Michael Moorcock is a legend
AJ DALTON ON MICHAEL MOORCOCK
I first read a Michael Moorcock book 30 years ago. I was 13 at the time and finally tall enough to reach my dad’s shelf of golden age scifi books. My stretching fingers snagged a copy of The Singing Citadel (1970) and it tumbled at my feet like a forbidden grimoire. It was a book of wonder, a book that blended scifi and fantasy, made me smile, frown and begin to dream.
You see, three decades ago, scifi and fantasy were not entirely separate in the way that they are now. For me, Mr Moorcock more than any other understood that a decent story had to come first and the reductive genre label was a mere afterthought. But more than that, he understood the interconnectedness of scifi and fantasy: scifi would interest itself in challenging physical limits (often through the use of new or alien technology) while fantasy would interest itself in what happened once those limits were transcended. They are/were/should always be two sides of the same metaphysical coin.
That scifi-fantasy complementarity was further exemplified, expressed and developed by the very next Michael Moorcock book I read: The Eternal Champion (1970). This book influenced me beyond description. It had elves, gods and technology all in one. It considered eternity and what it was (and was not) to be human. It was a perfect blend and synthesis of all these themes… as is life. It was mundane, epic, transporting, wry and inspiring all at the same time.
And The Eternal Champion essentially helped define my own writing. I am entirely indebted to Mr Moorcock in that respect. My books for Gollancz (Empire of the Saviours, Gateway of the Saviours, and Tithe of the Saviours) seek to blend scifi and fantasy following Mr Moorcock’s vision. They exist in a sub-genre of fantasy termed ‘metaphysical fantasy’, but that term has only become necessary because of the artificial separation of scifi and fantasy that commercial imperatives have now created. So thank you, Mr Moorcock! You are a living legend of more than two genres of writing. You are a legend that has created a new sub-genre. You are a legend that transcends reductive genre labels. You are a legend.