Feb 25 2010 10:23am

Six Degrees of Michael Moorcock

Michael Moorcock and J.G. Ballard at a signing for Empire of the Sun (presumably in 1984) at Forbidden Planet. (photo courtesy Michael Moorcock).Michael Moorcock knows everybody. Well, not quite, but after a spending any amount of time studying his diverse creative life as a writer, musician, and editor and it quickly becomes apparent that he has crossed paths with most of the entertainment world. We’re not just talking about those he’s worked just directly, though that list impresses: legendary writer J. G. Ballard, Nobel prize-winner Toni Morrison, Motörhead founder Lemmy, artist Michael Whelan, Wing Commander creator Chris Roberts, punk icons The Sex Pistols, and countless others. Much like the similar Kevin Bacon exercise, a “Six Degrees of Michael Moorcock” game is possible. But unlike Bacon, Moorcock’s work intersects the entire strata of entertainment media.

A few examples:


  • Kevin Bacon in four

Bacon(1) starred in a Few Good Men with Tom Cruise(2). Cruise starred in War of the Worlds. WotW director Steven Spielberg(3) also directed Empire of the Sun, which is based on the novel by J. G. Ballard(4). Ballard contributed regularly to the Moorcock-edited New Worlds.


  • H. P. Lovecraft in five

Lovecraft(1)’s agent was Julius Schwartz(2). Schwartz also represented Ray Bradbury(3). Bradbury served as the best man at Edmond Hamilton and Leigh Brackett(4)’s wedding. For the infamous Last Dangerous Visions anthology, Harlan Ellison(5) purchased a story by the duo as was a Moorcock tale.


  • William Shakespeare in three

In the 19th century, William Blake(2) famously illustrated a collection of Shakespeare(1)’s works. Peter Ackroyd(3) crafted the acclaimed biography Blake (1996). Ackroyd’s writings appeared in the Moorcock-edited New Worlds.


  • Britney Spears in six

Spears(1) starred in Tamra Davis(2) Crossroads. Davis directed Billy Madison with Darren McGavin(3), who famously portrayed the seventies supernatural-chasing TV reporter Kolchak. Richard Matheson(4) crafted the screenplay for the original Kolchak film, The Night Stalker. The first film adaptation of Matheson’s I Am Legend (The Last Man on Earth) featured Vincent Price(5). Price played the lead in Robert Fuest(6)’s The Abominable Dr. Phibes. Fuest directed and produced The Final Programme, the movie version of Michael Moorcock’s novel of the same name.


  • Will Eisner in four

Eisner(1) created The Spirit. When Quality reprinted the originally black & white strips in the early forties, Joe Kubert(2) colored them. In 1976, Kubert founded the Joe Kubert School of Cartoon and Graphic Art. One of his graduates, Stephen R. Bissette(3) collaborated with writer Alan Moore(4) on Saga of the Swamp Thing. Moore later created Tom Strong. With Moore’s blessing, Moorcock wrote two issues of that comic.


  • Danielle Steele in four

Steele(1)’s literary agent is Morton Janklow(2). In 1998, Janklow partnered with Lynn Nesbit(3) to form Jankow and Nesbit Associates. Prior to that, Nesbit worked for the International Creative Management, where she represented Toni Morrison(4). Morrison edited the first American edition of Moorcock’s Breakfast In the Ruins.


  • Billie Holliday in five

In her only major film appearance, Holliday(1) performed in New Orleans (1947) opposite Louis Armstrong(2). One of the pallbearers at Armstrong’s funeral was Ed Sullivan(3). The Beatles(4) famously appeared on The Ed Sullivan Show (three consecutive Sundays in February, 1964). Dave Edmunds(5) played with ex-Beatles Paul McCartney, George Harrison, and Ringo Starr. As part of Hawkwind, Moorcock recorded several times at Dave Edmunds’ music studios.


While an argument exists that we are all within six degrees of anyone, most of the Moorcock connections happened in less than five. Practically everyone in sf/f , who started their careers after 1950, fell within that group, as did a large number of filmmakers and musicians post 1950.

How many Moorcock connections do you see?

Jayme Blaschke
1. Jayme Blaschke
You can go right ahead and cut Dave Edmunds out of that last chain, because Mike worked for Apple Corp. for a time. I'm surprised you missed that, Rick!
Rick Klaw
2. RickKlaw
I'm sure there are some easier ways on some of the ones listed (HPL and MM probably have appeared in several anthologies together), but I think I successfully proved my point.
Mike Dominic
3. MDominic
Let me tighten up one of those for you....
Will Eisner in 2:
Eisner(1) created "The Spirit" which was recently reincarnated by DC Comics. Walter Simonson (2) provided art for issue 7 of that series. Simonson also did the art for "Michael Moorcock's Multiverse", created and written by, natch, Michael Moorcock.

And let me prove your point by connecting him to my own humble, shamelessly self-promoting self in three, if I can be so bold as to include Tor itself as one:

Dominic (1) provided art fot the forthcoming album "Sky Club" from Mack Maloney (2) and crew. Maloney's new novel "The Pirate Hunters" is forthcoming from Tor/Forge (3) in April. In March, Tor/Forge is also releasing "Hawkmoon: The Mad God's Amulet" by Michael Moorcock.

I'm a nobody in the "biz" and I'm still only two degrees away, which makes this very cool indeed.
Jayme Blaschke
4. Tim W.
I get down to 1 in a non-literary way: I played recorder on "The Entropy Tango," written and sung by Moorcock and released on the album Alien Injection by Spirits Burning.
Alex Brown
6. AlexBrown
Ok, let's try this again...somehow I got flagged as spam, and I think it was because I linked to the imdb page for New Orleans. Point being, it's Billie Holiday, as is the late, great jazz and blues singer, not Billy Holliday.
Jayme Blaschke
8. Polonius
You can get from Shakespeare to Moorcock in two using Ackroyd, as he's also written a biography of the Bard. So there's no need for William Blake in there.
Rick Klaw
9. RickKlaw
Got this from Moorcock:
I didn't work for Apple but I did appear at the Royal Albert Hall with Macca and Alan Ginsberg...
Nick Karayev
10. Malabar
With all due respect - wasn't Julius Schwartz also Ed Hamilton's agent? And Mike knew Leigh Brackett in person. So Lovecraft must actually be "in three".
Jayme Blaschke
11. Daniel V. Gomes
My uncle is acquainted with Palocci, former Brazilian minister who met Bush and Obama and many other state leaders. Two years ago, Moorcock kindly sent me some signed bookplates. Well, if that directly connects Michael to me, I am a constant poster at his official web site and I know lots of people there.

Subscribe to this thread

Receive notification by email when a new comment is added. You must be a registered user to subscribe to threads.
Post a comment