sword and socery

“We must be bound to one another then,“ Elric murmured despairingly. "Bound by hell-forged chains and fate-haunted circumstance. Well, then—let it be thus so—and men will have cause to tremble and flee when they hear the names of Elric of Melinbone and Stormbringer, his sword. We are two of a kind—produced by an age which has deserted us. Let us give this age cause to hate us!” 
― Michael MoorcockElric: The Stealer of Souls



Turns out you can’t talk about the things I love without talking about Elric and his creator, Michael Moorcock.

I found out about them through the comic book adventures of Conan (written by Roy Thomas and illustrated by Barry Smith/Amazing comics by the way).

Again, I raced to my local paperback bookstore and investigated the titles and I was instantly overwhelmed. Moorcock was and still is, incredibly prolific. There were dozens of books. Six or Seven different series; fantasy, science fiction, thriller…

I started with these, with Elric. That I instantly saw how much Jim Starlin had lifted from this book for his “Warlock” run, was the beginning, but what hooked me, what dug into my skin and made me a fan for life was how transparently the lead character was an avatar for the author’s soul. You see that every so often, it’s what makes pulp characters great. Somebody has something that just doesn’t fit, it makes their life uncomfortable, they start scribbling, they think to earn a living, but that secret thing seeps out.

Elric bled sadness and longing. 

And his loneliness was so thick on the page that it serves to this day as flypaper to like souls. It’s what makes Clark Kent wear his glasses, it gives Peter Parker his oomph… Special, but alone. Loving, but eternally denied. What teenage boy who spent his afternoons in bookstores couldn’t relate to that…

I thrilled with every adventure and then branched out into the other series by Moorcock. His version of John Carter on Mars, his superspy Jerry Cornelius, the cursed Von Bek family, the alternate universe exploring Oswarld Banstable…

You can say, many things about Moorcock, but you can’t deny his imagination and drive. There have been times in my life that I’ve felt that he was writing as quickly as I was reading.

That Moorcock has gone on to become a respected and lauded straight novelist, says everything you need to know about his talent. He’s not, nor has he ever been a simple pulp wordsmith.

And now comes the kicker. Moorcock, like my heroes Philip Jose Farmer and Jorge Luis Borges, is another bibliophile, who not only was well imersed in the pulp classics that proceeded him, but, and this is the mark of genius, his influence can be seen on dozens of authors that have followed.

I’ll post through the other series later, I just wanted to mention Elric first. To dance around my favorite things and not mention him, seemed like a betrayal of his importance to me and it was bothering so…

Ladies and gentlemen, I give you Elric and his cursed sword, the Stormbringer.