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Great Science-Fiction & Fantasy Works

  Science-fiction & fantasy literature: a critical list with discussions.

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Michael Moorcock

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Standard Disclaimer:

This is a brief discussion of Michael Moorcock and, of course, of some speculative-fiction books by Moorcock.

This discussion and list does not necessarily include every book by Moorcock: it includes only those books that I both know and like. Just as with the author list itself, omission of a particular item may mean I didn’t think highly enough of the omitted item, or it may simply mean that I have not yet sufficient familiarity with it. (In a very few cases, I have listed some books merely on the strength of my opinion of the author: all such books are clearly marked below, as throughout these lists, with a hash mark (#) before the title so you know what’s what.)

I don’t pretend that this discussion is a deep analysis. My intent is no more than to give you a rough idea of what kinds of tales Moorcock tells, how those tales are usually told, and what makes them and Moorcock worthy; in sum, to help you rank Michael Moorcock (and the works by Moorcock listed here) on your personal literary “to do” list.

A Few Words About Michael Moorcock

Regrettably, I have not yet had an opportunity to write an essay on this author, but the “Other Resources” section below will lead you to some information about the “Notable Books” listed farther down this page.

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Other Michael Moorcock Resources

Michael Moorcock Resources on the Web

There is a dedicated site, “The Official Michael Moorcock Website”; the Michael Moorcock Homepage, at Sweet Despise (now severely dated). There was also Moorcock’s Miscellany [archived copy], a set of forums, now dark; and The Michael Moorcock Collection [archived copy], a wiki site also now dark..

As to critical reviews, there are several of interest. One, “Michael Moorcock’s Metaphysics” at Only a Game, is a multi-part review that starts with a summary article on Moorcock and continues on through a total of six essays; it seems the most complete overview of Moorcock’s oeuvre. He also has an entry, Moorcock, Michael, at the always useful Encyclopedia of Science Fiction. And there’s an article, The Anti-Tolkien By Peter Bebergal at The New Yorker.

Beyond those, there are looks at The Cornelius Chronicles (at the complete review); the Elric saga (at The New York Times); Gloriana (at Asking the Wrong Questions, and also Gloriana [archived copy] at Collected Miscellany.

For those who like to read author interviews, there is plenty to choose from; a sampling includes Locus (excerpts); The SF Site; Crescent Blues; Neth Space; “The Bayley-Moorcock Letters” at Fantastic Metropolis, Part I [archived copy] and Part II [archived copy]; 3:AM Magazine; and Science Fiction Weekly [archived copy].

Moorcock is a major player in SF circles, and there is a lot more Moorcockiana on the web: Google Is Your Friend.

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Michael Moorcock Resources in Print

I could find none.

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Notable Science-Fiction and Fantasy Books by Michael Moorcock ***

Michael Moorcock is a special case in these listings.

Moorcock has by now written something approaching a hundred books, mostly science fiction or fantasy; I would guess that over the years I have read about one-fifth of his fiction output, and have kept very little of it, so I do not feel qualified to set forth a selected list. I offer instead a few comments.

Moorcock seems to me an author capable of high-quality work who has elected, for whatever reasons (but likely financial ones), to substitute quantity for that quality. He is good enough that even his potboilers are passable reading, and the situation is exacerbated by the fact that his quirkiness has caused a devoted cult of followers, who—in my opinion—mistake originality for quality, to arise. What some will pay to read, others will write.

I do not criticize Mr. Moorcock’s choice: it’s his life and I can sympathize deeply with a desire to lead life with as few distractions—like making money—as possible; it’s a shame that Moorcock’s real abilities get so few chances to show themselves, but there it is. I do criticize Moorcock’s work; though it is hard to generalize about so long a list, I would say that his Dancers at the End of Time and Von Bek series are respectable literature as is, in a way, Gloriana, while his various adventure series, though above average for such books, mostly each fit the old lady’s famous dictum, “This is the kind of book you will like if you like this kind of book.” They will pass a rainy afternoon, but that’s pretty much it.

Here is a link to a comprehensive Moorcock bibliography.

Of interest to Moorcock aficionados and completists is the Gollancz Michael Moorcock Collection, a set of 31 physical books plus several ebook-only companion editions comprising—almost—the entirety of Moorcock’s work, at least as of 2015 or so. These are not simple reprints but rather the “ldefinitive” editions, prepared with Moorcock’s oversight and frequent, if modest, revisions and updates. A simple list of the books is available, or you can see more details on the entire project. Note: a complete set of the print editions is somewhere around $600, which is around $20 a book.

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