The Stealer of Souls Link Roundup
August 18, 2015
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Discussion on this one has been pretty good. A lot of people have something to say about Elric! Cirsova has won the thread in my mind with this assessment: “If Conan was for nerds who wished they were cool manly men, Elric was for nerds who wished they could be cool without being manly.” In the “things Jeffro and Mordicai Knode agree on” department, we have a new entry: we both think that Hawkmoon is superior to Elric! So if you haven’t read something from Moorcock and don’t want to be disappointed, you might consider checking out the Hawkmoon series instead.
I have to say, though… the idea that that the Melnibonéans were so advanced that they were somehow beyond and above basic concepts of morality is ludicrous. Elric’s effectiveness as an anti-hero hinges on that assumption… and it simply doesn’t hold even with readers that find plenty else to like in the stories. You can be a nonconformist and try to subvert every accepted aspect of heroism you can think of with your writing… but that doesn’t change reality. Moorcock’s inability to grasp this and his palpable desire for things to be otherwise are what make him an overrated hack in comparison to Tolkien who was declared to be “the author of the century” with good reason.
Here’s this week’s post:
RETROSPECTIVE: The Stealer of Souls by Michael Moorcock
Tor.com — “So we’ve been starting these reads off with your confessions lately, so here is a confession of mine: I don’t really like Elric! I get that Elric sort of defined the reaction against Tolkien, and that the grim anti-hero trope was really crystallized for fantasy as a genre by Elric—but because of that he just reads so…juvenile to me. Like what is being done with the New 52 in comics, it just seems like the Grim n’ Gritty comics of the 80s and 90s. I know that Elric predates that, but I’m still unable to separate the concepts, in my head. Other, later works have retroactively tainted it. No, for my money the best Eternal Champion is Hawkmoon.”
Grognardia — “I don’t always agree with everything Moorcock has said, least of all about Tolkien, but the man definitely knows the history of fantasy, so he’s earned my respect. I still have very mixed feelings about the Elric stories, but it’s impossible to deny their importance. D&D owes a lot to them, so anyone interested in the history of the hobby ought to read at least a couple of them to see what all the fuss is about.”
Revolution Science Fiction — “Elric is a bad person. He’s not an anti-hero: he’s a villain. He’s the protagonist, but he does not have the heart of gold that other James Bond, Wolverine, or other bad sci-fi -ish dudes have. Usually the way you get people to cheer a jerk or a bad guy is for them to fight villains worse than themselves. But in most Elric stories, Elric is the worst one.”