Michael (John) Moorcock 1939–
(Also writes under pseudonyms of Bill Barclay, E. P. Bradbury, and James Colvin) British science fiction and fantasy writer.
As a writer and editor for New Worlds magazine, Moorcock played an important role in the development of the New Wave movement in science fiction and fantasy which began in England in the 1960s. This movement was formed in reaction to the "pulp" image of science fiction and fantasy writing and against the widely held belief that the genres had little, if any, literary value. Moorcock and other writers of the New Wave urged science fiction and fantasy authors to use a wider range of subject matter and styles in their work and to be more concerned with structure and technique. At the time of its inception, New Worlds magazine was the only outlet available to science fiction and fantasy writers who were experimenting with form and technique in the manner advocated by the New Wave leaders. Moorcock, a frequent contributor to the magazine, is renowned for his unorthodox variations on traditional science fiction and fantasy themes and techniques.
Moorcock is an extremely prolific author whose work is not easily classified into traditional science fiction and fantasy categories. Like other New Wave writers, he has a tendency to merge genres. His works blend science fiction, heroic fantasy, elements from the sword and sorcery tradition, and techniques commonly used in avant-garde literature. Perhaps the most popular of Moorcock's work is his series revolving around a character named Jerry Cornelius. Cornelius, like other Moorcock protagonists, travels not only through time and space, but also has multiple identities; he has the ability to change physical characteristics, personality traits, and gender. Through the creation of characters like Cornelius, Moorcock developed the idea of "multiverse," a metaphysical concept which posits that various levels of reality coexist within one universe. By proposing alternative forms of history and reality and by breaking traditional conventions of content and style, Moorcock has both pleased and baffled his critics. Some praise his work for its vivid, energetic, and highly imaginative landscapes and structural techniques; other critics find Moorcock's work unnecessarily obscure and lacking in substance.
(See also CLC, Vol. 5; Contemporary Authors, Vols. 45-48; Contemporary Authors New Revision Series, Vol. 2; and Dictionary of Literary Biography, Vol. 14.)