Michael Moorcock is one of my favorite authors; reading his novels and their heady stew of existentialist angst & anarchism & multiple dimensiMichael Moorcock is one of my favorite authors; reading his novels and their heady stew of existentialist angst & anarchism & multiple dimensions at a young age caused his world view to seriously impact my own. thanks a lot, Moorcock - I blame you for my general inability to give a straight answer to most questions. a year or so ago I decided to revisit his various hero-cycles. my mistake was starting with the hero I've seen as the fulcrum of Moorcock's various eternal champions: John Daker - better known as Erekosë. unlike protagonists such as Jerry Cornelius, Elric, Corum, Dorian Hawkmoon, etc et al, Erekosë is fitfully aware of all of his incarnations and the basically cyclical nature of his existence. unfortunately what this means is that the reader has to deal with a shitload of mopey, whiny bouts of infuriating self-pity. it gets incredibly wearying.
I felt ready to give up after just the first section. happily, for a good 100 pages or so, right in the middle, it is almost as if Moorcock forgot he was writing a John Daker "adventure" and began writing a genuine adventure. his wonderfully baroque, pulpy, and often ironically self-aware imagination took flight. 6 dimensions that exist in a wheel formation, all with strangely long Germanic names. gigantic steamboats that are slowly moving cities! one of them powered by human corpses! swordfights! crazy costumes! giant bear-men! flying islands! warriors with skins of flowing blood! Hitler! an evil princess! good grief, this novel has Cannibal Ghost Women. what more could I ask for? even better, the obnoxiously petulant John Daker/Erekosë is joined by the witty and urbane Von Bek, star of his very own hero-cycle. I was a bit confused at first because I thought Von Bek and Daker are both incarnations of the eternal champion, and so the two of them being comrades-in-arms made my brain hurt. but mainly I was happy - Von Bek's presence seemed to inject a large, very necessary amount of fun and madcap creativity into the dreary un-adventures of Erekosë.
alas, it didn't last much more than the lengthy middle section. eventually it gets back to the exceedingly drippy and mawkish annoyances that I had to struggle through during the prior two novels. sorry, Erekosë, but after your genocide of all of humanity (in one dimension) in your first adventure, I sort of lost interest in listening to you whine endlessly about your fucked-up life and how much you want to be with your lady love. have some perspective dude. do you even deserve the slightest bit of happiness? and sorry, Moorcock, but if you think the lines "We are the lost, we are the last, we are the unkind. We are the Warriors at the Edge of Time. And we're tired. We're tired. We're tired of making love..." sound like a timeless mythic chant, rather than just sounding painfully stilted, embarrassing - well, I don't even know what to say. I think someone was smoking hella weed the day he wrote this novel. which makes for some entertainment, but mainly a lot of eye-rolling.
reviews for the prior two novels in this sequence:
He was John Daker and then he was Erekosë, he was Erekosë and then he was Ulrik Skarsol, he is the Eternal
...And having slain my race, I was happy.
He was John Daker and then he was Erekosë, he was Erekosë and then he was Ulrik Skarsol, he is the Eternal Champion, he moves through the dimensions of man when called. As Ulrik he goes to a world of ice, another Earth, an Earth at the end of its days, the sun hanging red and swollen and low in the sky. Here he is Lord of the Frozen Keep and off to Rowenarc the Obsidian City he goes, to meet the obese & evil Bishop Belphig the Lord Spiritual, to meet the ascetic & probably not-evil Shanosfane the Lord Temporal. He sleeps, he contemplates, he longs after his lost love Ermizhad and his lost world of the Eldren, he wonders why and wonders why and wonders why. He takes a strange schooner to travel the salty sea, to hunt, to befriend pirates, to finally meet the enemies of mankind, to use the ancients' old devices, to fly over seas to a fallen Moon, to solve mysteries and to protect the slowly dying cities of this sad counter-Earth. The writing is often lovely and evocative, the names are certainly striking, the ideas are striking as well. Too bad this novel drips like a faucet, drip drip drip, the pace is as glacial as the world itself, the hero is drippy as well, so much whining and mooning about and drip drip drip. I recommend this book to those lovers of literary fiction where the protagonist engages in tireless, tiresome hand-wringing and soul-searching from cover to cover. Oh the existential crisis of it all. Lovers of literary introspection, rejoice! Lovers of genre fiction, avoid! Still, the novel is a stylish one. For Moorcock completists....more
Moorcock's signature vision of a multiverse where eternal champions fight eternal battles makes an early appearance in this 1962 space opera (later reMoorcock's signature vision of a multiverse where eternal champions fight eternal battles makes an early appearance in this 1962 space opera (later retconned as a part of his Von Bek cycle). in the far-flung future of perhaps another dimension, the moody superhuman Renark and the deadly dandy Asquiol attempt to halt the destruction of their universe by flinging themselves and a couple supporting characters into the nightmarish Sundered Worlds - a solar system which drifts unpredictably throughout the many dimensions. the tone and atmosphere of the novel are as unpredictable as the shifting array of 'Ghost Worlds' where they find themselves trapped. starting off with a distinctly Old West feel to its narrative as our heroes deal with the saloons and dusty towns of the worlds Migaa and the aptly-named Entropium, the story rarely pauses to take a breath as it leaves those worlds behind and plunges into the history of a war between two alien-canine species, metaphysical trippiness as the two encounter and are armed by the universe's makers, an escape odyssey as humanity flees its home dimension, more alien encounters, a rescue operation, a couple tragic love stories, and humankind's last stand as they send representatives (primarily psychologists!) to compete in the psycho-emotional battlefield of The Blood Red Game. and this book is only 150 pages or so. The Sundered Worlds rarely pauses to take a breath and that breathless pace happily works in its favor: the novel reads like an early work of a young genius who is beside himself with excitement, almost carelessly flinging around mind-boggling concepts about sentience and evolution, alternate dimensions, God and godlike beings, psychic locators, and heroes who live across multiple dimensions. and, of course, it actually is an early work of a young genius - Moorcock was 23 when he wrote this tale. particularly intriguing to me was the transformation of Asquiol from foppish warrior to a trans-dimensional post-human whose physical appearance is in constant flux as different aspects of himself cycle endlessly - he becomes literally impossible for other characters to even look at. nice. despite the occasional dated joke, this book felt fresh and vital to me in the way typical to many futuristic pulp novels whose gleaming exteriors often conceal an ambitious, spiky intelligence and a mournful, brooding sort of depth....more
You are John Daker. You are a resident of 20th century Earth. You are a sophisticated, intelligent fellow - urbane, socially conscious, left-leaning.You are John Daker. You are a resident of 20th century Earth. You are a sophisticated, intelligent fellow - urbane, socially conscious, left-leaning. You do not believe in binary thinking; you do not believe in Good vs. Evil. You do not support war; you don't even know how to use a weapon.
You are Erekosë. You have lived before, a hero amongst men, a great warrior and a fair one as well - there is a code of honor named after you. You have been reborn again, to do battle against humanity's mortal enemies. You were once John Daker; you were once many different people, many different heroes. You are the Eternal Champion.
You are the Eldren. You mean humans no harm. You are elegant, wise, lovers of nature and poetry and finely crafted things. You are melancholy and magical. You are elf templates.
You are Humanity. You are a petty, unreasonable, unfair, dictatorial, territorial, bloodthirsty, savage collection of liars and brutes. You thoroughly disgust me. Well, you should. You are the villains of this tale.
You are Michael Moorcock. You are apparently one of the earliest popular writers to describe alternate dimensions, parallel realities, a multi-verse. In a phrase: you are a creative genius. Your stories and your series vary in style and motivation and attitude, depending on the tale being told. You have a regularly appearing theme, one that is sometimes subtle, other times overt: mankind will always be fucked, because mankind will always fuck itself. This is a nihilistic theme, true, but the breadth of your abilities and the elegance of your art does much to belie the darkness of that theme. Your creative seed is strong and motile, and you have planted it everywhere. So many writers owe you and so many writers fail to acknowledge that debt. You are one of my favorite authors and I have been enchanted by your genius since an early age.
You are the novel The Eternal Champion. You left me cold. And annoyed. I appreciate your centrality to Moorcock's universe: you are a necessary book, one where Moorcock lays out his thesis in the most straightforward of terms. Everything is explained in prose that - for this outing at least - is relatively unadorned, straightforward, lucid to a fault. To a fault. There is something didactic about you. You lack mystery or nuance or vivacity. Your narrative is a kind of morality play. What comes around, goes around. What is a villain and what is a hero; are the heroes the villains? Mankind will always fuck itself, in the end. Humanity is its own most terrible antagonist. Yes, yes... I know.
You are mark monday. You are revisiting your favorite authors of boyhood. This was the wrong Moorcock to start out with as it was a distinctly uninspiring experience. You found the tale to be both frustrating and curiously lifeless. You agreed with its central thesis (HUMANS OFF EARTH NOW)... but the dogmatic way in which that thesis was explored was simply too deterministic and too fatalistic for you to enjoy. Perhaps you are simply a weak-minded secret humanist (scratch a cynic, right?), one who does not appreciate tales in which all of humanity is unworthy of redemption. ...more