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Elric v. Conan

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  • Elric v. Conan

    There's a thread about Fritz Leiber on one of the "official" Conan forums. Which broadened to include other authors... such as Mike.

    Originally posted by PAINBRUSH
    What's your opinion of the indifferent , occasionally murderous , maybe insane , drug-addicted & demon-possessed Elric of Melnibone?
    Originally posted by Taranaich
    I can't tell whether Elric is a response to Conan or to Lord of the Rings, it seems like both. Anyway, Elric's one of those characters who annoys the hell out of me, but I actually like that about him. All the annoying traits - his moodiness, his recklessness, the fact that he's too much like an elf - make his character more interesting and unique. I particularly like the fact that he's practically disabled, being short-sighted, sickly and weak, before becoming the crazed killing machine with Stormbringer. I love the ending of Stormbringer in particular, the most downbeat and at the same time uplifting finale in fantasy fiction.
    Originally posted by Cormac
    I too, like the Elric stories, but cannot stand the way people talk in them. The dialogue seems very formal, forced even. The stories and characters themselves do seem like the angry response of somebody who's fed up with "heroes" and the usual toe-the-line fantasy works.
    Originally posted by Ancient Ages
    I agree. Elric has some of the best, most atmospherically descriptive prose in S&S, but characters, with the exception of Elric himself, sucked. I don't so much dislike a formal tone, if it's done well, but much of the Elric tales had some really awful, stilted and cliched dialogue at times. Characterization was evidently not one of Moorcock's strongest points...
    Mike, what do think about Cormac's assessment that, "The stories and characters themselves do seem like the angry response of somebody who's fed up with "heroes" and the usual toe-the-line fantasy works."?

    Ciao,
    Ant

  • #2
    If no one minds me augmenting the question, I'd just noticed that Demos99's signature contains the following quote from Mike:

    What happened to fantasy for me is what also happened to rock and roll. It found a common denominator for making maximum money. As a result, it lost its tensions, its anger, its edginess and turned into one big cup of cocoa.
    So, I was just wondering to what extent all Art should be motivated by anger, or perhaps frustration. It's not as if there aren't enough things going on the world for one to be angry about!

    :x :(
    "That which does not kill us, makes us stranger." - Trevor Goodchild

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    • #3
      Like if we lived in Utopia there'd be no need for Art? :?
      \"...an ape reft of his tail, and grown rusty at climbing, who yet feels himself to be a symbol and the frail representative of Omnipotence in a place that is not home.\" James Branch Cabell

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      • #4
        I see the chief motivation of art as originating in the need for expression whether of ourselves or our take on the world. Anger and frustration of course can often lend a lot of passion to that expression.

        In response to Taranaich's comment above that Elric seems like a reaction to Conan or Lord of the Rings or both, I'm pretty sure Mike was consciously reversing a lot of the genre tropes at that time. I see Conan as the chief hero to which Elric the anti-hero can be contrasted.

        Thus Conan, the physically vital barbarian is reversed in Elric, the physically depleted Emperor. Conan, who is suspicious of sorcerors and sorcery is countered with Elric, to whom sorcery is almost as natural as breathing, so Conan distains sorcery whilst Elric relies on it. Conan, who is dissmisive of all things civilised compared to Elric the super civilised. Conan wins a kingdom, Elric razes his to the ground. Conan protects the princesses, Elric, unhappily, has a hand (via Stormbringer) in killing his.

        Your average fantasy hero at thet time was probably inordinately interested in acquiring rare treasures, gems etc as their motivation for adventuring, wheras Elric was very dismissive of acquired treasure, though luckily Moonglum was around to handle the treasure on his behalf.

        In LotR the withdrawing civilised Elves are benevolent patrons. With Elric the withdrawing civilised Melniboneans are very much malevolent in their domination of the Young Kingdoms. Again in LotR the main plot dynamic is to destroy the artifact of power and at the end it is destroyed, wheras Elric seeks out and makes use of Stormbringer and at the end Stormbringer is apparently the only survivor.

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        • #5
          Originally posted by Mikey_C
          Like if we lived in Utopia there'd be no need for Art? :?
          Hmmm... well, as Mouser says, the chief motivation for Art is the need to express something, so no doubt there'd still be a need for Art in a Utopia (if only in the form of flags which covered entire continents :) ), but would it be any good? How many poems can one write about how great everything is, and how lovely the trees look?

          Then again, what are the chances of any of us seeing a Utopian Age dawn in our life times? :(
          "That which does not kill us, makes us stranger." - Trevor Goodchild

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          • #6
            Yes, I was addressing genre tropes, as I hope to have done in other stuff as well. I did Alien Heat and the others because I DID wonder what stories could be told in a Utopia. And, of course, what kind of art would be done. Strictly post-modern, I suppose. :)

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            • #7
              Originally posted by DeeCrowSeer
              How many poems can one write about how great everything is, and how lovely the trees look?
              Those are the best kind.

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              • #8
                In fact, people only write poems about how great every thing is when every thing is horrible, and about how lovely the trees look when the trees are destroyed by polution.

                See you

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                • #9
                  The indifferent , occasionally murderous , maybe insane , drug-addicted & demon-possessed Elric of Melnibone?

                  Sounds like me on a good day.
                  My signature is

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                  • #10
                    "Characterization was evidently not one of Moorcock's strongest points..."

                    I would say this is one of the main subjects mentioned in the discussion.We had a similar topic in the Greek sff forum.
                    I think Mike didn't give much depth(/attention?) to the supporting characters at the early years indeed.I like these ealry stories because I like this style.
                    But over the decades the style-prose etc has changed as far as I can see.Again,it's focused on the main hero but it's more worked out and all those who don't like Mike(to Hell!!!!)they always refer to the early works only.
                    For example,compare the first Elric saga with the later "Elric" books.
                    Maybe the reason is that,apart from Mike being younger at that time,the "short stories for magazine" mode was responsible.There not much space for a supporting character to be developed well in such stories,is there?

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Heiron
                      "all those who don't like Mike(to Hell!!!!)they always refer to the early works only.
                      I agreed with Heiron, Mike made a few mistakes on his early works but there is an huge diference between his firsts and his more recently books.
                      (ex. Elric of Melnibone and Th Dreamthief´s Daughter)

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