Okay, so part 1 dealt mostly with Science Fiction, robots, reality and Philip K Dick. This part deals with Fantasy, and Moorcock.
This one will be shorter, as I have bought books by Moorcock, but never got around to reading them. In my research of the man though, I am thinking about starting to read them now. He had a lot of good quotes about writing, and the nature of fantasy, and his current view of where it is at. And, I found myself agreeing with him on several points.
One, he sees current fantasy writing as largely stale and derivative of Tolkien. Note, he probably was quoted as feeling this way in the 90s. Whether he thinks this of the current crop of books, I have no idea. But, when his books were the end all be all, the heydays of Terry Brooks, Jordan, Kurtz, and many many others, this was definitely the case. They were all mostly different writing levels of Tolkien some lighter, some darker, some deeper, some more silly, here’s looking at you, Piers Anthony.
Then, George RR Martin came along, as well as some others of a similar bent. Sci-fi authors trying their hand at epic fantasy. Cj Cherryh also wrote a good series about this time which took some ancient lore and spun it in an interesting way. Raymond E Feist I would put here too, because he managed to incorporate a Japanese type culture into fantasy in a seamless way that was definitely refreshing and different.
The people who had been writing it all along must have felt annoyed at these very experienced writers coming along into their genre and knocking all the tropes and pieces onto the floor, disregarding all the old formulas that had been working since the sixties. You re-wrote Tolkien, or you re-wrote King Arthur, but pretty much stick to the basic hero’s journey, Star Wars but with magic and not in space. Now, you got not just heroes and villains but everything in between. Beloved characters die in horrible ways, the apprentice doesn’t always succeed the teacher, the farm boy isn’t necessarily the chosen one. The good guys don’t always win.
The board and pieces were so changed that the game could not be called checkers anymore, but was more like chess. Fantasy was exciting again. Moorcock was ahead of his time, his novels were written before all this, he was writing Arthurian type fantasy, but with a gritty edge and some politics thrown in. Sure, there were elves, but these elves weren’t supernatural perfect beings but had conundrums and issues and politics. They weren’t the all wise angelic elves of Tolkien.
Although, Tolkien didn’t always portray all elves this way. The forest elves seem more human than the others in that they seem to have jealousy, and pettiness as traits. Still, I give him credit. I bought his books because, I loved the cover art. Guy Gavriel Kay might have the same artist, it is a similar style to his cover art, very stylized, and I liked it. So, I did the cardinal sin of judging a book by its cover and I would buy them on sight at the thrift stores.
I had several of his Elric of Melnibone books, but never got around to reading them. The cover art was stunning. I am not sure if I still have them, they may have been lost in one of the book purges that happened in my life. If not, I may try to find an omnibus volume and devour it. Because I think I would have enjoyed them immensely. Sometimes when you buy more than you can read, true gems fall by the wayside, and I am afraid that is what happened here.
I found a blog post about the cover art, which was by Michael Whelan, I should have known, as he did a lot of the DAW covers back in the day. A great artist. The link is below: http://fantasticflipout.blogspot.com/2009/11/michael-whelan-does-elric-of-melnibone.html