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Friday, June 19, 2015

Lin Carter on Robert E Howard & Michael Moorcock: Part 2

Lin Carter's fourth installment in the Flashing Swords! series, Barbarians and Black Magicians, contains five long stories. Usually, when you read an anthology written decades ago, you come across some names you've never heard of. Writers whose ship never sailed the most popular trading routes, or whose careers crashed into the rocks somewhere during their journey. Yet all the writers who contributed to this volume were (or became) big name authors. Jack Vance won acclaim and longevity for his hauntingly beautiful Science Fiction and Fantasy visions. Poul Anderson, in addition to writing innumerable SF and Fantasy stories and novels, also wrote a Conan novel. John Jakes wrote stories about Brak, his own barbarian hero, adapted Conan The Barbarian stories for Marvel Comics, and later made his name with his early American novels. Katherine Kurtz has been entertaining Fantasy readers for decades with her Deryni saga. And then there's Michael Moorcock, or Mike, as Lin Carter calls him, who...well, I'll let Lin Carter tell you in his own words.

"Mike is an immensely prolific and wildly talented Sword & Sorcery writer, with--by my count--at least sixteen novels to his credit in the Sacred Genre. If you compare that to [L. Sprague] de Camp's seven, John Jakes' seven, and my fifteen, it can be demonstrated that Moorcock has published more novels in the heroic fantasy field than any other author in history, alive or dead.

Dorian Hawkmoon and his other characters have their own cults of admirers, of course; but for me it is Elric of Melnibone who remains his greatest creation. The doomed albino princeling, delicately perverse and decadent, the hero-villain of his own dark legend, towers above the rest of the Moorcockish oeuvre as a searingly brilliant imaginative conception."

Can you sense Lin Carter's love for his favorite literary genre? Can you feel his passion for Moorcock's writing? I may prefer Conan to Elric. I may favor Howard's writing style over that of Moorcock. I'll proudly stand with the minority any day in stating that I like Dorian Hawkmoon more than Elric. But I'll also second Lin Carter's endorsement of Michael Moorcock's creative vision when it comes to the Elric stories. They are, as he said, brilliantly imaginative. 

Oh, and there's a new adjective for you, courtesy of Lin Carter. Moorcockish. That's one every wordsmith ought to add to his collection, don't you think?

Dragon Dave

P.S. In case you're curious as to what story Michael Moorcock contributed to Flashing Swords! 4, it's called "The Lands Beyond the World." If you can't hunt up a copy of Lin Carter's anthology, the story is included in Moorcock's book The Sailor on the Seas of Fate. It has been retitled "Sailing To The Present," and forms the middle portion of the novel.

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