Moorcock, Less Talk

Mar 3rd, 2006 | By | Category: Columns

“[Gloriana is] a marvelous book-the very finest Moorcock has ever written.”-Kensington Post

“Lady, I would your lips would touch this pounding prick (60).”-Gloriana

This month I had the distinct pleasure of discovering an author who has a name that cannot at all be linked to any raunchy jokes.

Michael Moorcock.

Moorcock is best known for his Elric novels, which focus on an anti-hero by the name of (surprise!) Elric. Moorcock deliberately wrote the trilogy as a challenge to fantasy cliches found in such works as J.R.R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings and Robert E. Howard’s Conan — testosterone laden fantasies Moorcock found to be redundant.

In translation: Moorcock wanted less cock.

In fact, Michael Moorcock has written extensively about his disgust for J.R.R. Tolkien. At one point he even compared J.R.R. Tolkien’s writings to Winnie the Pooh . So, like, Sauron was Winnie the Pooh and the One Ring is a scrumptious pot of honey? Dude that BLOWS my MIND. And I’m not even high today.

Moorcock also despises Robert Heinlein (he’s a xenophobe), H.P. Lovecraft (racist and misogynist) and Anne Rice (just because everyone else does and he didn’t want to be left out). I’m not a fan of H.P. Lovecraft either. Maybe I should say that I don’t like his works because he’s racist. That sounds cooler then explaining that I just don’t enjoy reading 5,000 words about a tree that looks like a dead man that is actually a tomb but not really a tomb but the tree grows over the tomb and is compared to a temple and not just any temple but a temple of evil from some god who is one of the Great Old Ones which harks back to Lovecraft’s Ctulhu mythos which just makes me think of “chipotle” and I’m really hungry and GOD GET TO THE POINT LOVECRAFT MY DINNER IS GETTING COLD.

Yes, much better to say he’s racist.

In fact I’m waiting for Moorcock’s essay on Angela Carter titled “Company Of Wolves: Angela Carter Advocates Bestiality, Cuz Obviously It’s Not a Metaphor and Everything Should Be Taken Literally.”  That’ll be awesome.

Award-winning because it has Moorcock

So, a writer with this much animosity towards the greats must be a fantastic novelist himself! Right? Right?!

Wrong. Because Michael Moorcock wrote Gloriana. A book that won the World Fantasy Award in 1979. And it’s about a queen who can’t have an orgasm. I swear that was a Sex and The City episode.

In fact, this 483-page novel, while breaking off into stories of political intrigue and murder, is focused on the main plotline of Gloriana and her inability to score a Big O. And she’s really unhappy about it! And she can’t rule her kingdom! Because orgasms are important to a woman! And the men in the novel are running around totally getting off and whipping maids; “Lord Montfallcon lay alone in his substantial bed while his wives in the next chamber rubbed ointments into one another’s wounds, whispering and gasping ” (210) and cutting young girls up with swords, “She had small breasts, not full as yet. He prinked at the tip of one with his sword (46)”. But don’t you dare say Michael Moorcock is a misogynist! You’re confusing him with that racist Lovecraft! And Poe ate babies!

This was surprising to me. Not the Poe thing, the Gloriana thing. After all, Moorcock appeared to be well-endowed with talent, and the concept of Gloriana had been intriguing. I assumed it would be a parallel world with a different Elizabeth I as ruler. Perhaps an Elizabeth who had married Robert Dudley or lost the Spanish Armada. Instead, I got Gloriana: The Queen Who Can’t Get No Satisfaction . In fact, this “Elizabeth” is nothing like the intelligent and complex woman who successfully ruled England for almost forty-five years:

“She stroked her flanks, not from any narcissism but abstractedly, wondering how such sensitive flesh as this could be so thoroughly stimulated and yet refuse to reward her with the release it had afforded the majority of those she lent it to (27).”

“The release it had afforded the majority of those she lent it to.” Lent it to? Is she a rental car? Can I lease the Queen Mum for $220 a month? I know that’s low, but shit–she’s got a lot of mileage on her.

But this Gloriana is certainly driven. In order to discover her orgasm, she has slept with all her maids, courtiers, dwarfs and even hairy giants. (The hairy giants are not a joke. Seriously, page 83. ) Gloriana even has an orgy corridor built underneath her castle. “Now they bowed, awaiting her pleasure, adoring her as they had always done; but with a word of affection she passed them by, pushing open the doors into another, darker cavern, filled with the odor of heated flesh, of blood, of salty juices, for this was where her flagellants convened, men and women, passive and dominant (81).”

So, is the orgy unending? Do they clock in and clock out? Is there at least a lunch break? Really, this is as great a mystery as the Phantom  and his basement pony .

After all the lack of misogyny and total respect for women and the introduction of all of Gloriana’s council which is just a bunch of fat men she seduced away from Country Buffet, Moorcock introduces the reader to Captain Quire. Captain Quire isn’t really a captain, but he wears a sombrero and likes to kill people for fun. He also likes to dally with the maids and make eyes at young men. It’s like he’s Valmont from Les Liaisons Dangereuses except he’s not interesting at all. “Captain Quire sat up on his grey and grease-veined bedsheet, flicking an ankle free of a blanket which clung to it like a dying rat, staring at a diffident young girl who, with a basket, had entered the seedy room (45).”

Ew. He could at least buy some fabric softener. Just because he’s evil doesn’t mean he wouldn’t like soft sheets that smell like springtime.

Now, I could continue on with a review of Gloriana, I won’t. Because frankly it’s awful and Captain Quire rapes Gloriana and she likes it and achieves her sought after orgasm and they fall in love. You know this book won an award? A prestigious award? Because I guess it’s supposed to be good? Do you see that anywhere? The part where it’s good? I didn’t think so.

I blame H.P. Lovecraft. Because he’s a racist.


Frequent target of fallen angels, Eileen hides from their seductive wrath in the hallowed confines of Defenestration HQ, where she hopes to erect a wall of words between herself and the forces of evil.

Tags: ,

Comments are closed.