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Author Topic: Why I think Moorcock's RUNESTAFF is better than Elric  (Read 2914 times)
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JulianPerez
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« on: August 06, 2006, 06:35:45 AM »

Many, myself included, consider Michael Moorcock to be the greatest fantasy novelist that ever lived. And others consider his ELRIC to be the greatest fantasy series e'er.

Or is it?

Well, for one thing, in a Superman connection, Moorcock dedicated SWORD OF THE DAWN to his best pals, Edmond Hamilton and Leigh Brackett Hamilton. Very classy!

And am I the only one that realized that DC was in the right direction when Michael-freakin-Moorcock HIMSELF was going to be writing the "magic bible" of the new DCU? Try to imagine if they also had Asimov or Laurer create the alien civilizations and space travel of the DCU.

The biggest thing the RUNESTAFF books have over ELRIC may perhaps be the villains. It's no surprise that the cruel, warped Dark Empire of Granbretan takes center stage: waging war out of boredom, sexually abnormal, their Emperor a weird figure in a womblike stasis bubble he cannot leave, all of them wearing beastly animal masks because they hate showing their faces (the guy with the Clockface mask (and the ticking pendulum tie takes the cake).

It is the Baron Meliadus with his wolf-mask, that dominates the book; in many ways, he is much more interesting than Hawkmoon: an obsessed man unaware he is obsessed, who feels a possessive, predatory love for Hawkmoon's gal in a culture where love as we understand it is an unknown emotion, whose primary conflict is going from a model soldier to realizing that his empire stands in his way: "Meliadus would not listen to the Emperor's stupid orders, would do what he thought best, and if the King Emperor objected, then he would defy him."

Meliadus actually got things DONE, and when he beat the heroes (as he usually did) he gloated over them with glee that makes him unbelieveably hatable. Every time the heroes faced Meliadus, he won; they only got away by a technicality. the crystal machine of the wraith folk that moved the Brass City to another dimension JUST as Meliadus was about to win, or the inventor Mygan showing up with time travel rings when both Hawkmoon and D'Auverc were his prisoners.

On the other hand, Elric's enemies were never that dangerous, because they never seemed to seriously be a match for the White Wolf. In terms of wizardry, Elric was an Old West sharpshooter, and Theleb K'arrna was a kid that found his Dad's gun. Their wizard's battles tended to take this form:

Step 1: Theleb K'aarna summons a monster.
Step 2: Elric summons a bigger one.

Speaking of sidekicks, as much as Moorcock clearly liked the Elric ally Rakhir, (Moorcock used him again in his tale of the mythic city of Tanelorn, THE ETERNAL CHAMPION), Rackhir nonetheless was a very dull figure. The Elric books really don't get started until a character with as much elan as tough little guy Moonglum shows up as late as book five of six. Contrast this with the RUNESTAFF books, where the flippant "character part" sidekick, D'Averc, comes on center stage pretty early on. D'Averc has a much richer existence than Moonglum does. Both characters get the best lines in the book, but D'Averc takes a more active role: he even has a girlfriend independent of the hero, the Countess Flana. Moonglum is Robin, whereas D'Averc is much more like Dick Grayson as Nightwing.

Both books have their Deux Ex Machinas. However, Elric depended on his patron devil-god Arioch much more than Hawkmoon depended on the very unreliable and much more swashbuckling mystery man, the masked Knight of Jet and Gold.

And Hawkmoon had a much cooler battle cry, the birdlike "Hawkmoooon! Hawkmoooon!" (now there's a great .sig line if I ever heard one!)

As for monsters and women...arguably, the best are in NEITHER Elric or Hawkmoon's books, but in Moorcock's SWORDS books: like the flying undead shark (!), and those weird trilling monsters that are totally indestructible, but who need to SING before killing their enemies (giving our heroes ample time to escape).

Actually, in terms of monsters, Elric wins out over Hawkmoon (though this is not entirely fair, as the opponents of Hawkmoon are human-level, like pirates and the Dark Empire). Sure, the wraith people from the second book were trippy, but not as weird as the vampire trees (which Moorcock's best buddy and fellow Yeti beardo Moore used a variant of in his PROMETHEA), Vulture Lions, or Pyaray, a giant octopus sea-monster whose weak spot is the giant ruby in the middle of his cephalopod head. Elric is what would have happened if Fritz Leiber dropped acid. Then there was the giant butterfly that had once been human.

Though the women in the Elric books tend to be bimbos (the vain wingless Myrrhn woman and Elric's wife from the fifth book come to mind) but the series is totally redeemed in terms of X-chromesomes by the magnetic presence of Queen Yishana, one of the most fascinating women in fantasy. She's not pretty, nor is she young, but it's not hard to see why Theleb K'arrna would be obsessed with her.

So, what is it I'm saying here? Maybe that nearly anything that Moorcock does is worth reading, current Elric sequels included (it's worth it just to see Elric go to Milan, Italy and be mistaken for a demon, a rather understandable error).
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Uncle Mxy
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« Reply #1 on: August 22, 2006, 11:43:04 AM »

Quote from: "JulianPerez"
Well, for one thing, in a Superman connection, Moorcock dedicated SWORD OF THE DAWN to his best pals, Edmond Hamilton and Leigh Brackett Hamilton. Very classy!

Moorcock also wrote the introduction for MARTIAN QUEST: THE EARLY BRACKETT.  

Quote
And am I the only one that realized that DC was in the right direction when Michael-freakin-Moorcock HIMSELF was going to be writing the "magic bible" of the new DCU? Try to imagine if they also had Asimov or Laurer create the alien civilizations and space travel of the DCU.

Moorcock's only in the game because they cocked up their relationship with Moore.
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JulianPerez
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« Reply #2 on: August 22, 2006, 01:13:49 PM »

Quote from: "Uncle Mxy"
Moorcock also wrote the introduction for MARTIAN QUEST: THE EARLY BRACKETT.


Speaking of some Early Brackett, I just was reading Leigh's NEMESIS FROM TERRA. What an extraordinary adventure book...it was so very thick-necked, hairy-chested and butch, with a hero named "Rick" that it's astonishing a woman wrote it.

Quote from: "Uncle Mxy"
Moorcock's only in the game because they cocked up their relationship with Moore


Moore had a big beard to fill; thankfully Moorcock has a big beard too. Cheesy

I wouldn't say Moorcock is a step down from Moore at all. There are only a few comics writers that rival Moore in terms of characterization and sheer ability to write: Alan Brennert (always), or Englehart and Gerber (on their good days), or Kurt Busiek (on the best days of his life). Moorcock is amongst these; I sincerely wish he did more comics.

Though Moorcock is pretty qualified to write : he did the story breakdown for that Roy Thomas arc with the Green Goddess, that was the first and only meeting between Elric and Conan. Further, there was a graphic novel adaptation of STORMBRINGER that Moorcock did with P. Craig Russell, and further, he wrote an arc on TOM STRONG. With all due respect to the incredible Busiek run on CONAN, the most exciting Image Sword & Sorcery comic of this decade was Moorcock's ELRIC, and in a more just world, would have met CONAN in popularity.

Amusingly, Moorcock and Moore are pretty interchangeable: both are huge Yeti-looking Englishmen with enormous, virile and salty beards, who explore dark themes and magic in escapist literature (comics or adventure novels).
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