Mike Moorcock on Barry Bayley

You met Barry around '57 or so, in the Globe. Do you remember much of your first meeting, and how you eventually decided to team up and collaborate?

I don't remember when I specifically met Barry, but I'm sure it would have been at the Globe around that time.. It seems to me we've been friends since time immemorial!

Barry had some real ideas and his ideas often sparked something in me. We frequently disagreed over how a story should be done, so after Duel we stopped collaborating on anything ambitious.

Your first published collaboration was "Peace on Earth" in 1959, which was then followed by "Going Home" (62) and "Flux" (63). Besides these, you also tried selling "Duel Among the Wine Green Suns" to Ted Carnell, who turned it down. Did you write, besides the juveniles and picture strips and such, stories which were unpublished?


As far as I recall, we didn't do any more collaborations on adult stuff after Duel Among The Wine Green Suns which was something of a disaster as far as the collaborative experiment went. I'm inclined to get up about eight hours earlier than Barry and not want to go to the pub at lunch before beginning work...

We were best when he took on a job of mine or I took on one of his. We did a lot of education stuff together with Barry doing the main substance of the science pieces and me doing the main substance of the historical/geographical pieces for papers like Look and Learn.

Was there a big difference in how you collaborated on the "adult" publications and the juvenile stuff?

By and large our collaborations were entirely commercial and most of the stuff we did was unsigned, though one of Barry's stories appeared under my name (to our horror Boys World started running bylines!).
[Going Home]

Do you have any specific recollections regarding the gestation of any of these stories?

I think GOING HOME was 'too short' for Ted Carnell, so Barry expanded it. I have a feeling that was how our collaborations tended to work, apart from Duel, when we lived together as we worked. Something of a mistake. I have a tendency to get down to a story and keep at it until it's finished, whereas Barry tends to cogitate, go out for a walk, a drink, a meal whatever and I found this absolutely nerve-wracking. The collaboration went on far longer than it should and resulted in a novella we couldn't sell. So there was no great incentive to continue with that, though as friends I'd say we continued to influence one another, but not very directly.

Nestor Makhno appears in your work under various guises, as well as in Barry's "Annihilation Factor" and some of his juveniles. Was he somebody you discussed at length, or was there some other significance he had to the work?

I think Makhno was one of our romantic heroes. I first read about him (as a villain) in one of Paustovski's volumes of memoirs. I think Barry read Paustovski, too. Might have been Barry who recommended him.

Barry mentions that most of the published "adult" works were your stories that he finished or expanded - can you describe the influence you had on each other; you apparently had quite different views about writing at the time? Or was it more about sharing and bouncing off ideas from each other, and perhaps from the whole of the Kingdon Road folk?

Are you mixing Kingdon Road (Dick Ellingsworth, Jim Lindwood, Alan -- ?) with Portland Road (Bayley, Disch, Sladek, Merril, Cawthorn ?). By the time Portland Road was running, Barry and I weren't collaborating at all, though I think he picked up on one or two of my jobs for Fleetway. Barry's memory could be better on all of this because I was in the nightmare of NW, which took up so much of my attention I've few memories of anything else!

The legend tells (or Andy Darlington, at least) that you two persuaded Ted Carnell into publishing Ballard's "Terminal Beach", not long before you took the reins of New Worlds. Do you have any recollections of that, and how big a turning point do you think it was for the magazine, and perhaps to the whole of SF at the time?

It's certainly true that Barry and I persuaded Ted Carnell to run Ballard's Terminal Beach, but it's also true that Ballard persuaded Carnell to run my Deep Fix. Ted was a little uncertain about this 'new stuff' and needed encouragement! I don't think we saw it as a turning point, just a bit of progress. We were convinced that everyone would prefer stuff like that!

What is it that appeals to you in Barry's work, and has that changed in the past forty years?

The thing that appeals to me about Barry's work is the quality and originality of his mind.

Do you still exchange thoughts on each others current work?

We don't really exchange ideas about work, no. Most of my efforts, these days, are spent trying to get a publisher interested in reprinting things like Soul and Knights.

I once asked Barry if the "slightly eccentric scientist" found in almost all of his work is a partial self portrait, as he has been a significant figure in his work from "The Star Virus" to Droopstalk in "A Crab Must Try". Barry wasn't sure if it was, and said people sometimes do that without knowing it. What do you think?

[Star Virus]

I think the barmy scientist (as it were) is a significant figure in Barry's work and I do think Barry identifies with that sort of eccentric. Living in comparative isolation and as close to Ironbridge as he does, with its important symbolism, I sometimes think he's much more of an 18th century 'natural philosopher' than a modern writer. He even looks a bit like Voltaire!

Did you know William Burroughs loved the Star Virus and wrote to tell me he'd used it as inspiration?

The idea of people as a virus very much appealed to Burroughs, who enjoyed at least some of Barry's work, though I don't know how much he read. Burroughs definitely recognised the originality of mind.

interview copyright 1999 by Mike Moorcock

questions by Juha Lindroos

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