Monday, October 16, 2006

"Wizardry & Wild Romance" - Michael Moorcock

I just received and read "Wizardry & Wild Romance" by Michael Moorcock. I have a decent little collection of non-fiction books about fantasy and swords & sorcery literature so I assumed anything by Mooorcock would be a welcome addition. As a young man he revolutionized the field with the creation of the brooding heroes Elric of Melnibone, Corum of the Silver Hand and Dorian Hawkmoon. As editor of New Worlds he also helped revolutionize the entire field of science fiction and fantasy. I guess I wasn't wrong but I was disappointed.

What purports to be a reasonable survey and critique of the field of fantasy fiction is instead the ultra-cranky rantings of a bitter old man. It's not that his attacks on Tolkien, Lewis and several other writers of the old guard are totally off base but they often seem over the top to no real effect.

If there's any hint of conventional morality, un-skeptical characters or actual heroism, Moorcock seems automatically down on a book. There's a place for his rejection of tradition in fantasy but of course tradition shouldn't be rejected just because it doesn't mesh with someone's modern beliefs.

It's an interesting overview by an important writer but it's not essential. It's a shame.

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