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.