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Michael Moorcock is a prolific British fantasy and science fiction author, probably best known for his fantasy saga The Tale Of The Eternal Champion. This sequence of loosely interconnected books concerns the "Eternal Champion", who has many identities in different times and dimensions, but always fights to maintain the balance between order and chaos, though he may not know that he is an incarnation of the Eternal Champion or that his destiny is to maintain the Balance.
Moorcock was born in London in 1939. He began his editing career at the age of sixteen when he became editor of the Tarzan Adventures magazine. From 1964 to 1971, he worked as editor of the New Worlds magazine, and helped to change its emphasis from old-style science fiction with rockets and rayguns to "New Wave" science fiction written in a more experimental style and more inclined towards softer sciences such as psychology.
In 1963, he won the Nebula Award for his novella Behold The Man.
He has frequently collaborated with the rock band Hawkwind, and has written the lyrics to three songs about Elric for the band Blue Oyster Cult.
The Tale of The Eternal Champion
Elric of Melnibone
Elric is the hereditary emperor of the Melniboneans, a race of long-lived beings who are decadent and totally amoral, often taking a delight in cruelty - Elric is the only one of them to have any moral sense. Because of his sensibilities and his physical weakness (he is an albino who is dependent on drugs and herbs to give him any vitality at all) many believe that he does not deserve to be emperor. In the first book of this long saga, his cousin attempts to assassinate him and take the throne. During this book, Elric acquires the evil black sword Stormbringer which he will bear for the remainder of the saga. By the end of the book, he is in a position to marry the woman he loves and reclaim his throne, but chooses instead to travel the world having adventures in an attempt to find out who he truly is.
Stormbringer is a sentient and highly aggressive weapon which steals the souls of its victims and transfers their energy to Elric - while he bears it, his need for drugs to sustain him is reduced. However, it will frequently attack of its own will, and kills Elric's friends several times during the series. Although Elric feels dependent on Stormbringer to survive, he also feels repelled by its aggressive nature and makes some unsuccessful attempts to get rid of it. On one occasion he threw it away while flying on a dragon at a great height, but it apparently came back to the armoury under its own power.
The Elric saga is much darker than most fantasy, and can be seen as a direct parody of Robert E Howard's Conan series - instead of a big tough barbarian blithely hacking his way through hordes of enemies and eventually becoming a king, Elric is a weak and sickly but highly educated emperor who voluntarily chooses to abdicate. He is sometimes described as an "anti-hero", perhaps because he is far more angst-ridden than your typical fantasy hero, and because Stormbringer sometimes forces him to kill innocent people. However, he often acts in a noble and heroic manner - he shows mercy to the people who planned to kill him in the first book, and on one occasion almost dies rather than kill an innocent person with Stormbringer to restore his energy. Moorcock says in the introduction to the book Elric of Melnibone "I prefer to think of him simply as a hero" and goes on to describe how alienated heroes such as Elric who are able to stand apart from their society can be very useful in pointing out its weaknesses.