From The Art and Popular Culture Encyclopedia
- do not confuse with Michael Moore
Moorcock's most popular works by far have been the Elric novels, starring the character Elric of Melniboné. In these books, Elric is an anti-hero written as a deliberate reversal of what Moorcock saw as clichés commonly found in fantasy adventure novels inspired by the works of J.R.R. Tolkien, and a direct antithesis of Robert E. Howard's Conan. Moorcock has also published a number of pastiches of writers for whom he felt affection as a boy, such as Edgar Rice Burroughs, Leigh Brackett, and Howard himself. All his fantasy adventures have elements of satire and parody while respecting what he considers the essentials of the form. While these are perhaps his best known works in the United States, he came to prominence in the UK as a literary author, with books like Behold the Man and The Final Programme being received as non-genre work. Novels like the Cornelius Quartet, Mother London, King of the City, and the Pyat Quartet have established him in the eyes of critics in publications such as the Times Literary Supplement and The London Review of Books as a major contemporary literary novelist.
Moorcock became editor of Tarzan Adventures in 1956, at the age of sixteen, and later moved on to edit Sexton Blake Library. As editor of the controversial British science fiction magazine New Worlds, from May 1964 until March 1971 and then again from 1976 to 1996, Moorcock fostered the development of the New Wave in the UK and indirectly in the United States. His serialisation of Norman Spinrad's Bug Jack Barron was notorious for causing British MPs to condemn in Parliament the Arts Council's funding of the magazine.
During this time, he occasionally wrote under the pseudonym of "James Colvin," a 'house pseudonym' used by other critics on New Worlds. A spoof obituary of Colvin appeared in New Worlds #197 (Jan 1970), written by one 'William Barclay' (another Moorcock pseudonym). Moorcock, indeed, makes much use of the initials 'JC', and not entirely coincidentally these are also the initials of Jesus Christ, the subject of his 1967 Nebula award-winning novella Behold the Man, which tells the story of Karl Glogauer, a time-traveller who takes on the role of Christ.
In more recent years, Moorcock has taken to using 'Warwick Colvin, Jr.' as yet another pseudonym, particularly in his Second Ether fiction.
Moorcock's introduction to his experimental novel Breakfast in the Ruins referring the fiction as the text of a manuscript found after the "late" author's death was a literary device taken literally by some readers.