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Cornelius Quartet: The Final Program, A Cure For Cancer, The English Assassin, The Condition Of Muzak [Paperback]

Michael Moorcock
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)

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Book Description

June 1 2001 Final Programme
Jerry Cornelius is an English assassin, physicist, rock star, and messiah to the Age of Science. Written between 1965 and 1967, this sequence of four novels relating Cornelius’s adventures has been credited with inspiring dozens of writers and artists to rethink the genre of science fiction. Acclaimed British author Michael Moorcock’s time-tripping antihero is one of the great achievements in modern fantastic literature. This is the first U.S. publication of one of the most influential sagas in postmodern sci-fi.

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IN CAMBODIA, A COUNTRY lying between Vietnam and Thailand on the map, between n and zero on the time chart, is the magic city of Angkor, where once the great Khmer race lived. Read the first page
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Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Here we go again March 11 2003
It's been argued that these books were an angry/funny response to the Vietnam War and certainly the second story A Cure For Cancer refers a lot to Vietnam. What is particularly interesting about it, however, is how it refers to the PRESENT
situation. The Administration's rationales for going into Vietnam and the military's rationales for staying there are here transported to Europe. And that's no doubt what makes the books so relevant to the immediate situation we have at the moment with Europe refusing America's rationales for going to war and the Administration reacting with an aggressive, bullying tone. The ways in which imperial adventuring are cloaked in the language of 'saving the natives' are clearly shown here. Moorcock takes the experience of British imperialism and equates it with American imperialism. He does it all, of course, with irony and black humor which gets more and more sophisticated as the series continue. The Final Program is the weakest of the books, though it parodies 60s slang rather than parroting it, and has subtleties rarely found in US fiction of the day. These books were of their time and half a century AHEAD of their time and the way in which Moorcock reveals the underbelly of his society as well as the
postures of his main character are brilliant. Unquestionably, some of the very best experimental and influential fiction of our time! Recommended at every level -- fun, funny, fantastic and literary. I would also recommend Moorcock's very latest Cornelius novella, Firing the Cathedral, with its introduction by Alan Moore.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Stunningly good June 23 2002
I found this one of the most amazing books I have ever read. After the first one, which is fairly straightforward though written with a sardonic humor, they get better and better, with more and more information adding to your first impression, rather like a good movie by Lynch, say. Don't expect anything like you've read before, even if you've read other Michael Moorcock titles. The first one deals with Jerry Cornelius's quest for revenge and the microfilm which contains the information to make the 'final program' of the title -- a computer program which will put the sum of human knowledge into a single, self-reproducing human being. The second one, A Cure for Cancer, changes pace and style and has direct reference to the Vietnam War, set in a London which has been taken over by American 'military advisors', who are occupying Europe. Here Jerry also visits America and meets Indians, black power activists and so on in his search for his sister and for the black box which enables people both to change identity and travel through the multiverse, through multiple versions of our own realities, all of which bear satirical or ironic reference to the world we know. By The English Assassin Jerry is in a coffin, living dead, being traded between his enemies and friends across a Europe embroiled in civil war which prefigures what has since happened in Yugoslavia, Russia and elsewhere. The style and the substance of the books matures and deepens as you go, but also the characters become more complex and interesting. We meet Bishop Beesley and his
daughter, Miss Brunner, the Thatcher-like character, Major Nye, the embodiment of idealistic imperialism and Colonel Pyat, whose story is continued in Moorcock holocaust series beginning with
Byzantium Endures.
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1.0 out of 5 stars I put it down April 24 2002
By A Customer
Lately, I've been reading lesser-known authors that helped define modern science fiction (Alfred Bester, Pat Franks, Walter Miller). The literary references to William Gibson and others on the back cover led me to buy this book. For only the second time in 37 years, I've put a book down unfinished and it pains me to do so.
This book failed to entice me. The language is very much mired in the mid-60's and doesn't translate well to 2000. I didn't find myself rooting for or caring for any of the characters. I don't mind amoral lead characters, so long as they are interesting. Jerry Cornelius isn't interesting. If there are parallels to the plot and events of our era, I didn't see them. The plot just kind of meanders around with little regard to time--we get minute details of going into a club and playing music, but a whole year is thrown away in two paragraphs (Jerry leaves the cave, goes to Stockholm, meets a girl, plays in a band, gets married, then Miss Brunner shows up again).
One thing I found humorous was that the cover says the music of the 80's band Human League was inspired by Jerry Cornelius. Now I know why I hated the Human League.
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5.0 out of 5 stars From brilliant promise to fulfilment of promise March 1 2002
The first book of this sequence, THE FINAL PROGRAM, is a young man finding his feet, his own voice, his own subject matter, and as far as structure goes it is pretty much all over the place.
The second book, A CURE FOR CANCER, is very much the sort of thing a crossword player or math-buff would love,because it turns narrative conventions upside down and sideways with quite extraordinary skill -- like a flyer showing off. But the third book, THE ENGLISH ASSASSIN, shows a quantum jump, both in skill, ambition and language. Moorcock is not showing off here -- he is tackling the Matter of Britain -- modern Britain, if you like, but with reference to Arthur (it opens in Tintagel) -- and Jerry Cornelius is in a state of suspended animation throughout the book. It is the fourth book, THE CONDITION OF MUZAK,which combines the virtues of the three previous books and compounds them, offering a brilliant construct, a discoverable linear narrative linking all four books and a wonderful symphony of intellectual, emotional and visionary literature. Is there a modern composer who could do it justice ? The subject matter, the commentaries, are as relevant as they always were. This is a very uncomfortable sequence, but it does not leave you with any sense of pessimism. It rises to a humane and heartening resolution, offering a sudden change of perspective which is heart-breakingl. This is the closest experience to reading a combination of Charles Dickens and James Joyce and it gets better and better the older you get. I read the old Avon edition until it fell to bits. I'm grateful for this new, much more durable book.
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Most recent customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Moorcock's fabulous sf
This is Moorcock's most ambitious work. Certainly his most honest. There are a million and one experiments in literature here, not all of which come off. Read more
Published on May 31 2003 by "yogsothoth666"
3.0 out of 5 stars Hours of boredom---Minutes of brilliance
I bought this book due to the rave reviews I had seen. I was largely disappointed. At times the writing is brilliant, but most of the time Moorcock is just coasting. Read more
Published on Feb. 23 2002 by sbissell3
5.0 out of 5 stars Racy tales of an immoral adventurer
The Cornelius Quartet provides under one cover the uncensored saga of Jerry Cornelius, a time traveling hero figure whose antics have earned him the title of the first 'cyberpunk... Read more
Published on Feb. 6 2002 by Midwest Book Review
5.0 out of 5 stars The Big Well
It's amazing how many people have drunk from Moorcock's well. Cornelius created a revolution both in literary fiction and graphic novels. Read more
Published on Jan. 22 2002
5.0 out of 5 stars Chilling, timely
Ballard and Moorcock between them seem to have an uncanny sense of the psychic future and the Cornelius Quartet, in the context of recent terrible events in New York and... Read more
Published on Sept. 15 2001 by Leonard Steel
5.0 out of 5 stars In my own top ten
Funny, relentless, a real understanding of the international corporate world long before other people started talking about
it. Read more
Published on Sept. 7 2001
5.0 out of 5 stars The Gravity's Rainbow of British New Wave Sci-Fi
The adventures of Jerry Cornelius! To paraphrase the back of the 1977 Avon edition, copulating, hallucinating, devastating, and coming back from the dead. Frequently. Read more
Published on Aug. 10 2001
5.0 out of 5 stars Weird but wonderful
This is the coolest book I ever read. I can't believe it was censored in America but I can see why!! Jerry Cornelius is my hero!
Published on July 5 2001
5.0 out of 5 stars Read the books, watch the movie
There is a new print of The Final Program movie now out from Anchor Bay on DVD and VHS. The movie is a weird version of the book, but has a lot of its flavor and is worth... Read more
Published on July 2 2001 by "academon"
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