Exclusive: Michael Moorcock Talks New Novel The Warlord of the Air
AMANDA DYAR: The Warlord of the Air wowed science fiction fans when it was originally published over 40 years ago. Why is the book finally making a comeback after so many years, and what qualities does the book and series contain that will continue to resonate with fans of the genre so many years after it was first released?
MICHAEL MOORCOCK: I think it's the steampunk phenomenon that's revived interest. The book was always one of my most popular and I had several film offers as well as influencing quite a lot of other books and movies. It gets mentioned a lot in features and books about steampunk. In some ways the story, which examines the idea of 'benign imperialism', is very relevant to the present day with the wars in the Middle East and elsewhere getting so much of our attention.
AMANDA: A Nomad of the Time Streams series stars the classic character Oswald Bastable as its main protagonist throughout the trilogy. Where did the original concept for your main character originate, and what allows him to be so recognizable and easy to relate with?
MICHAEL: I got the idea for the books from reading Fabians -- a socialist intellectual society very influential in the 20th century. Both H.G.Wells and E. Nesbit were members. Like many left-wing intellectuals of their day they thought imperialism could be benign, especially the British Empire. I wanted to show how imperialism was never benign. When we first encounter it in the book it seems pretty cool but gradually Bastable discovers otherwise. I proves to be pretty unpleasant. I also wanted to take a look at American imperialism which in the 60s and 70s had begun to be identified as such. Oswalde Bastable was Nesbit's popular character from Nesbit's children's books like The Treasure Seekers. She was a huge influence on C.S.Lewis's 'Narnia' series.
AMANDA: Bastable is sent to many alternate time lines throughout his journey in A Nomad of the Time Streams trilogy. What was the process like to create one of these intricate worlds and in what ways does our current world compare to those that you have created in your books?
MICHAEL: Really those worlds ARE our worlds with just a few changes. I don't want to give away major plot points but they're saying that even if certain things like the Russian Revolution or the Nazis hadn't happened our actions could still create the same major catastrophes because we allow the worst aspects of 'human nature' to control our decisions.
AMANDA: There are many important themes and political topics incorporated into your novels that are not always so easy to recognize at first glance. What is the ultimate takeaway you hope fans receive from reading The Warlord of the Air and the rest of the trilogy? Also, which of your other works should fans check out if they enjoyed A Nomad of the Time Streams series?
MICHAEL: All my books are connected, of course, but the Bastable books, with their focus on modern politics, probably have most in common with my Jerry Cornelius stories (such as The Final Programme) and my Colonel Pyat sequence beginning with Byzantium Endures. Bastable offers a sort of argument with the likes of H.G. Wells. Bastable also turns up in the last Elric series which began with The Dreamthief's Daughter (akaDaughter of Dreams). I hope the Bastable trilogy shows readers that events and historical differences don't make much difference to our lives unless we examine our actions more carefully and try not to repeat (as we did in the invasion of Iraq for instance) the mistakes of the past. I can't say too much more without introducing a few spoilers!
The Warlord of the Air released today, January 15, 2013, and can be purchased from several retailers online including Amazon.com and make sure to check out the official Titan Books website.