Michael Moorcock

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Michael Moorcock (born 18 December 1939) is a prolific British writer and editor, long known for his SF and fantasy works and now also for literary novels.

Michael Moorcock, 2006

Quotes[edit]

Short fiction[edit]

To Rescue Tanelorn... (1962)[edit]

Originally published in Science Fantasy magazine, December 1962. Page numbers from the author’s final revised version included in the omnibus trade paperback edition The Eternal Champion published by White Wolf Publishing
  • Everything means nothing—that is the only truth.
    • p. 472
  • The subtlest lie of all is the full truth.
    • p. 474

London Bone (1997)[edit]

Originally published in the anthology New Worlds edited by David Garnett. Page numbers from the story included in the mass market paperback edition Year's Best SF 3 edited by David G. Hartwell
  • Americans need bullshit the way koala bears need eucalyptus leaves. They’ve become totally addicted to it. They get so much of it back home that they can’t survive without it.
    • p. 423
  • What the local politicians actually meant was that they hoped to claim the land in the name of the public and then make the usual profits privatizing it. There was a principle at stake. They had to ensure their friends and not outsiders got the benefit.
    • p. 443

The Lost Canal (2013)[edit]

Originally published in the anthology Old Mars edited by George R. R. Martin and Gardner Dozois. Page numbers from the story reprinted in the trade paperback anthology Time Travel: Recent Trips edited by Paula Guran
  • “You only need fear the bees if you’ve broken the law.” That familiar phrase was used to justify every encroachment on citizens’ liberty.
    • p. 346
  • There were three known existing sapphires. One was in the Conquest of Space Museum on Terra, one was in the hands of United System President Polonius Delph—he was the richest man in seven worlds, or had been until he’d paid cash for his jewel. The other had been stolen soon after its discovery. Maybe Delph had it...
    “From what I understand of your world, Delph isn’t the only one who wants the sapphires. He has rivals in the Plutocracy. Another mysterious collector? Or those rivals are competing for the presidency or they think they can ruin him. As you know, it’s a vicious circle in politics. You can’t get to be president unless you have the wealth and you can’t really make massive sums until you’re president.”
    • p. 355
  • Wasn’t all their effort worthless? Wouldn’t it be better to accept the impossibility of their mission? He began to think Krane was mad. If there were a threat, then inevitably they would die. Death was the future of all people, all planets, all universes. Their struggle was symbolic of the futility of living creatures who fought against their own inevitable extinction. What were a few more years of existence compared to the longevity of a cosmos? In those terms, the whole history of their species lasted for less than a fraction of a second. And then, sheltering beside him under the protection of the energy equalizer, she looked up for a second, and, obscurely, he understood that the effort always would be worth it. Always had been worth it.
    • p. 371

The Sundered Worlds (1965)[edit]

Page numbers from the author’s final revised version included in the omnibus trade paperback edition The Eternal Champion published by White Wolf Publishing ISBN 1-56504-191-7
  • “He was a fool,” said Willow calmly to Klein. “There are many who refuse their responsibilities. Fooling themselves they search for a ‘higher ideal’. He was a fool.”
    “What are responsibilities?” said Klein laconically. “He knows. Responsibility, my dear, is another word for self-interest. For survival.”
    She looked at Klein uncomprehendingly.
    • Chapter 4 (p. 206)
  • The time has come for the dismantling of fantasies. That is already happening to our universe. Now that we have this one chance of survival we must finally rid ourselves of fantasies and seize that chance!
    For centuries our race has built on false assumptions. If you build a fantasy based on a false assumption and continue to build on such a fantasy, your whole existence becomes a lie which you implant in others who are too lazy or too busy to question its truth.
    In this manner you threaten the very existence of reality, because, by refusing to obey its laws, those laws engulf and destroy you. The human race has for too long been manufacturing convenient fantasies and calling them laws. For ages this was so. Take war, for instance. Politicians assume that something is true, assume that strife is inevitable, and by building on such false assumptions, lo and behold, they create further wars which they have, ostensibly, sought to prevent.
    We have, until now, accepted too many fantasies as being truths, too many truths as fantasies. And we have one last chance to discover the real nature of our existence. I am prepared to take it!
    • Chapter 7 (pp. 229-230)
  • He existed in all the many dimensions of the multiverse. Yet he, in common with all others, was bound by the dimension of Time. He had cast off the chains of space but was tied, as perhaps all denizens of the multiverse would always be, by the imperturbable prowl of Time, which brooked no halt, which condoned no tampering with its movement, whether to slow it or to speed it.
    Time, the changer, could not be changed. Space, perhaps, the material environment, could be conquered. Time, never.
    • Chapter 15 (p. 290)

The Jewel in the Skull (1967)[edit]

Page numbers from the author’s final revised version included in the omnibus trade paperback edition Hawkmoon published by White Wolf Publishing ISBN 1-56504-193-3
  • “I shall not be killed!” The count smiled scornfully, as if death were something that only others suffered.
    • Book 1, Chapter 2 “Yisselda and Bowgentle” (p. 13)
  • Do not thank me for saving your life. You do not realize yet what I have saved it for.
    • Book 3, Chapter 3 “The Warrior in Jet and Gold” (p. 113)

The Mad God's Amulet (1968)[edit]

Page numbers from the author’s final revised version included in the omnibus trade paperback edition Hawkmoon published by White Wolf Publishing ISBN 1-56504-193-3
  • I would waste my rhetoric if I tried, for men are greedy and will not see the truth for the gleam of coin.
    • Book 1, Chapter 5 “The Machine” (p. 160)
  • The hardest compromise to make is when you decide to appear to compromise. Often the deception becomes the reality long before you realize it.
    • Book 1, Chapter 5 “The Machine” (p. 160)
  • “No denial would convince you,” D’Averc smiled, “so I will not offer you one.”
    • Book 2, Chapter 1 “The Waiting Warrior” (p. 185)

The Sword of the Dawn (1968)[edit]

Page numbers from the author’s final revised version included in the omnibus trade paperback edition Hawkmoon published by White Wolf Publishing ISBN 1-56504-193-3
  • For this was the great power of the Lords of the Dark Empire, that they valued nothing on all the Earth, no human quality, nothing within or without themselves. The spreading of conquest and desolation, of terror and torment, was their staple entertainment, a means of employing their hours until their spans of life were ended. For them, warfare was merely the most satisfactory way of easing their ennui...
    • Book 1, Chapter 1 “The Last City” (p. 259)
  • Only Bowgentle, the philosopher-poet, his old friend, had an inkling of what he meant and even then Bowgentle believed that it reflected not on the nature of the landscape but on the particular nature of Count Brass’s mind.
    “You’re exhausted, disorientated,” Bowgentle would say. “The ordering mechanism of the brain is working too hard, so you see a pattern to existence that, in fact, only stems from your own weariness and disturbance...”
    • Book 1, Chapter 2 “The Flamingoes’ Dance” (p. 261)
  • Wild days, wild riders, and the stink of warfare across the world!
    • Book 1, Chapter 3 “Elvereza Tozer” (p. 269)
  • Machine-devoured, all his hours were given o’er to that insidious circuitry, and old grew he, unnoticing, in the service of his engines.
    • Book 1, Chapter 3 “Elvereza Tozer” (p. 269)
  • “I have heard it said it is often safer to dwell in the lion’s lair than outside it,” Oladahn said.
    “Safer still to live in a land where there are no lions,” Count Brass retorted.
    • Book 1, Chapter 9 “Interlude at Castle Brass” (p. 291)
  • “I think you serve a great purpose, Hawkmoon. I think your destiny is a noble one.”
    Hawkmoon laughed. “And yet I do not pine for a noble destiny—merely a secure one.”
    • Book 2, Chapter 11 “The Parting” (p. 380)

The Runestaff (1969)[edit]

Page numbers from the author’s final revised version included in the omnibus trade paperback edition Hawkmoon published by White Wolf Publishing ISBN 1-56504-193-3
  • And then he pursed his lips in disgust. “Doubtless that was the result of supernatural interference with our brains! How I hate the supernatural!”
    • Book 1, Chapter 5 “A City of Glowing Shadows” (p. 406)
  • Every court must have its fool, every great ideal must attract some who are motivated only by self-interest.
    • Book 1, Chapter 7 “A Well-Known Traveler” (p. 413)
  • “And is adventure and sensation all we should seek, Meliadus?”
    “Aye—why not? All is chaos, there is no meaning to existence, there is only one advantage to living one’s life and that is to discover all the sensations the human mind and body is capable of feeling.”
    • Book 2, Chapter 1 “Whispering in Secret Rooms” (pp. 428-429)
  • It is many years since I have wielded a weapon larger than a pen, borne anything weightier than a difficult problem in philosophy.
    • Book 3, Chapter 5 “Five Heroes and a Heroine” (p. 467)
  • “You fought well and you fought for justice.”
    “Justice?” Hawkmoon called after him as he left the room. “Is there such a thing?”
    “It can be manufactured in small quantities,” Fank told him. “But we have to work hard, fight well and use great wisdom to produce just a tiny amount.”
    • Book 3, Chapter 17 “The Sad Queen” (p. 501)

The Eternal Champion (1970)[edit]

Page numbers from the author’s final revised version included in the omnibus trade paperback edition The Eternal Champion published by White Wolf Publishing ISBN 1-56504-191-7
  • If the people at the top think that reaching for a gun will solve the problem, why shouldn’t the people at the bottom think the same?
    • Introduction (p. viii)
  • I felt sorry for him at that moment. He only wanted what every man wanted—freedom from fear, a chance to raise children with a reasonable certainty that they would be allowed to do the same, a chance to look forward to the future without the knowledge that any plans made might be wrecked forever by some sudden act of violence.
    • Chapter 3 “The Eldren Threat” (p. 15)
  • I stared at the water and saw the clouds reflected in it, saw them break to reveal the moon. It was the same moon I had known as John Daker. The same bland face could be made out staring down in contentment at the antics of the creatures of the planet it circled. How many disasters had that moon witnessed? How many foolish crusades? How many wars and battles and murders?
    • Chapter 9 “At Noonos” (p. 50)
  • It’s getting late. I must return to my ship or my men will think I’ve drowned and be celebrating.
    • Chapter 10 “First Sight of the Eldren” (p. 58)
  • There must be countless forms of love. Which is the form which conquers the rest? I cannot define it. I shall not try.
    • Chapter 15 “The Returning” (p. 91)
  • The problems for which I could find no solution in fact had no solution.
    • Chapter 23 “In Loos Ptokai” (p. 137)

Phoenix in Obsidian (1970)[edit]

Page numbers from the author’s final revised version included in the omnibus trade paperback edition The Eternal Champion published by White Wolf Publishing ISBN 1-56504-191-7
  • Nothing is known for certain, Isarda. All knowledge is illusion—purpose is a meaningless word, a mere sound, a reassuring fragment of melody in a cacophony of clashing chords. All is flux—matter is like these jewels. (She throws a handful of gleaming gems upon the golden surface; they scatter. When the last jewel has ceased to move, she looks up at him.) Sometimes they fall into a rough pattern, usually they do not. So as this moment, a pattern has been formed—you and I stand here speaking. But at any moment that which constitutes our beings may be scattered again.
    • Prologue (p. 321)
  • Here, I thought, I had found the human race in its final stages of decadence—perverse, insouciant, without ambition. And I could not blame them. After all, they had no future.
    • Book 2 “The Champion’s Road” Chapter 3 “The Lord Spiritual” (p. 354)
  • All Empires fall,
    All ages die,
    All strife shall be in vain.
    All Kings go down,
    All hope must fail,
    But Tanelorn remains—
    Our Tanelorn remains...
    • Book 2 “The Champion’s Road” Chapter 5 “The Black Sword” (p. 365)
  • Destiny’s Champion,
    Fate’s fool.
    Eternity’s Soldier,
    Time’s Tool.
    • Book 3 “Visions and Revelations” Epigram (p. 394)
  • “I would be grateful if I was allowed to work out my own destiny for once,” I said. “For good or ill.”
    • Book 3 “Visions and Revelations” Chapter 4 “The Lady of the Chalice” (p. 416)
  • Because I had sought to challenge Destiny, Destiny had taken vengeance.
    • Book 3 “Visions and Revelations” Chapter 5 “The Waking of the Sword” (p. 421)

The Warlord of the Air (1971)[edit]

Page numbers from the author’s final revised version included in the omnibus hardcover edition A Nomad of the Time Streams published by White Wolf Publishing ISBN 1-56504-179-8
  • As I suggested to John Major (a British Prime Minister) when he told us that socialism was dead, he should not be too triumphant. After all, until his predecessor Mrs Thatcher revived it, we thought feudalism pretty much over and done with, too.
    • Introduction (p. vi)
  • Paternalism and centralism, the bane of capitalist as well as socialist politics, are for me the permanent enemy of democracy.
    • Introduction (p. vi)
  • It’s what they call a “theocracy”—priest-ridden in the extreme, full of dark superstitions and darker myths and legends, where all gods and demons are honoured, doubtless to be on the safe side. The people are cruel, ignorant, dirty and proud—they look down their noses at all other races.
    • Book 1, Chapter 2 “The Temple at Teku Benga” (p. 14)
  • “Like most fanatics,” I pointed out coolly, “you share at least one characteristic with children—you want everything now. All improvements take time. You cannot make the world perfect overnight. Things are considerably better for more people today than they were in my—in the early years of this century, for instance.”
    • Book 3, Chapter 1 “General O. T. Shaw” (p. 92)
  • Tyrants hate original thinking.
    • Book 3, Chapter 3 “Chi’ng Che’eng Ta-Chia” (p. 106)
  • The conqueror always assumes that his moral superiority—rather than his ferocious greed—is what has allowed him to triumph.
    • Book 3, Chapter 5 “The Coming of the Air Fleets” (p. 121)
  • “I was wondering what made a decent English army officer turn into a desperate revolutionist overnight,” I smiled.
    “It happens to many like that,” he said. “I have seen them. But you have to show them so much injustice first... Nobody wants to believe that the world is cruel—or that one’s own kind are cruel. Not to know cruelty is to remain innocent, eh? And we should all like to remain innocent. A revolutionist is a man who, perhaps, fails to keep his innocence but so desperately wants it back that he seeks to create a world where all shall be innocent in that way.”
    • Book 3, Chapter 7 “Project NFB” (p. 135)
  • In an infinite universe, all may become real sooner or later. Yet it is always up to mankind to make real what it really wishes to be real.
    • Book 3, Chapter 7 “Project NFB” (p. 135)

The Land Leviathan (1974)[edit]

Page numbers from the author’s final revised version included in the omnibus hardcover edition A Nomad of the Time Streams published by White Wolf Publishing ISBN 1-56504-179-8
  • The soldier shook his head, waxing philosophical. “It’s a madness, sir. We’ve all got it. It could go on until the last human being crawls away from the body of the chap he’s just bashed to bits with a stone. That’s what war is, sir—madness. You don’t think about what you’re doing. You forget, don’t you—you just go on killing and killing.”
    • Book 1, Chapter 2 “The Dream—and the Nightmare—of the Chilean Wizard” (p. 187)
  • “Violent men believe only in such concepts as ‘weakness’ and ‘cowardice’. They are so deeply cynical , so rooted in their own insane beliefs, that they cannot even begin to grasp the concept of ‘pacifism’.”
    • Book 1, Chapter 6 “A Haven of Civilization” (p. 214)
  • There is less danger, gentlemen, in living according to a set of high moral principles than most politicians believe.
    • Book 1, Chapter 6 “A Haven of Civilization” (p. 214)
  • “You have no proof of this,” I said.
    “No. But a theory must be tested to be disproved, Mr Bastable.”
    • Book 1, Chapter 8 “A Decision in Cold Blood” (p. 233)
  • It is the spirit of Salem—the corrupting influence of Puritanism which in itself is perversion of the Stoic ideal—infecting what remains of a nation which could have set an example to the world.
    • Book 1, Chapter 8 “A Decision in Cold Blood” (p. 233)
  • Gandhi had been right. There was only one way to behave, even if it seemed, in the short term, against one’s self-interest. Surely it was in one’s self-interest in the long term to exhibit generosity, humanity, kindness and a sense of justice to one’s fellow men. It was cynicism of Beesley’s kind which had, after all, led to the threatened extinction of the whole human race. There could be no such thing s a “righteous” war, for war was by its very nature an act of injustice against the individual, but there could be such a thing as an “unrighteous” war—an evil war, a war begun by men who were utterly corrupt, both morally and intellectually. I had begun to think that it was a definition of those who would make war—that whatever motives they claimed, whatever ideals they promoted, whatever “threat” they referred to, they could not be excused—because of their actions they could only be of a degenerate and immoral character.
    • Book 2, Chapter 4 “The Triumphant Beast” (p. 262)

The Steel Tsar (1981)[edit]

Page numbers from the author’s final revised version included in the omnibus hardcover edition A Nomad of the Time Streams published by White Wolf Publishing ISBN 1-56504-179-8
  • It’s all a question of power and rarely a question of justice.
    • Book 1, Chapter 8 “The Message” (p. 324)
  • The captain seemed mad. Perhaps he did not enjoy his trade. Many soldiers did not, when real warfare developed.
    • Book 1, Chapter 10 “Lost Hopes” (p. 336)
  • I knew that it was human nature which lay at the root of History and that no matter where I found myself I was bound to discover superficial similarities expressing and exemplifying that nature. It was human idealism and human impatience and human despair which continued to produce these terrible wars. Human virtues and vices, mixed and confused in individuals, created what we called “History”. Yet I could see no way in which the vicious circle of aspiration and desperation might ever be broken. We were all victims of our own imagination.
    • Book 2, Chapter 1 “The Camp on Rishiri” (p. 339)
  • “To me politics is just a matter of getting the engineering right. If you have a machine which functions properly without much attention, then it’s obviously a good machine. That’s what politics should be about. And if the machine has simple working parts which any layman can understand, then it’s, as it were, your democratic machine. Am I right or am I wrong?”
    “Crazy,” said Makhno, and scratched his nose.
    “What?”
    “You’re not right or wrong. You’re crazy.”
    • Book 2, Chapter 1 “The Camp on Rishiri” (p. 342)
  • I have learned from my experiences that hatred and racial antagonism can be manufactured by the politicians of any one country against any other, so I was no longer the patriot I had been.
    • Book 2, Chapter 2 “Back in Service” (p. 350)
  • Socialists are always quarreling amongst themselves, because of the strong element of messianism in their creeds.
    • Book 2, Chapter 2 “Back in Service” (p. 353)
  • This could be the beginning of Civil War. There is no kind more distressing, no kind which so rapidly describes the pointlessness of human killing human. I have been fated, for a reason I cannot comprehend or for no reason at all, to witness the worst examples of insane warfare (and all warfare, it seems to me now, is that) and having to listen to the most ridiculous explanations as to its “necessity” from otherwise perfectly rational people, I have long since become weary, Moorcock, of the debate. If I appear to you to be in a more reconciled mood than when your grandfather first met me it is because I have learned that no individual is responsible for War—that we are all, at the same time, individually responsible for the ills of the human condition. In learning this, (and I am about to tell you how I learned it) I also learned a certain tolerance for myself and for others which I had never previously possessed.
    • Book 2, Chapter 4 “The Black Ships” (p. 359)
  • “We are still ruled, in some ways, by our Church. We are a people more cursed by religion and its manifestations and assumptions than any other. The Steel Tsar, with his messianic socialism, offers us religion again, perhaps. You English have never had quite the same need for God. We have known despair and conquest too often to ignore Him altogether.” He shrugged. “Old habits, Mr Bastable. Religion is the panacea for defeat. We have a great tendency to rationalize our despair in mystical and utopian terms.”
    • Book 2, Chapter 4 “The Black Ships” (p. 361)
  • “Petersburg socialism seems cold to the likes of our Cossacks, who would rather worship personalities than embrace ideas.”
    I shared his irony. “You make them sound like Americans.”
    • Book 2, Chapter 4 “The Black Ships” (p. 361)
  • “Are you trying to talk peace terms?”
    “I’ve given that up,” said Makhno. “It doesn’t appear to work. You mention peace and everyone tries to shoot you or jail you.”
    • Book 2, Chapter 5 “A Question of Attitudes” (p. 368)
  • Unlike so many politicians or military leaders they made no attempt to justify their mistakes, to cling to power. For them power held enormous responsibility and was merely invested in them temporarily.
    • Book 2, Chapter 5 “A Question of Attitudes” (p. 370)
  • Like so many fanatics, he possessed an appalling streak of timidity and terror which feared all that was not absolutely familiar. As his power increased, he would doubtless attempt to destroy anything that made him anxious.
    • Book 2, Chapter 7 “A Mechanical Man” (p. 384)
  • Light suddenly caught the steel of his helmet and made it burn like the face of some mighty fallen angel. It could have been the face of Lucifer himself. I felt then that he was perfectly capable of destroying the whole world without a shred of remorse if he believed that he could not, himself, go on living. Such creatures, I remember thinking, have always dwelt among us. They would reduce the multiverse to ash, if they could. Why, I agonized, can we not recognize them and stop them before they achieve so much power? A tiny part of the human race was responsible for the misery of the majority.
    I thought again of the injustices which we ourselves casually perpetrated and I wondered how we should ever set anything to rights while we continued to allow such vast discrepancy, so much at odds with the religious and political principles we claim as our daily guides.
    • Book 2, Chapter 7 “A Mechanical Man” (p. 386)
  • I understood that it was only the very best in us, our capacity for love and self-respect, that enabled us to survive in a perpetually fragmenting multiverse. Only our deepest sense of justice allowed us to remain sane and relish the wonders of chaotic Time and Space, to be free at least of fear. Further violence would bring only an endless chain of bloodshed and an inevitable descent of our race into bestiality and ultimate insentience. To survive, we must love.
    • Book 2, Chapter 7 “A Mechanical Man” (pp. 388-389)
  • It remained difficult for me to understand how some people are simply born mentally deformed, lacking all the natural moral restraints and imagination which dictate the actions of most of us, however partially. Such creatures have learned from childhood to ape the appropriate sentiments when it suits them, to charm or bully their opponents, to agree to anything, to tell any lie and to pursue their own ends with implacable determination.
    “Such men and women are the true aliens amongst you and it is ironic how frequently we come to rule you. We use your very best instincts and deepest emotions against you. We convince you that we alone can satisfy your need for security and comfort and then we drain you dry of everything save perpetual terror. Ha, ha, ha!”
    • Book 2, Chapter 7 “A Mechanical Man” (p. 389)
  • “You were both catalysts,” Mrs Persson told me, “no more than that. Do you still not realize your error? No individual can claim so much personal guilt. It is madness to do so. We are all guilty of supporting the circumstances, the self-deceptions, the misconceptions and misinformation which lead to War. Every lie we tell ourselves brings an evil like the destruction of Hiroshima closer. We drown in our lies.”
    • Book 2, Chapter 7 “A Mechanical Man” (p. 394)
  • But we are all victims, Captain Bastable, just as in other ways we are all aggressors. At root we are victims to the comforting lies we tell ourselves, of our willingness to shift moral responsibility onto leaders, organized religion—onto a deity or a race, if all else fails. Onto God, onto politicians, onto creatures from other planets. It is always the same impulse, to refuse responsibility. If we do not take responsibility for our own actions, ultimately we perish.
    • Book 2, Chapter 7 “A Mechanical Man” (p. 395)
  • It’s in the nature of a good despot to say anything that will convince someone to do as he wishes. Only when he does not need them does he really say what he thinks. And by that time, of course, because he has no need of them, they are usually as good as dead. The secret of becoming a successful tyrant lies in an early ability to be all things to all people.
    • Book 2, Chapter 7 “A Mechanical Man” (p. 397)
  • “Oh, I believe very much in cause and effect,” she said, “but not in the linear sense. Every action has a proliferation of consequences. We can’t remain alive without being responsible for thousands of actions and their consequences. We simply have to live with that fact and decide, morally if you like, how to formulate a civilized, secure environment for ourselves. So far we haven’t succeeded.”
    • Book 2, Chapter 8 “Revolutions” (p. 410)
  • Here the idea of God has been replaced by the idea of the Future. The two notions are, admittedly, all but identical in the way in which they are self-contradictory and thus always fundamentally confusing to their worshippers, who must look to priests for translation, and so inevitably the priests (or whatever they call them) gradually take power...
    • Book 2, Chapter 8 “Revolutions” (p. 413)
  • I realized I was fulfilling mankind’s greatest dream—to fly like a bird, as naturally and as joyously as if the air were our familiar habitat.
    • Book 2, Chapter 8 “Revolutions” (p. 419)
  • She was grumbling. “The least he could have done was drop us near a town. Although in these parts they’d probably burn us as witches before asking any questions.” She shuddered. “I’m an awful snob about peasants, I’m afraid.”
    I mentioned dryly that I thought those of her political persuasion had some sort of egalitarian duty to resist such prejudice. “Egalitarianism isn’t about prejudices,” she said, “it’s about equal shares of power. It’s the only means we have of steering some sort of even course through a future which is forever, by the very nature of the multiverse, unguessable. We have only institutions and a crude, fragile kind of democracy standing between us and absolute Chaos. That is why we must value and protect those institutions. And be forever reexamining them.”
    • Book 2, Chapter 8 “Revolutions” (p. 419)
  • What good is a martyr, Captain Bastable? A martyr shows us the power of faith. But what if that faith is misinformed? While people believe in heroes and the magic power of an individual to save them from the human condition, they will never be free.
    • Book 2, Chapter 8 “Revolutions” (p. 422)
  • “We are all guilty,” he said. “We are all innocent. Only when we accept responsibility for our own actions do we become free. And only when every one of us accepts their share of responsibility will the world become safe for us all.”
    • Book 2, Chapter 8 “Revolutions” (p. 422)
  • Violence creates nothing but violence, no matter what we call it and what the excuse. And so it goes, down all the centuries.
    • Book 2, Chapter 8 “Revolutions” (p. 423)

The War Hound and the World's Pain (1981)[edit]

Page numbers from the author’s final revised version included in the omnibus trade paperback edition Von Bek published by White Wolf Publishing ISBN 1-56504-192-5
  • That evening I lit many candles and sat in the library wearing fresh linen and drinking good wine while I read a treatise on astronomy by a student of Kepler’s and reflected on my increasing disagreement with Luther, who had judged reason to be the chief enemy of Faith, of the purity of his beliefs. He had considered reason a harlot, willing to turn to anyone’s needs, but this merely displayed his own suspicion of logic. I have come to believe him the madman Catholics described him as. Most mad people see logic as a threat to the dream in which they would rather live, a threat to their attempts to make the dream reality (usually through force, through threat, through manipulation and through bloodshed). It is why men of reason are so often the first to be killed or exiled by tyrants.
    • Chapter 1 (pp. 11-12)
  • One can act too much in the cause of self-preservation and experience nothing fresh as a result.
    • Chapter 2 (p. 25)
  • “Could you punish a heretic?”
    “Madam, I do not know what a heretic really is. The word is made much of, these days. It seems to describe anyone you wish dead.”
    • Chapter 2 (p. 27)
  • Scholarly men were suspect in my town. Women could not admit to scholarship at all. Men are afraid of two things in this world, it seems—women and knowledge. Both threaten their power, eh?
    • Chapter 2 (p. 31)
  • “In Hell you become what you fear yourself to be. In Heaven you may become what you hope yourself to be,” said Lucifer.
    • Chapter 3 (p. 42)
  • I said: “Then in reality I had little choice.”
    “Let us say that your character has already determined your choice.”
    • Chapter 3 (p. 48)
  • I had always claimed to welcome the truth; yet now, in common with most of us, I was resentful of the truth because it called upon me to take an unwelcome course of action.
    • Chapter 4 (p. 55)
  • “I understand you now. But surely, if Lucifer is successful, we shall all be saved.”
    The Wildgrave’s smile was bitter. “What logic provides you with that hope, von Bek? If God is merciful, He provides us with little evidence.”
    • Chapter 6 (p. 79)
  • At that moment I railed against a God who could condemn such an innocent soul to Purgatory. What had Sedenko done that was not the result of his upbringing or his religion, which encouraged him to kill in the name of Christ? It came to me that perhaps God had become senile, that He had lost His memory and no longer remembered the purpose of placing Man on Earth. He had become petulant, He had become whimsical. He retained His power over us, but could no longer be appealed to. And where was His Son, who had been sent to redeem us? Was God’s Plan not so much mysterious as impossible for us to accept: because it was a malevolent one?
    • Chapter 7 (pp. 85-86)
  • It had been some years since I had lost my Faith, save in my own capacity to survive a world at War, but evidently in the back of my mind there had always been some sense that through God one might find salvation. Now, as I journeyed in quest of the Holy Grail (or something identified as the Holy Grail), I not only questioned the possibility that salvation existed; I questioned whether God’s salvation was worth the earning. Again I began to see the struggle between God and Lucifer as nothing more than a squabble between petty princelings over who should possess power in a tiny, unimportant territory. The fate of the tenants of that territory did not much seem to matter to them; and even the reward of those tenants’ loyalty seemed thin enough to me.
    • Chapter 8 (pp. 91-92)
  • I watched him while he moved about in the nearby spinney below, bending and straightening, shaking snow from the sticks he found, and for some reason was reminded of the parable of Abraham and his son. Why should one serve a God who demanded such insane loyalty, who demanded that one deny the very humanity He was said to have created?
    • Chapter 8 (p. 92)
  • Again that smile of exquisite and self-congratulatory piety.
    • Chapter 8 (p. 98)
  • Do not speculate, Sedenko, on things for which no evidence exists. You will waste your time.
    • Chapter 9 (p. 103)
  • “What more could you need?”
    I smiled in self-mockery. “Reassurance, I suppose.”
    “That must come from your own judgment, from your own testing of your conscience. It is the only kind of reassurance worth having, as I’m sure you would agree.”
    • Chapter 10 (p. 112)
  • Man is a rationalizing beast, if not a rational one.
    • Chapter 14 (p. 142)
  • “I shall know soon.” I hesitated. “I shall know if all these adventurings, all these ordeals, have been meaningless or not. Man struggles in the belief that he can, by dint of perseverance, affect his own destiny. And all those efforts, I think, lead to nothing but ruin.
    • Chapter 15 (p. 149)
  • “Despair leads to many forms of thought,” said the magus, “and many kinds of action. Despair drives some to greater sanity, towards an analysis of the world as it is and what it might be. Others it drives to deep and dangerous insanity, towards an imposition of their own desires upon reality. I sympathize with your despair, Johannes Klosterheim, because it has no solace, in the end. Your despair is the worst there is to know. And yet men often look upon the likes of you and envy you, as you doubtless envy Duke Arioch, as Duke Arioch doubtless envies his master Lucifer, whom he would betray, and perhaps as Lucifer envied God. And what does God envy, I wonder? Perhaps he envies the simple mortal who is content with his lot and envies nobody.”
    • Chapter 15 (p. 153)
  • When he was dead I raised myself to my feet and I looked about me. Everything was still. A loneliness had come upon my soul.
    There was darkness everywhere now but in the forest. And even here there were wisps of grey, as if evil crept in.
    I lifted my head to the sky and I shook my fist. “Oh, I reject you. I reject your Heaven and I reject your Hell. Do as you wish with me, but know that your desires are petty and your ambitions have no meaning!”
    I addressed no one. I addressed the universe. I addressed a void.
    • Chapter 15 (p. 154)
  • “The marvelous is of necessity a lie, a distortion. At best it is a metaphor which leads to the truth. I think that I know what causes the World’s Pain, lady. Or at least I think I know what contributes to that Pain.”
    “And what would that be, Ulrich von Bek?”
    “By telling a single lie to oneself or to another, by denying a single fact of the world as it has been created, one adds to the World’s Pain. And pain, lady, creates pain. And one must not seek to become saint or sinner, God or Devil. One must seek to become human and to love the fact of one’s humanity.”
    I became embarrassed. “That is all I have learned, lady.”
    “It is all that Heaven demands,” she said.
    • Chapter 16 (p. 158)
  • Can Hell and Heaven be merely the difference between ignorance and knowledge?
    • Chapter 16 (p. 158)
  • “So you are still our Master,” said Sabrina. She was frowning. She had come to be afraid again.
    “Not so!” Lucifer turned, almost in rage. “You are your own masters. Your destiny is yours. Your lives are your own. Do you not see that this means an end to the miraculous? You are at the beginning of a new age for Man, an age of investigation and analysis.”
    “The Age of Lucifer,” I said, echoing some of His own irony.
    He saw the joke in it. He smiled.
    “Man, whether he be Christian or pagan, must lean to rule himself, to understand himself, to take responsibility for himself. There can be no Armageddon now. If Man is destroyed, he shall have destroyed himself.”
    “So we are to live without aid,” said Sabrina. Her face was clearing.
    “And without hindrance,” said Lucifer. “It will be your fellows, your children and their children who will find the Cure for the World’s Pain.”
    “Or perish in the attempt,” said I.
    “It is a fair risk,” said Lucifer. “And you must remember, von Bek, that it is in my interest that you succeed. I have wisdom and knowledge at your disposal. I always had that gift for Man. And now that I may give it freely I choose not to do so. Each fragment of wisdom shall be earned. And it shall be hard-earned, captain.”
    • Chapter 18 (p. 166)
  • “Are you still afraid?” I asked her.
    “No,” she said, “I am thankful. The world has been threatened too long by the extraordinary, the supernatural and the monstrous. I shall be happy enough to smell the pines and hear the song of the thrush. And to be with you, Captain von Bek.”
    “The world is still threatened,” I said to her, “but perhaps not by Lucifer. I held her hand tightly.
    • Chapter 18 (p. 166)
  • I pray, in short, that God exists, that Lucifer brings about His own Redemption and that mankind therefore shall in time be free of them both forever: for until Man makes his own justice according to his own experience, he will never know what true peace can be.
    • Chapter 18 (p. 168)

The City in the Autumn Stars (1986)[edit]

Page numbers from the author’s final revised version included in the omnibus trade paperback edition Von Bek published by White Wolf Publishing ISBN 1-56504-192-5
  • But now the Mob’s passing whim had become the only law, as Robespierre himself would soon discover. I felt cruelly betrayed: by the Revolution, by men I had embraced as brothers, by Circumstance, and, as always, by God.
    • Chapter 1 (p. 177)
  • Once rich, moreover, I should again travel easily about Europe, for while in the public eye a poor radical is dangerous rogue, a rich radical is merely an eccentric gentleman!
    • Chapter 1 (p. 181)
  • This vast pile of natural beauty, those crags and fir trees and hovering hawks, those echoing ravines and vast tumblings of snow and earth, brought me swiftly to the understanding of my own insignificance and, indeed, the insignificance of all human struggle.
    • Chapter 2 (pp. 194-195)
  • “He’s vain. His vanity’s hurt by the world’s refusal to accept his remedies and become immediately Enlightened. And what does a vain man do when insulted, Sir?”...“He lashes out, Sir,” says I. “He seeks to portion blame. He fumes, Sir. He attacks. In the case before us, such is his despotic power, he kills. He kills, Sir. He wars on other nations. Mary’s blood, Sir, but this poor sphere of ours suffers more from the single, frustrated egoist than from any natural—or supernatural—misery. Your own Church’s history, Sir, illustrates my point well enough, eh? We are too frequently in the power of mad children, who rage and stamp and break Kingdoms as they break toys. They order thousands of deaths a day as if they were spoiled brats kicking at their dolls!”
    • Chapter 2 (pp. 197-198; ellipsis represents a minor elision of description)
  • I had sampled several such brotherhoods, including the Rosey Cross and the Orange Lodge, during the period in which I examined the Supernatural and found it not merely uninstructive but damnably dull, its members possessing nothing in the way of individual imagination and a great need to seek confirmation in numbers for the merits of miserable little madnesses....Such people as a rule were lonely, confounded misfits, attempting to alter the surrounding evidence of Nature by inventing abstractions to explain why common facts were false and ordinary reality a poor illusion.
    • Chapter 3 (p. 210; ellipsis represents a minor elision of description)
  • An unquestioned creed is a noose about the throat of Reason.
    • Chapter 3 (p. 211)
  • His stated principle is that all knowledge should be at the public disposal. He argues against the hoarding of scientific discoveries, believing that the miserly act of secretion is in itself bound to produce fear and unnecessary caution in the mind of the citizen. Superstitious destruction of the unfamiliar is its most common expression. Prince Badehoff-Fischer argues that in such matters a secret is parallel, if not identical, to a lie. Both occur because one body seeks power over another.
    • Chapter 4 (p. 226)
  • “It’s never ‘should’ with engineers, my old friend, but ‘how’? Have you not learned that much?”
    • Chapter 4 (p. 231)
  • The English, I now know, eat mashed fish and deviled sheep’s hearts to guarantee a bad digestion (and consequent irritability). It is their abominable cooking which has given them half the world as their Empire.
    • Chapter 5 (p. 245)
  • I had learned, after all, to trust neither religion nor politics and to put my faith in the realities of metal, wood and steam, in practical engineering, whose rules could neither be changed nor made the subject of morality, so why should I show reverence for mere antiquity?
    • Chapter 5 (p. 262)
  • If you were to believe all the old, degenerate German legends, there’s a Grail in every castle, a Charlemagne or an Arthur under every mound! There not a noble house without at least one werewolf offspring or a younger son who’s made a pact with the Devil, an uncle practising the profane arts of alchemy, a vampirical grandfather, a mad monk, a ruined abbey in the grounds where witches meet, an incarcerated lunatic (or heiress—or both), an infanticide or two (and a patricide), and, of course, a family ghost.
    • Chapter 5 (p. 263)
  • In other words, the listener’s own picture was painted in the shining coulours St Odhran provided. By seeing what they wished, they also saw what he wished them to see. “They are the Orchestra,” he had told me earlier, “and I am merely the Conductor.”
    • Chapter 6 (p. 269)
  • Do you know what damnation can be, Sir? It can be a state of permanent caution, making one chronically unable to risk anything, even a risk which might save one from extinction.
    • Chapter 7 (p. 283)
  • My instinct shouted “Conspiracy” but my head reasoned “Coincidence”.
    • Chapter 8 (p. 291)
  • Did God truly build and populate a small planet for His own purposes; perhaps merely to relieve His boredom?
    • Chapter 8 (p. 294)
  • Warlocks and witches debate to determine how to make their broomsticks fly again. But how shall they ever come together in strength? Even if your ideas had any truth, they’re so frequently, by their very character, at odds. Each claims to hold the key to the only wisdom. That’s where natural philosophers, who do not impose what they need to believe (or at least not so readily!) upon the world, but analyze what they see, have the strong advantage.
    • Chapter 9 (p. 310)
  • Destiny was apparently a word describing an individual’s desperate need for certainty.
    • Chapter 12 (p. 349)
  • I guessed he experienced the terrible confusion of a true solipsist when the outer world impinges.
    • Chapter 13 (p. 357)
  • Better wicked Lucifer for a master, thought I, than a pious Tyrant!
    • Chapter 13 (p. 361)
  • My bargain with God included the undertaking that I should play no direct part, merely supervise mankind’s self-redemption. Like yourself, my agents are those whose independence of thought is already well-established.
    • Chapter 13 (p. 367; the speaker is Lucifer)
  • Redefine the terms by which Man views the world, and thus eventually you redefine the world itself.
    • Chapter (p. 367)
  • My own self-deception at least promised some kind of pleasure. Theirs offered nothing but terror and guilt.
    • Chapter 14 (p. 375)
  • I must believe you doomed to eternal life, but also to eternal repetition! Your true doom is simple to me. You lack brains, Sir.
    • Chapter 14 (p. 376)
  • We’ll build a world where Order shall prevail. A few more deaths are inconsequential, surely, if they guarantee us eternal life and absolute fulfillment?
    • Chapter 14 (p. 376)
  • “Are you aware we anticipate the Apocalypse, von Bek?”
    “The obsession’s common enough, Montsorbier, amongst ignorant folk.”
    • Chapter 14 (p. 377)
  • You may be abandoned by Satan, Sir, and I abandoned by God, but that does not put us in the same cart, nor even upon the same road.
    • Chapter 17 (p. 406)
  • He had thought his wars over. Now he realized peace had been merely a lull.
    • Chapter 17 (p. 407)
  • You’re as worthless as one of that decrepit mob. Lucifer has rejected you. Now mankind rejects you. Have the good taste, Sir, to accept a fact!
    • Chapter 17 (p. 408)
  • You are martyred, as woman is ever martyred, particularly if she seeks her own power.
    • Chapter 19 (p. 446)
  • Thus woman trusts in man down all the years and so, as always, is betrayed.
    • Chapter 19 (p. 446)

The Dragon in the Sword (1986)[edit]

Page numbers from the author’s final revised version included in the omnibus trade paperback edition Von Bek published by White Wolf Publishing ISBN 1-56504-192-5
  • Time is at once an agony of the Present, a long torment of the Past and the terrible prospect of countless Futures. Time is also a complex of subtly intersecting realities, of unguessable consequences and undiscoverable causes, of profound tensions and dependencies.
    • Prologue (p. 463)
  • How true it is when they say there is nothing which makes a man more furious than the discovery that he has deceived himself!
    • Book 1, Chapter 4 (p. 509)
  • “Evil flourishes best in disguise,” said Otto grimly. His companions nodded in assent.
    “And the best disguise is simple” said the youth, Federit Shaus. “Honest patriotism. Joyful idealism.”
    “You’re a cynic, lad,” von Bek smiled at him. “But sadly my own experience would support your view. Show me a man who cries ‘my country right or wrong’, and I’ll show you one who’d cheerfully murder half his own nation in the name of patriotism.”
    • Book 2, Chapter 3 (p. 550)
  • “Women are always underestimated by men,” said Alisaard, a note of satisfaction in her voice, “and this enables them sometimes to gather far more power to themselves than the men suspect.”
    • Book 2, Chapter 4 (p. 557)
  • Often people fight hardest of all to preserve a delusion. And they will frequently persecute those who challenge that delusion.
    • Book 2, Chapter 4 (p. 559)
  • Your imagination is notoriously poor. Not everyone holds identical ambitions to your own!
    • Book 2, Chapter 4 (p. 560)
  • Her smile was all pride. I had seen many like her in the past. She believed herself cleverer than she was because it suited others to let her maintain that delusion.
    • Book 2, Chapter 4 (p. 561)
  • By acting as they would act, we become what they are. And if we are what they are, then there is little point in resisting them!
    • Book 2, Chapter 4 (p. 564)
  • Let us say that those who do insist on a hearing will be silenced soon enough. There is a monotonous pattern to the rise of tyrants which, I suppose, is reflected in the general pattern of human folly. Depressing though it is, we must accept the fact.
    • Book 2, Chapter 5 (p. 568)
  • They’re Mabden, of course. They are afraid of the city. Afraid of almost everything. And being permitted no weapons with which they can attack what they fear, they are reduced to what you see. It seems the Mabden can only kill or run away. Their brains are of no use to them.
    • Book 2, Chapter 6 (p. 581)
  • Knowledge ceases to be wisdom when one has no method for making sense or use of what one learns.
    • Book 2, Chapter 7 (p. 591)
  • “She is in other words a classic demagogue,” said von Bek...“It was Hitler’s secret that he could seem one thing to one group and an entirely different thing to another. That is how they rise so swiftly to power. These creatures are bizarre. They can virtually change shape and colour. They have an amophous quality and yet at the same time they have a will to dominate others which is unrelenting, almost their only consistent trait, their only reality.”
    • Book 2, Chapter 9 (p. 612)
  • I at least had some knowledge of the warping, mutating power of the Lords of Disorder, the supernatural entities who on John Daker’s Earth would be called Arch-Demons, the Dukes of Hell. I knew that they made use of our most treasured virtues and most honoured emotions. That they were capable of almost any illusion. And that all that was keeping them from pouring forth from their stronghold to engulf so many other Realms of the multiverse was their caution, their unreadiness or unwillingness to war against the rival power of Law. But if we humans invited them to our realms, they would come.
    • Book 2, Chapter 9 (p. 613)
  • “Chaos has her moods and whims, that’s all. As I told you, she cannot remain stable. It is in her nature to be forever changing.”
    “While it is in the nature of Law,” Alisaard explained, “to be forever fixed. The Balance is there to ensure that neither Law nor Chaos ever gain complete ascendancy, for the one offers sterility while the other offers only sensation.”
    • Book 3, Chapter 1 (p. 626)
  • “For years my lady made her plans. And when the time came to put them into action, how wonderfully she was able to achieve her ambitions.”
    “Only because few rational people can ever begin to understand such a lust for power,” said von Bek feelingly. “There is nothing more puerile than the mind of a tyrant.”
    • Book 3, Chapter 1 (p. 629)
  • “This is the stuff which some Nazis wished to put into our churches,” whispered von Bek. “Pagan objects of worship which they claim are the symbols of a true German religion. They are almost as anti-Christian as they are anti-Semitic. It is as if they hate every system of thought which in any way questions their own mish-mash of pseudo-philosophy and mystical claptrap!” He stared at the altar in disgust. “They are the worst kind of nihilists. They cannot even see that they destroy everything and create nothing. Their invention is as empty as any inventions of Chaos I have seen. It has no true history, no concrete substance, no depth, no quality of intellect. It is merely a negation, a brutal denial of all Germany’s virtues.”
    • Book 3, Chapter 2 (p. 637)
  • I could scarcely believe that these were the men who had done so much to influence the course of my own world’s history. It now seemed obvious that all of them were drugged in some way. They were acting like silly children. And yet I suppose I should have realized that it is in the nature of all such creatures to be at heart infantile. Only children believe they can achieve enormous power over the world without paying a price for that power. And the price so often is the sanity of the one who seeks it.
    • Book 3, Chapter 2 (p. 641)
  • How paltry is the thing they call science. We have something far superior! We have Faith. We have a Force greater than Reason! We have a wisdom beyond mere knowledge. We have the Holy Grail itself. The Chalice of Limitless Power!
    • Book 3, Chapter 2 (p. 642; words spoken by Hitler)
  • “There could be an end to all this, when the Lords of the Higher Worlds and all the machinery of cosmic mystery shall be no more. And perhaps that is why they fear mortals so much. The secret of their destruction, I suspect, lies in us, though we have yet to realize our own power.”
    “And do you have a hint of what that power may be, Eternal Champion?” said Alisaard.
    I smiled. “I think it is simply the power to conceive of a multiverse which has no need of the supernatural, which, indeed, could abolish it if so desired!”
    • Book 3, Chapter 2 (p. 646)
  • I looked down at her shriveled corpse. It lay across that of her brother. One had represented the evil of the world, the other the good. Yet both had been defeated by pride, by ambition, by a promise of immortality.
    • Book 3, Chapter 4 (p. 669)
  • Indeed, to be a hero, forever at war, is to be in some ways always a child. The true challenge comes in making sense of one’s life, of imbuing it with purpose based on one’s own principles.
    • Epilogue (p. 687)

About[edit]

  • A whole tangle of series, possibly including everything Moorcock's written, not excluding his grocery lists, but I'm not sure; certainly includes most of his fantasy. Various subseries are declared complete every so often, as for example in an ad for the Last Elric Book in the current issue of F&SF; such declarations sometimes prove true, but on the other hand, I've seen several previous Last Elric Books.

External links[edit]

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