I'm not sure where that came from!
              I probably had too many stories in that sequence of issues or else I was thinking of starting another series. Honestly can't remember at this late stage.

              Pre-order or Buy my latest titles in Europe:
              The Whispering Swarm: Book One of the Sanctuary of the White Friars - The Laughter of Carthage - Byzantium Endures - London Peculiar and Other Nonfiction
              Doctor Who: The Coming of the Terraphiles - Kizuna: Fiction for Japan - Modem Times 2.0 - The Sunday Books - The Sundered Worlds


              Pre-order or Buy my latest titles in the USA:
              The Laughter of Carthage - Byzantium Endures - London Peculiar and Other Nonfiction - The Sunday Books - Doctor Who: The Coming of the Terraphiles
              Kizuna: Fiction for Japan - The Sundered Worlds - The Winds of Limbo - Modem Times 2.0 - Elric: Swords and Roses

              Comment


              • #8
                Mike, sorry to keep pestering you on long ago used pseudonyms, but a repro of the Christmas Book Collectors News I have that was issued to Nomads members includes an article on Zenith The Albino credited to 'J M Taylor'. This is very similar to the J R Taylor you used in Tarzan Adventures, so I'm wondering if it was written by you? I tried to nail this one with John Davey, but he said he wasn't sure himself. Any idea? If it is you, it's an interesting prelude to the creation of Elric.
                '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


                • #9
                  I suspect it has to be me. All the evidence points to it (reversed initials and my mother's maiden name! -- plus my enthusiasm for Zenith.)

                  Pre-order or Buy my latest titles in Europe:
                  The Whispering Swarm: Book One of the Sanctuary of the White Friars - The Laughter of Carthage - Byzantium Endures - London Peculiar and Other Nonfiction
                  Doctor Who: The Coming of the Terraphiles - Kizuna: Fiction for Japan - Modem Times 2.0 - The Sunday Books - The Sundered Worlds


                  Pre-order or Buy my latest titles in the USA:
                  The Laughter of Carthage - Byzantium Endures - London Peculiar and Other Nonfiction - The Sunday Books - Doctor Who: The Coming of the Terraphiles
                  Kizuna: Fiction for Japan - The Sundered Worlds - The Winds of Limbo - Modem Times 2.0 - Elric: Swords and Roses

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Michael Moorcock
                    I suspect it has to be me. All the evidence points to it (reversed initials and my mother's maiden name! -- plus my enthusiasm for Zenith.)
                    Okay, Mike; how do you reverse the initials "MM"?
                    Miqque
                    ... just another sailor on the seas of Fate, dogpaddling desperately ...

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Even I know the answer to that one...WW..
                      It's a topsy turvy world with throngs of multiversial planes overlapping and winding above, below and through one another.
                      Last edited by voilodian ghagnasdiak; 09-03-2006, 05:58 AM.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        And the boring answer is that the initials M(ichael) J(ohn) become JM.

                        Sorry, I said it was boring.
                        _"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


                        • #13
                          I'm following up my original question because I've just been reading the letters column in New Worlds 162, where several readers wrote in response to Mike's editorial The New Prism in NW 158. In that editorial, Mike began by saying:

                          In the last part of his serial [The Wrecks of Time], James Colvin seems to be suggesting what would be to many people the outrageous idea that science is replacing religion as the focus for mankind's hopes and fears.
                          Mike goes on to develop a thesis on how it is through science that art can teach us about ourselves and the world, rather than religion, which is now too crude a prism for the artist's purpose.

                          One of the correspondents* writing with a contrary opinion, says:

                          In The Wrecks of Time (which, I realise, you [Moorcock] did not write, but you must at least not disagree with, or presumably you wouldn't have printed it)...
                          Another reader writes:

                          Michael Moorcock's interpretation of James Colvin's suggestions seems to go further than does Colvin.
                          Naturally, we now know that MM=JC and as such Mike wasn't 'interpreting' Colvin's ideas but rather refining and/or elaborating upon the ideas in TWoT, but clearly in 1966 the assumption must have been that they were two different people (which, of course, is the whole point of a pseudonym - at least initially.) As early as 1967, but possibly 1968, TWoT was being published in the USA (in the 'Ace Double' edition) as by Mike rather than Colvin so the game would appear to have been up by then.

                          Of course, in those pre-Internet days, it's quite possible that the Ace edition could have come out without people in the UK knowing about it for some time? I think the first Colvin story to be published in the UK under Mike's name was 'The Deep Fix' (in The Time Dweller collection, along with other Colvin stories) in 1969.

                          Colvin's 'obituary' appeared in NW 197, (January 1970).

                          *Interestingly, the first letter featured (writing in support of the editorial) was by a Dr. Cornelius.
                          _"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


                          • #14
                            I'm surprised Mike didn't fall victim to Multiple Personality Disorder, with all these pseudonyms being used left, right and centre, and having to comment on his own work as if it had been written by someone else.

                            I'm intensely interested in Mike's 60s work (as I'm sure everybody knows by now), mainly because of the sheer breadth of his output then.

                            A further note on Colvin - the cover of Golden Nugget no. 8 lists Colvin as a contributor, but there is nothing inside by JC (nor is there an article on 2001). There is however, The Man With The Burning Brain (a retitling of Consuming Passion) by 'Keith Bishop'. This must have appeared around the same time that the story appeared (as by Mike) in New Worlds. They both even share the same Cawthorn title page illo. I wonder if anyone read both mags in 1966?

                            And of course Golden Nugget had Environment Problem by 'Ken Macbeth', seven years before its first official publication in 1973, and in slightly different form.

                            It wouldn't surprise me if the Cornelius letter was by Mike either. It wouldn't have been the first time he'd tried to kick start a debate via a letters column. I note that it appeared without comment... of course I'm probably completely wrong
                            Last edited by Marca; 02-02-2008, 03:15 AM.
                            '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


                            • #15
                              some mysterious force just wiped out my answer
                              of course it could be my clumsy neuropathic digits
                              anyway --
                              my first wife Hilary Bailey told me during this period that I would wake up one morning and not know what my own name was -- "and I'll refuse to tell you..." Of course parts of HB stories were written by me and she had material as by me and she had also written the odd bit of Colvin so it's fair to say we were both confused.
                              That techique of writing letters for a letter column is the best way to encourage readers to write in and I used it on Tarzan, Sexton Blake and even some fanzines. When the column first started, a good half of the letters were written 'in house' but very soon pretty much all the letters would be genuine. I'm not sure I used ANY pseudonyms after the 60s and had reprinted the pseudonymous books under my own name, unless, like LSD Dossier, they contained significant amounts of another writer's work -- where I'd rewritten, rather than initiated. Needless to say, I was rather surprised to find those pseudonymous books remaining in print until the present! I still have a soft spot for the comedy thrillers and had wondered about doing another Jerry Cornell book sometime. I notice that 'Kingdom' in the TV series drives an Alvis and it struck me that Stephen Fry might actually make a decent Cornell, especially if he provides his own motor...

                              Pre-order or Buy my latest titles in Europe:
                              The Whispering Swarm: Book One of the Sanctuary of the White Friars - The Laughter of Carthage - Byzantium Endures - London Peculiar and Other Nonfiction
                              Doctor Who: The Coming of the Terraphiles - Kizuna: Fiction for Japan - Modem Times 2.0 - The Sunday Books - The Sundered Worlds


                              Pre-order or Buy my latest titles in the USA:
                              The Laughter of Carthage - Byzantium Endures - London Peculiar and Other Nonfiction - The Sunday Books - Doctor Who: The Coming of the Terraphiles
                              Kizuna: Fiction for Japan - The Sundered Worlds - The Winds of Limbo - Modem Times 2.0 - Elric: Swords and Roses

                              Comment

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