Michael Moorcock answers your questions!

Matt sez, "Got any questions for Michael Moorcock? Tachyon Publications just released a career spanning collection of this living legend's very best work, and to kick things off, we thought it would be fun to offer Boing Boing's readers a chance to interview the author. If you've ever wanted to ask him anything, now is your opportunity. Just leave your questions in this post's comments. Boing Boing's editors will then select the very best of the batch and forward them on to Moorcock. Just to make things fun, we'll give three lucky Boing Boing readers free copies of The Best of Michael Moorcock. "

The Best of Michael Moorcock (Thanks, Matt!)


  1. Ever since the late 60’s and early 70’s there has been a strong connection between fantasy fiction and heavy metal music, and most fans of one are also into the other.

    Mr. Moorcock has always been involved with rock bands like Hawkwind and the Blue Oyster Cult, not to mention his own band The Deep Fix.

    I’d like to know from Mr. Moorcock what are his views on this curious relationship between fantasy fiction and heavy metal music.

  2. I really love the Moorcock multiverse. It took me a while to find out that Moorcock was a big influence of Moebius, Alan Moore, Hawkwind, Blue oyster cult and some of my other favorite authors, artists etc.
    I think Moorcocks parallel worlds and alternate realities were so believable that he influenced other writers and artists to bringing more dreamlike states of reality into the forefront of conscientiousness. True mind expanding and altering reading.
    My question is:

    What was your influence to create such a wide influential idea like the multiverse?

  3. I’m curious about the roots of Moorcock’s conception of the multi-verse, which plays such a big role in his work. The notion of a multi-verse has floated around for a long time in many contexts, and it’s a difficult thing to deal with well in fiction, but he definitely does it well.

    There are scientific conceptions of a multi-verse that come out of theoretical physics (which I have no clue about), and there is a good amount of philosophical literature on it, sort of. The notion of ‘possible worlds’ has been around at least since Leibniz, and there has been a lot of development of that notion in analytic philosophy since the 60’s. Leibniz influenced literature in the form of Candide, and a more recent example of philosophical views on this influencing literature is the obvious nods to David Lewis’s “On the Plurality of Worlds” in Neal Stephenson’s “Anathem”. Lewis is notorious for having believed that possible worlds exist, which is sort of a notion of a multi-verse.

    So what I’m curious about is whether Moorcock cares at all about what physicists or philosophers say about possible worlds or multi-verses, and whether that shapes his own conception of it. If not, is there something else in particular that has shaped it, or is it primarily just a great imagination?

    (Part of the reason I’m curious is that I’ve been reading “The Fortress of the Pearl”, and some of the things the dreamthief says remind me of contemporary analytic philosophy ‘possible worlds’ talk.)

  4. Shoot – SCLR beat me to it with the same question – I guess that’s what I get for being long-winded and not refreshing before I post.

  5. My question for Mr. Moorcock is a simple one (not really); “who is Elric?”

    Allow me to elaborate; who in his life inspired the the ill-fated albino sorcerer-king? Is he a friend, a family member, or a reflection of himself at the time the stories were written?

    Furthermore, are the different faces of the Eternal Champion also totally different people, or are they just other facets of the same person who inspired Elric, seeing as all of those characters (Hawkmoon, Erekose, Corum, etc…) are all different facets of the same thing.

    Just asking….

  6. My question for Mr. Michael Moorcock is from where in the human psyche is the source of our fascination with swords?

  7. What does Michael make of the Harry Potter craze?

    The Eternal Champion series was of similar popularity when I was at high school in the ’70s.

  8. My question would be what inspired Michael’s love of Victoriania? That is an era he revisits often (Von Bek, etc) and seems to have a strong affinity for. What about that time period draws him back to it again and again?

  9. How do you feel that the a central premise for Elric – inherent weakness driving addiction to performance enhancing drugs/dependence on the black sword – is so true-to-life with today’s notable athletes (Bonds, Hernandez, etc…). Did you see this as a fundamental construct of the human condition?

  10. How did Michael feel about the heavy borrowing from the Elric saga to create the Advanced Dungeons & Dragons world?

  11. Michael, ‘The Dancers at the End of Time’ trilogy is my favourite of your books and I’ve always regarded it as somewhat cinematic in both the narrative arc and its ‘visuals.’

    Now that CGI could realistically render the fabulous environments that Jherek and his ‘friends’ created from their imaginations, how keen would you be for a film version (preferably a movie trilogy, like the books?)

    And if you would be willing to approve it, how come no Hollywood ‘suit’ has ever asked you?

  12. Why do they use a labda instead of an A on the cover?

    Or do they think that people who read greek do not read fantasy novels? Even though math geeks are a key demographic for this stuff.

  13. Michael I have no question that hasn’t been asked above. I also always wondered where the initial idea for the eternal champion and multiple dimensions came from. What influenced you as a child? Also, thanks for making 7th grade fun. I read thru most of it and your books were broken up into small sagas that fit easily between whatever book I was supposed to be reading.

  14. You’ve spent a lot of time revising your earlier works. Do you feel that was necessary? Will there be a time when you say, “I can do no more. I must move on.”?

  15. To be honest, I haven’t read any fantasy in years. The last time I did it was not uncommon to come across tome-like never ending sagas with creatures with an empathic bond to the main character.

    My question to Mr. Moorcock is: What is the state of fantasy fiction today?

  16. Elric is commonly interpreted to have involved an inversion of the Conan trope. What other fantasy tropes have you inverted, or toyed with in your writing outside of the Elric books?

  17. What writers give you hope for the future of science-fiction and or fantasy at this time?


    What books are out of print that you consider to be indispensable reading and should be tracked down?

    Lando from The Ozone Nightmare

  18. Here’s my question:

    “Michael, you’ve had a very long and prolific career….what is it like to live past the prime of your influence? To see new readers claw back into the past and harry you in the present with praise/questions/venom for the author that you no longer are (while ignoring your current efforts). I would think that (as in any profession) you only get better w/ practice, time and experience – so I would also assume (though I am no literary critic) that your more recent work is much better than your more famous past work – or at least I would assume that you feel it is. So how does it feel to, in a sense, be in competition with yourself. Is it gratifying, frustrating, lonely?”

  19. Back in the day, would you have liked to see Johnny and/or Edgar Winter cast in the movie role of Elric?

  20. ‘Dancers at the End of Time’ was also one of my favorite series. It seemed to address the problems of omnipotent characters that are far from omniscient. It also seemed like a series that Mr. Moorcock was having a good bit of fun with as he was writing it.

    I’m curious whether he could share his experience writing that series and current thoughts/ assessments.

  21. oooh-kay haha well, a question for THE mr moorcock. lessee…

    0-) the fabulous harbours trilogy was so good, why? (no, no that was a joke)

    1-) contemporary post-religious society no longer has any major myths that guide it, generally speaking. do you consider fiction and fantasy to be filling that void – and in the light of the slow but inevitable slide towards new sensory media, such as AR (augmented reality) and VR, as well as the explosion of fantasy in video gaming, what do you see as the next level of the culture of fiction?

    2-) it seems all human misery is due to a lack of imagination. what is your definition of the imagination and how do you think you can cultivate a better one?

  22. I’m a huge fan and one of my favorite books is The Brothel in Rosenstrasse. My question is, considering the appearence of the madman/acrobat, what is the role of Nietzsche in the book?

    I guess that’s a little sloppily phrased, but the references to Zarathustra seem clear to me, and I just want to know if I’m nuts.

  23. I’ve been a huge fan since I was a kid. One of my personal Moorcockian favorites is ‘Warlord of the Air’ and the sequels. It always seemed to me to be a pre-cursor to the current “steampunk” movement. I’m curious as to what you would have to say regarding this series and the concept of ‘steampunk’ in general.

  24. Three questions immediately come to mind:

    Is it by accident or design that your characters and situations of the Eternal Champion tales echo the Commedia dell’arte?

    Why “J.C.”? To include Jesus Christ as an manifestation of the Eternal Champion? Is Behold the Man then part of the cycle? What about Breakfast in the Ruins?

    What do you think of Jonathan Littell’s homage to Jerry Cornelius in Bad Voltage?

  25. Does Michael Moorcock feel that there are any contemporary characters in the world of ‘fantastic fiction’ at the moment that have the same relevance, and resonance, that the Jerry Cornelius character had in the late sixties/early seventies.
    If there isn’t an archetypal character that fits the role should someone create one, or is that role redundant nowadays?
    Finally, deep felt thanks to MM for a lifetime of thought-provoking, entertaining fiction.

  26. pandnotq, i think you raise a great part of the same question though. i too wonder if moorcock had any influence from theories of quantum physics. i recently caught a pretty good episode of nova where mark everett(the eels) explores some of the theories of his father hugh everett III(the quantum physicist). it was a pretty good layman intro to quantum physics and alternate realities.

  27. I’m a 23 year old who has been a fan of sci-fi and fantasy all his life and the sad truth is that I only just began reading your work a month or so ago. I first heard about you when stumbling Wikipedia and finding Behold the Man. After much scavenging through a local used bookstore I finally picked up the first of the Elric collection. I’m about 4 or 5 stories in and really enjoying it.

    My question, as a relatively new fan is have there been any authors in your life whose work was actually quite popular and in your own genre of interest that you simply were not aware of for much of their career?

  28. as a second part to #10, whos treatment of the source was better: Chaosium’s Elric roleplaying game, or the new Mongoose Publishing version? My money is on Chaosium…


  29. Perhaps the kaleidoscopic plots of the Jerry Cornelius novels are not as popular as the Multiverse and Elric sagas, but I would like to ask Michael if there is some autobiographical spark, in particular, that invoked the novel ‘Final Programme?’ And a follow-up question, is there an interesting anecdote about mind altering drugs and the Cornelius tales, as they were appearing in New Worlds. PS: Whatever happened with Charles Platt and the apartment that caught on fire?

  30. If you were traveling in your car at the speed of light, and you turned on your headlights, would anything happen?

  31. Having recently played The Last Remnant on the 360, I couldn’t help but thinking that the story was, in a way, similar to The Eternal Champion. My question is, would Michael consider allowing this type of game to made based on his work?

    This probably links into #11 by fergus1948

  32. When I was a kid in the 70’s we went to London once or twice and I managed to drag my parents to a bookstore called ‘Dark They Were and Golden Eyed’ that had an entire wall dedicated to Michael Moorcock books. So my question is: Do you think that bookstore would still be in business if they had sold something in addition to– :D

    Ok. Scratch that. Better question:

    What artist has illustrated your work best? Who would you like to see illustrate it? Any Elric feature films in the works? Some Moebius / Jerry Cornelius thing would be cool. I guess that wasn’t exactly a question.

  33. Oh, oh, another one!

    What’s the REAL reading order of the multiverse books? :D

  34. i always assumed jerry cornelious was part of the multiverse and the an eternal champion incarnation.

  35. This question comes from changes I’ve seen over the decades in the types of stories that get published and marketed. Mind you, I have no real evidence – my take on the subject is all subjective.

    But, it seems to me that while the audience for fantasy is continually expanding, the audience for science fiction is dwindling. The average age of SF readers is increasing, and it seems that young people are no longer getting interested in that genre the way they were in the 60s and 70s. The “science” in SF stories is getting softer, and the number of SF titles being published is decreasing, while there is an upsurge in the number of titles for works that either are outright fantasy or which blur the distinction between the genres.

    I’d like to ask Mr. Moorcock two questions: What does he think about the potential future for science fiction, or the lack of it? And, does he think that fantasy will be the dominant meme among “alternative fiction” writers in the future?

  36. #40 oh, that makes sense. I’ve only read Final Programme and English Patient, so not clear on the multiverse concept. Of course, I also read the Elrics, which are fantastic, too! But what really fascinates me are the New Worlds convergence years. I really regretted it when Moorcock said he didn’t want to do an autobiography about those years because too many of the main characters might be upset with his interpretation of what happened. (See StarShipSofa video http://u.nu/6s88 ) So it’s a bit of missing history. Though Moorcock’s intro to the 2004 anthology of New Worlds (Running Press) is excellent, highly recommended.

  37. Moorcock has been critical of authoritarian tendencies in science fiction in the past and I’m curious what he thinks about the state of modern sci-fi and if there are any authors he thinks excel or fail here. In particular I’m curious what his take is on the transhumanist genre of science fiction (Ken Macleod, Alistair Reynolds, Ian Banks, Richard Morgan, etc.) and their take on technology and politics. Also, does Moorcock still consider himself an anarchist and how does he view the prospects for a horizontal, non-hierarchical, egalitarian society actually emerging?

  38. I remember reading the “Dancers at the End of Time” series when i was younger. I really enjoyed them then, and the ideas stuck with me. It occurs to me now that it was really a brilliant satirical look at the possible endgame of technology, the future of humanity as a bunch of children playing with the universe. I guess I don’t really have a question.

  39. #42 I meant “The English Assassin,” of course… Freudian slip with that movie title…

  40. I remember in the foreword to one of your novels you said you are an optimist. I was wondering, in view of your anarchist sentiments and the current insidious morphing of England (and elsewhere)into a police state, if you still feel optimism and if so, what do you think will improve?

  41. Mr. Moorcock,

    You encouraged other authors and artists to create works about Jerry Cornelius in a sort of early open source attempt at open brand sharing. What inspired you to undertake such a bold experiment and do you consider that experiment in sharing a success?

    — MrJM

  42. Doesn’t Pink Floyd owe you some money?

    Any relation to Roger Moore?

    Got any tips on how to pick up girls?

    I’m thinking of becoming a novelist. How are the groupies? -Any of the girls look like Frazetta’s art (ok, not the ones of monsters)?

  43. I think Harlan would have a stroke because it would involve physical activity, then Charles would freeze his head and used it as a paperweight.

  44. Jerry Cornelius and the rest of his milieu (his mother, Frank and Catherine, Una Persson, Bishop Beesley, Miss Brunner, and all the others) all seem to be 20th century archetypes of one kind or another, and I think their relevance hasn’t dimmed as time has marched on (as “Firing the Cathedral” demonstrates). I’d like to hear a bit more about how the Cornelius characters function as mirrors of the times, both in the 1960s and 1970s when they were born, and now.

  45. Hello Mr. Moorcock, thank you so much for championing sf as literature, and creating such. Are you mentally divergent?

  46. Your excellency Mr. Moorcock:

    Myself and a group of my long-term friends have been reading your works since our early teens, swapping books back and forth as we managed to find them.

    One of the reasons we found out about your world of Elric (where we started from) was through the AD&D Dieties and Demigods Melebonian Mythos, which was subsequently removed in future editions. How did the removal ever come about?

    Always been curious as it took a great deal of effort, and swapping in my Ryder deck Tarot cards to get a copy!

  47. You were deeply involved in the new wave of science fiction that valued literary quality, and social/political relevance in the genre. At the time, that was the cutting edge of science fiction. Where do you think that edge is now? Has that edge moved much? Is it anywhere?

    What do you think are some of the writers and/or works that are relevant now. Little Brother? The City and the City?

    Also, what do you think about the Little Brother style online, free distribution of fiction? And more generally, how can we, as a society, reconcile the need for artists to earn a living, the obvious good of creating a world where all art and knowledge is instantly available to all of humanity?

  48. Whom would you cast in the roles of the various incarnations of the eternal champion if you had your ‘druthers?

    Are there any particular directors, animators, &/or studios with whom you would like to collaborate?

  49. “we’ll give three lucky Boing Boing readers free copies of The Best of Michael Moorcock.”

    tick… tick… tick…

  50. Michael you are an icon of SciFi, back when it was smart and not just about people vs machines.


    ‘Moon’ the film released on July 17th in the UK borrows heavily from your Book ‘The Black Corridor’but ‘director’ Duncan Jones and ‘writer’ Nathan Parker credit themselves entirely and give NO credit to you!

    Just an FYI. In my opinion this was plaigarism and a collaboration between the director and writer to duck that definition but if you see this film I’m sure you will recognize your Book instantly.

  51. “we’ll give three lucky Boing Boing readers free copies of The Best of Michael Moorcock.”


    Will it be sometime *this* year?

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