Do You Really Know Michael Moorcock?

Jeff VanderMeer • May 31st, 2009 @ 10:18 pm • Culture

“It is all quintessential Moorcock — a wild, fascinating batch of stories fairly balancing the fantastic and the nearly ordinary, and showcasing Moorcock’s talent very well, thank you.” – Booklist, starred review

You might think you know Michael Moorcock, but you could be wrong. It’s not just the novels, the nonfiction, the editing, and various other pursuits–it’s also about a body of short fiction that ranges from the realistic to the surrealistic and fantastical, and that has influenced generations of writers.

With The Best of Michael Moorcock, edited by John Davey with input from myself and Ann, now out in bookstores and getting rave attention from the likes of Boing Boing and others–see this good review from Charles Tan–I thought I’d just remind you it’s out there. Not only does the content include some of my favorite stories from Moorcock–his World War III stories still have the power to kick you in the teeth–it also features a brilliant interior design by the amazing John Coulthart. (Full contents list here.)

As the ad copy says:

These exceptional stories range effortlessly from the genre tales that continue to define fantasy to the author’s critically-acclaimed mainstream works. Classic offerings include the Nebula award-winning novella “Behold the Man,” which introduces a time traveler and unlikely messiah that H.G. Wells never imagined, “The Visible Men,” a recent tale of the ambiguous and androgynous secret agent Jerry Cornelius, the trilogy “My Experiences in the Third World War,” where a Russian agent in an alternate Cambodia is powerless to prevent an inevitable march toward nuclear disaster, and “A Portrait in Ivory,” a Melibone story of troubled anti-hero Elric and his soul-stealing sword, Stormbringer.

It might have been hard to help make decisions about what to include and what not to include, but it’s quite easy to summon the energy to assist in editing a Moorcock collection–because in addition to being an iconic talent he’s also the wisest, nicest person we know, along with his truly wonderful wife Linda. A big thank you again to John Davey for being kind enough to let us be a part of what was really his Herculean effort.

Here’s a generous helping from our afterword…


***

The joke goes a little like this: “Michael Moorcock has written for so long in so many different genres that there’s something for every reader to hate.” If you’re an iconic post-WWII literary figure whose resume includes everything from creating a mythic heroic fantasy anti-hero to editing New Worlds, the magazine that gave voice to the New Wave and the careers of writers like J.G. Ballard and M. John Harrison, then it’s very much true, simply because few readers can keep up with the protean reach of this giant.

….

We are sure that many of these choices will be hotly debated, and we welcome that debate. Let anyone who dares stand in our shoes for a month or two, looking out over the depth and breadth of Moorcock’s oeuvre. From that perspective, we think any reasonable person will agree on how devilishly hard it is to say this and not this, that but not that.

Ultimately, our role in editing this collection is a personal thank you to a man and a writer we love deeply: Michael Moorcock, whose genius is only matched by his generosity. We believe both of those qualities exist, in quantity, in this book.

2 Responses to “Do You Really Know Michael Moorcock?”

  1. drax says:

    Thanks for the reminder! One more for the stack. Eager to read the Afterword.

  2. Terry Weyna says:

    Just got this in the mail last week. Looking forward to reading it, as I’m largely unfamiliar with Moorcock’s work (though I have plenty of it on my shelves).

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