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Interview de Michael Moorcock 2008 VO

Interview de Michael Moorcock 2008 VO

ActuSF : Let’s begin with the oldest story, The Pleasure Garden of Felipe Sagittarius. How did you get the idea ?
Michael Moorcock : This was a story I wrote soon after the first Jerry Cornelius book in 1965 or 66.  I was looking for ways of dealing in fiction with the big events of the 20th century.  The story started off as a kind of Hammett/Chandler noir detective story investigating a murder.  The difference is that it is set in a Berlin turned mostly to rubble by some recent, unstated, event.  The suspects include Hitler and other figures of the day seen as 'ordinary' people whose jobs vaguely suit what we know of Bismark, Hitler, Himmler etc.  I abandoned this technique in favour of the Cornelius technique, since it was at the time more flexible and useful.  In recent years, doing considerable research, much of it original, into the causes and circumstances of the Nazi's attempted extermination of the Jews I realised that I needed some other technique to deal with issues arising from that work which were not covered by the Pyat novels for which I was doing the research.  I recalled the first metatemporal investigator story and realised that the techniques were perfect, for instance, for dealing with Hitler's private life and so on.  My interest has always been where 'the child is father to the man' in my examination of historical events and so the metatemporal investigator, Seaton Begg (an homage to Sexton Blake, hero of English fuilletons through 70 years or so), came into existence, examining the corruption of British politics and business under Thatcher (Lady Hatchet) or the moral corruption in German politics which allowed the rise of Hitler.  These stories, which I think successful or unsuccesful dependant upon how well they confront 20th century and contemporary political events, were the result.

ActuSF : You’ve often challenged yourself with uchrony, especially with WWII. Why this period ?
Michael Moorcock :  I have no interest at all in the mechanics of WW2 -- only in how Hitler and Co managed to achieve and maintain power from 1933 to, say, 1940.  I'm interested in the origins, not the event itself.  We all know what happened during the events of 1940-1945 -- what we need to know, I think, is HOW they came to be.  This is best understood, I think, by studying the personal histories of some of the main players.

ActuSF : You’ve characterized Hitler, which is not a very common thing to read these days. Do you think that’s something to politically uncorrect today ? Would you write it the same way in 2008 ?
Michael Moorcock :  Yes.  I'm interested in political understanding, not what is correct.  In fact you HAVE to look at these things if you are doing your job as a writer.  You have to ask the unasked questions!

ActuSF : Did you kept memories form The Frozen Cardinal’s genesis ?
Michael Moorcock : I wrote that story in the 60s, too.  Judith Merrill was a fiction editor for Playboy and commissioned the story.  When I saw Playboy's 'rewrite sheets' I withdrew the story and when Maxim Jackubowski asked for a story for an anthology involving sf and music, that was the obvious choice -- I had it already.  

ActuSF : The background of this short story is very intriguing, and we would like to know more about it. Did you ever think about developing this background any further, in novels or short stories ?
Michael Moorcock : I'm not sure I thought about any more background than is there.  I have to say I had no further ideas about the background, which had more to do with the characters than anything else.  Sorry I can't tell you more.

ActuSF : London Bone is more contemporary, more in the mood of today. How did get the idea of this short story ?
Michael Moorcock : I was riffing off the idea of how so much of our past is almost instantly commodified by modern thatcherism.  I hate it.  It's why I left London!  Too much of my past has been repackaged, sanitised and sold off to 'heritage developers'.

ActuSF : Is London an inspiring entity of yours ?
Michael Moorcock : Yes.  It continues to inspire.  But Paris is also an inspiration.  The only other city to offer the resonances I need!

ActuSF : A Slow Saturday Night at The Surrealist Sporting Club is quite a satyrical piece settled in a Gentlemen’s Club. How did you get the idea ? Did you ever think about toying around once more with those gentlemen ?
Michael Moorcock : That is one of two stories I wrote as an homage to Maurice Richardson, who wrote the original Surrealist Sporting Club stories in the 1950s (for the first original 'digest size' magazine Lilliput, started in the late 30s by emigres from Hitler's Germany and a wonderful magazine both for photography, features and fiction for most of its existence into the early 60s -- ran many of my favourite writers from the 40s and 50s in particular).  The other story was written for Nature, the scientific journal.  Richardson's abiding enthusiasms were for sport, surrealism and crime!  He was an early promoter of Simenon in the UK as well as for certain surrealists.

ActuSF : Let’s talk about Metatemporal Detective. Could introduce our readers with the adventures of Seaton Begg and Dr Taffy Sinclair ?
Michael Moorcock :  As I said above, their adventures are intended to deal with key events of the 20th century -- and occasionally the 21st.  One story will deal with Thatcher, another with Hitler, another with Bush and the neocons.  The stories set in France have more to do with atmosphere and my own love of Paris and French fiction.

ActuSF : Alright… The regular one about Elric : The Movie. Did you get some news ?
Michael Moorcock : The movie is in script form and as far as I know Universal still plan to make it.  I'm currently waiting for news from Chris Weitz.

ActuSF : What are you working on at this very moment ?
Michael Moorcock : My memoir of Mervyn and Maeve Peake -- Lovers.   A humorous novel called London, My Life; or, The Sedentary Jew -- he's cursed to remain in London for eternity.   It might form part of a much larger plan for a novel called Alsatia -- the name given to a part of London which acted as a sanctuary for crooks and bankrupts in London for several hundred years, on land originally given to the Carmelites by a devout king...  A bunch of short stories including an Elric novella, White Steel and another story in my 'Experiences of WW3' sequence (the first, circa 1978, was 'Crossing into Cambodia'), a steampunk story about 'Inner Mars' and another Jerry Cornelius story.

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