“While the Gods Laugh” by Michael Moorcock
(Originally published in Science Fantasy, October 1961. Selected as a 2016 Parsec Award finalist for Best Speculative Fiction Story: Small Cast.)
One night, as Elric sat moodily drinking alone in a tavern, a wingless woman of Myyrrhn came gliding out of the storm and rested her lithe body against him.
Her face was thin and frail-boned, almost as white as Elric’s own albino skin, and she wore flimsy pale-green robes which contrasted well with her dark red hair.
The tavern was ablaze with candle-flame and alive with droning argument and gusty laughter, but the words of the woman of Myyrrhn came clear and liquid, carrying over the zesty din.
“I have sought you twenty days,” she said to Elric who regarded her insolently through hooded crimson eyes and lazed in a high-backed chair, a silver wine-cup in his long-fingered right hand and his left on the pommel of his sorcerous runesword Stormbringer.
“Twenty days,” murmured the Melnibonéan softly, speaking as if to himself, mockingly rude. “A long time for a beautiful and lonely woman to be wandering the world.” He opened his eyes a trifle wider and spoke to her directly: “I am Elric of Melniboné, as you evidently know. I grant no favours and ask none. Bearing this in mind, tell me why you have sought me for twenty days.”
Michael Moorcock’s bibliography includes more than 50 novels and countless short stories, and his creations include Jerry Cornelius, Dorian Hawkmoon, and – perhaps his best known character – Elric of Melniboné, a seminal influence on fantasy fiction during the 1960s and 1970s.
Michael was editor of the controversial British science fiction magazine New Worlds from 1964-1971 and again from 1976-1996, where he was instrumental in the science fiction “New Wave”. In 2008, The Times named Moorcock as one of “The 50 greatest British writers since 1945”.
A feature-length documentary film exploring his six-decade career, Michael Moorcock: Faith, Hope, and Anxiety, is scheduled for release later this year.
Born in London, he currently divides his time between Texas and Paris.
About the Narrator:
Nicola Seaton-Clark lives in the wilds of (almost) Eastern Europe with her long-suffering husband, phenomenal children and a grumpy cat. Trained as an actress and singer, she has worked in entertainment for over 20 years and currently splits her time between writing speculative fiction, helping her husband run their voice-over company, Offstimme, and voicing everything from commercials and documentaries to public transport announcements. She also hosts this podcast…