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About Elric and Government

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  • About Elric and Government

    Dear Mike,

    Before I started reading the Elric series ( the canonical six books, not in order of publication; I finished up to ''The Weird of the White Wolf'' before I left the U.S. and plan to finish the rest when I return from a year abroad) I remember hearing about Elric, the last Emperor of Melnibone, as trying to find a moral way to rule Melnibone without returning to the amoral, brutal way of his ancestors.
    Without spoiling, what happens to Melnibone at the the beginning of ''The Weird of the White Wolf'' seems to nullify that idea, which had only been somewhat explored in ''Elric of Melnibone''. I was hoping to see more of this idea explored, and while I still haven`t read the rest of the series, it doesn`t sound like it will. I admit I was dissapointed by this, and after said event Elric`s adventures seemed to become a series of mildly interesting situations but largely unfocused and very loosely strung together. I`m intrigued by Elric but so far he seems to be a character better than the stories he`s set in.
    I have a few other caveats with the Elric books, namely the sometimes sloppy writing, stilted dialogue, lackluster battle scenes, the strung together progression of the stories I have read thus far, and the lack of world-building ala Tolkien, Lewis and Jordan (keep in mind I`m not talking about their politics or world-view here.)
    Goverment with morality is certainly an idea pertinent to today`s world and exploring that idea in a fantasy setting with Elric seemed very appealing to me. Much of what I`m saying may be result of my not having read the rest of the series, and perhaps my own deep interest in government, but I lost much desire to read the series as a result. I`ve heard enough good things about ''Stormbringer'' though, to eventually finish the series.
    This is only my opionin as a reader new to Elric, but since you communicate with your readers I decided to go right to the source. Also, thanks for being so communicative, very few writers are.

    -Sincerely,

    RedMercury

  • #2
    I have a few other caveats with the Elric books, namely the sometimes sloppy writing, stilted dialogue, lackluster battle scenes, the strung together progression of the stories I have read thus far, and the lack of world-building ala Tolkien, Lewis and Jordan (keep in mind I`m not talking about their politics or world-view here.)
    I think a lot of this stems from the fact that Elric is more sword & sorcery than epic fantasy. In sword & sorcery, world building is significantly less important than creating interesting and surprising adventures for the hero. Unfortunately, sword & sorcery is rather out of fashion these days, so readers new to Mike's work often expect an epic fantasy. I had the same problem when I started reading Elric.

    The original Elric stories, such as those that appear in Weird of the White Wolf were originally written as novellas or short stories that appeared in several magazines over a course of years. Also, Mike wrote the stories out of order; I believe that the "The Dreaming City" (first story in Weird) was the first-published Elric story. Elric of Melnibone was written years later. I personally like the battle scenes, in part because they tend not to drag on too much, but I suppose that's an issue of personal preference.

    Comment


    • #3
      Originally posted by Keele
      Originally posted by RedMercury
      I have a few other caveats with the Elric books, namely the sometimes sloppy writing, stilted dialogue, lackluster battle scenes, the strung together progression of the stories I have read thus far, and the lack of world-building ala Tolkien, Lewis and Jordan (keep in mind I`m not talking about their politics or world-view here.)
      I think a lot of this stems from the fact that Elric is more sword & sorcery than epic fantasy. In sword & sorcery, world building is significantly less important than creating interesting and surprising adventures for the hero. Unfortunately, sword & sorcery is rather out of fashion these days, so readers new to Mike's work often expect an epic fantasy. I had the same problem when I started reading Elric.
      This comment from Mike may prove helpful:

      Originally posted by Michael Moorcock
      One of the reason my work had whatever vitality people find in it could be because I was exploring a new medium, trying out some peculiar ideas within that medium (i.e. the first Elric stories). Tensions and vitality usually come from authors exploring unknown territory. I have no interest in the logistics of fantasy cities. For me any secondary function that the city has is symbolic and I would no more go into its economics than I'd go into the economics of Paris in 1800 if I was setting a novel there. This is the stuff of accountancy, not literature.
      [broken link]Q&A Archive Article #364
      Last edited by Rothgo; 04-23-2010, 04:08 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


      • #4
        I am a fan of the epic fantasy type of writing, but only if it is done well
        and I feel very few authors have done it well. Tolkien was the first to do it, I guess and he did it best in my opinion but one thing that the trilogy lacked is character development. After reading the Elric saga I feel the reader knows Elric intimately, the one reason many sympathize with his tragic anti-hero character, he seems like a real person and not a character in a sweeping epic tale. He is human (melnibonean) with major flaws and moral dilemmas, one can relate to what he goes through, Frodo on the other hand is almost two dimensional in comparison.

        So that leaves you with a choice, what type of writing do you enjoy more? a story that involves a highly detailed world where histories, politics and drawn out refrences to secondary characters & story lines take precedence over character develpoment or a tale that directly deals with the main character, in which his emotional and moral states are as important as the story line at hand?

        I was a bigger LOTR fan a couple of years ago than the Elric books
        both of which I read in my teenage years. I reread them both recently
        and I found Mike's writing overall more appealing & satisfying.
        Mike's writing is more direct when it comes to storyline and plot also, much better developed in terms of authentic real world characterization.

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        • #5
          Hi RedMercury!

          I'm glad you posted your thoughts on the Elric series thus far, and I do hope you finish the series! I'd like to reply to your post down below.

          I`m intrigued by Elric but so far he seems to be a character better than the stories he`s set in.
          For arguments sake, let's say Elric *is* stronger than the stories he's set in: Is that really a bad thing? You've probably gotten to know Elric and his tragic flaws by now, and maybe that's the more important thing here. The stories bring to light what it means to be an individual; the struggles and the terrible, ironic, STUPID mistakes we make because we are allowed to be individuals. I feel like Mike could put Elric in any story to let him wreak havoc and I'd enjoy the *ARRRGH* of "why'd Elric DO THAT!?"

          sometimes sloppy writing, stilted dialogue, lackluster battle scenes, the strung together progression of the stories I have read thus far, and the lack of world-building ala Tolkien, Lewis and Jordan
          I hope someday to write as sloppy, stilted, and lacklustered as Mike. He made a character we kinda cling to, and that's pretty powerful stuff.

          And if Elric is still not your cup of tea, you might enjoy the intrigue of Mike's Jerry Cornelius stories. Keep on reading, and I think it'll grow on you.

          Comment


          • #6
            Re: About Elric and Government

            Originally posted by RedMercury
            I have a few other caveats with the Elric books, namely the sometimes sloppy writing, stilted dialogue, lackluster battle scenes, the strung together progression of the stories I have read thus far, and the lack of world-building ala Tolkien, Lewis and Jordan (keep in mind I`m not talking about their politics or world-view here.)
            I had that same feeling reading "Stormbringer" which reminded me of the plot to a Final Fantasy - get this item, then this and then that - but then your reminded - it was written years before there was such a thing as home entertainment systems. As for the complaints, I prefer it, since Mike's heroes tend to wander in and out of time, space and reality, the point to have intricate etail in one place is futile. Its like asking Dr. Who, "I want a complete Tolkien-esque background of Gallifrey" - well over 30 trs after, we've yet to get the full history and yet we keep coming back (those who are fans, those who aren't shame on you!)

            Also, unlike the Hyborean Age which lends to more realistic rules, Mike's world does not, it is a greatly magical world of ever changing rules - if in the next story we read Melnibone vanished off the face of the earth with no other explaination other than the gods willed it, many of us would not second guess it, it just is the way the world turns in the Multiverse. :D

            Comment


            • #7
              Its like asking Dr. Who, "I want a complete Tolkien-esque background of Gallifrey" - well over 30 trs after, we've yet to get the full history and yet we keep coming back (those who are fans, those who aren't shame on you!)
              I've always wanted to watch Dr. Who, but it's hardly easy in the States, as it's rather obscure. For me, it's always been more of a rumor of a series than an actual reality. I have a horrible feeling that I'll study in the UK during junior year of college/ university and develop an addiction to British television.

              I had that same feeling reading "Stormbringer" which reminded me of the plot to a Final Fantasy - get this item, then this and then that - but then your reminded - it was written years before there was such a thing as home entertainment systems.
              I know what you mean. At times I'll think that something is rather cliche, then I'll remember that many of the cliches were in fact invented by Mike. I imagine it would be quite different to have read the stories as they came out. I must say, however, that Mike's books are still much more uncompromising than most fantasy authors. I could cite examples in Elric, I'm sure, but it's 2 A.M. right now and I have class tomorrow.

              Comment


              • #8
                Thanks for the Feedback

                Hi and thanks all for the feedback,

                I think the general opinion is right, it`s more my applying my expectations of epic fantasy and my own preferences to Elric; I`ll keep an open mind when finishing the series.
                As far as the writing complaints go, I meant it sometimes gets like that, mostly in ''Elric of Melnibone'' and the first two chapters of ''The Sailor on the Seas of Fate''. After that it seemed to me to flow much better.
                I read the two Wildstorm collections of Conan before starting Elric; I like the stories very much (great sword-and-sorcery tales, and Elric as much follows in Conan`s footsteps as much as he is a response to Conan.) I think presenting the Conan stories in the order they were written (as well as supplementary material showing how Robert E. Howard developed Conan as well as about the author himself) helped me better appreciate it, as Howard didn`t progress Conan in a chronological manner.
                Probably having Elric presented in this manner would do better justice to him; chronology doesn`t seem to be the manner in which Moorcock developed Elric. Indeed, another reason I didn`t like said event in the original post was that Elric`s actions didn`t seem to match up with his development in the previous two books.

                -RedMercury

                Comment


                • #9
                  A few additional thought of my own:

                  For the last couple years I've started delving into the politics of fantasy, so to speak. Through roleplaying (AD&D mostly) and world development I've started to try to add depth and realism to the governments and politcal motivations within a fantasy story. I've found it to be an interesting pursuit and things are slowly coming together for me.

                  Where Elric is concerned I think it really is more about Elric himself than the politics of Melnibone. The idea of Elric wanting to find a new moral for his people to live by, or at least a new moral for Melnibone's government to operate under, is an interesting idea, but only pertains the greater story in what it tells us about Elric. Immediately, in the opening chapter of Elric of Melnibone, we know that Elric is of an entirely different breed than the rest of his people because of his desire to rule morally. I also think that if we were to see more of Elric's youth we'd see an idealism that would make the later event sof his life and his growing cynicsm more tragic.

                  So, yes, it would be intersting from an acedemic point of view to see more struggle on Elric's part to come to terms with the reality of his people's traditional politics while trying to maintain the hope of morallity; but in the end, the character is the focus not the setting.
                  "In omnibus requiem quaesivi, et nusquam inveni nisi in angulo cum libro"
                  --Thomas a Kempis

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    One thing you get with Michael Moorcock:
                    Excellent story-telling; excellent writing
                    Ok: [i]Two things you get with MM.
                    And great characters.
                    Three things you get...
                    And an imagination probably unequalled in speculative fiction.
                    Ok, Four...
                    A wicked sense of humour....
                    OK!
                    I'd kind of go for that over 'World-building', frankly! :D :lol: The fantasy epic thing's a bit...
                    stodgy?
                    Just my personal response

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      The Hawkmoon tetralogy has more of the 'world-building' in it than the Elric stories/novels do, which kind of makes sense since it's more of a political narrative anyway, so that may appeal more to RedMercury's tastes anyway.

                      Plus it has some excellent battle sequences in it. :)
                      _"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


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Perdix
                        One thing you get with Michael Moorcock:
                        Excellent story-telling; excellent writing
                        Ok: [i]Two things you get with MM.
                        And great characters.
                        Three things you get...
                        And an imagination probably unequalled in speculative fiction.
                        Ok, Four...
                        A wicked sense of humour....
                        OK!
                        I'd kind of go for that over 'World-building', frankly! :D :lol: The fantasy epic thing's a bit...
                        stodgy?
                        Just my personal response
                        ...from a cat who can count on both paws!
                        "A man is no man who cannot have a fried mackerel when he has set his mind on it; and more especially when he has money in his pocket to pay for it." - E.A. Poe's NICHOLAS DUNKS; OR, FRIED MACKEREL FOR DINNER

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          A few of my (relatively worthless) thoughts--

                          My own taste is for a "less is more" approach to things like politics and social structures,. Elric was far more important to me than Melnibone. I would rather fill in details with my imagination-- Melnibone and the Young Kingdoms are already a pretty lush landscape. Broad strokes with those details keeps the characters, and their stories, central. It also lets me engage my imagination, instead of having someone do the rewarding part for me.

                          Having said that, some authors cannot create a vivid backdrop with few words, so I always feel something missing in their work. Minimalism takes talent, after all.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            [quote="Doc"Having said that, some authors cannot create a vivid backdrop with few words, so I always feel something missing in their work. Minimalism takes talent, after all.[/quote]

                            I found that as I progressed as a writer more detail I wanted to but into my stories - but then I reflect on this five inch binder with my time travel series I wrote through grade school and though it was minimal detail and shifting point of views (I was after still learning) the ideas that came out were more original than the stuff I do now! I long to get back to those days when I wrote for me and didn't give a damn about genres, etc :D

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              My professional background involved trying to get as much over in as few words as possible, so that's why I wrote as laconically as possible. I've never had much taste for jigsaws, crosswords and so on, and that also goes for complicated detective stories. However, many do and people who like to enter and maybe help create existing worlds are probably more numerous than those who don't... My idea is to help the imaginative reader do at least some of the work themselves. It seems to me that that's how I approached books like the E.Nesbit stories and so on when I was a kid. I've always loved Ballard's reviews, for instance. He always seems to bring his own imagination to bear on the book he's reading. Often makes the book seem a lot better, too.

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