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Cornelius

 
  

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Mercuryzap
19:23 / 24.12.01
Did anyone else investigate Moorcock's Jerry Cornelius novels as a result of reading the Invisibles?
 
 
Ellis says:
21:32 / 24.12.01
Yes.
 
 
Mercuryzap
22:26 / 24.12.01
How did you find it? I had been intrigued by the idea of the stories since seeing the film version of the Final Programme at an early age. The invisibles connection made me search out the novels and I loved them. They inspired me to delve further into Moorcock's work and track down an issue of Near Myths featuring Morrison's Gideon Stargrave. Living in London must have added an extra dimension to your reading experience Ellis2nd.
 
 
rizla mission
00:12 / 27.12.01
Yes, I too read them on the tip-off from the Invisibles.

I would wax lyrical about their meaning, but I'm having a fundamental disagreement with myself over the correct definition of 'entropy' at the moment, so:

plan B: they mean absolutely nothing, and exist solely for the purposes of aesthetic coolness.
 
 
Mercuryzap
15:14 / 27.12.01
The books do have a very elusive quality about them. Not surprising considering the fractured narratives. Someone once said that Cornelius was more of a literary technique than a character.

Did Grant and Moorcock ever settle the trouble over Gideon Stargrave?
 
 
The resistable rise of Reidcourchie
16:50 / 27.12.01
Originally posted by Mercuryzap

"I had been intrigued by the idea of the stories since seeing the film version of the Final Programme at an early age."

Wow, you've seen the film! Any memories of what it was like?

I got into the novels not from the Invisibles but from a bad cyberpunk novel, I think it was called Bad Voltage, Cornelius turns up in it as an arms dealer. At the point I go into them they were all out of print and it was a real headache tracking them down.

I enjoyed the Final Programme and the Condition of Muzak, though I couldn't make head nor tale of them (I'm a bit like that with Burroughs as well). The middle two are a bit of a blur. I've also got the collected short stories by other authors.

As Cornelius was designed to be used by a number of different authors, wasn't the disagreement with Moorcock due to courtesy rather than money?
 
 
Mercuryzap
17:57 / 27.12.01
The Final Programme was released on vhs and dvd earlier this year by Anchor Bay.
Moorcock hates the film but I have to say I have a real soft spot for it.
There was a comic strip as well.
It was orginally published in International Times and then reprinted in an edition of The Nature of The Catastrophe.
 
 
NotBlue
19:36 / 27.12.01
Yes, halfway though the third book in the four volume collection, losrt for a few months because of real lofe concerns, but the threads from earlier books seem to be amounting to something, looking forward to finishing it very much.
 
 
Mystery Gypt
21:24 / 27.12.01
i recently bought the collection of all the books printed by 4-walls 8-windows, but i have to say, i thought it was total crap. i mean, i couldnt even get all the way through final programme without feeling like it was rotting my brain; it just seemed like some poorly written "boy action novel" and i couldnt figure where all the "cool" was supposed to be... and then someone reminded me that grant read it when he was like 15 years old, so there you go.
 
 
Our Lady of The Two Towers
11:24 / 28.12.01
I'm slowly working my way through the Eternal Champion cycle and have book three in front of me, which I will read when I've got nothing better to do. Thus far I've found Moorcock no better than competent, though maybe I've got to reach the stories with that fuggin' elf which everyone seems to like...
 
 
STOATIE LIEKS CHOCOLATE MILK
12:40 / 29.12.01
I quite liked the film (though it was on telly many years back and was probably poo but I didn't know any better)... I think I indirectly got into the Invisibles through Moorcock rather than the other way around... (this is like that 6 degrees of Kevin Bacon game, isn't it?)... if I hadn't read Moorcock, I'd never have got into RAW, and if I hadn't got into RAW, then... y'see? Going back and rereading them, Moorcock wasn't at his best literarily (if such a word there be) but FUCK! Cornelius is DA MAN!!! Of all the manifestations of the Eternal Champion, Cornelius is the one I'd most want to drop a trip and watch sitcoms with. And maybe shoot some people and save the world.
 
 
rizla mission
13:12 / 29.12.01
quote:Originally posted by Lozt Cause:
I'm slowly working my way through the Eternal Champion cycle and have book three in front of me, which I will read when I've got nothing better to do. Thus far I've found Moorcock no better than competent, though maybe I've got to reach the stories with that fuggin' elf which everyone seems to like...


oh boy .. those Moorcock fantasy books do my head in .. they put me off reading the Cornelius ones for ages.

I'll assume, whether it's true or not, that he wrote all that Elric stuff on speed in order to make a few quid and concentrated his literary ability more on his 'proper' books.

I'd take issue with the claim that Moorcock's a bad writer - obviously, a lot of his stuff's a bit weak, but then James Joyce would have been too if he'd written a hack fantasy novel every week..

A lot of the Cornelius stories (particularly the short stories) are quite brilliantly written.
 
 
Mystery Gypt
20:54 / 29.12.01
just to clarify i litte, i thought Behold The Man by Moorcock was one of the best books ever, when i read it in highschool; and i totally loved the elric stuff when i was a little kid; there's not denying that as a body of work his stuff is impressive and he sure as hell is prolific... but going and reading the cornelius stuff now, i dunno, i just couldnt do it. and i'd still be curious to hear if they get better or transcend themselves beyond, "it's cool."
 
 
Mercuryzap
14:24 / 30.12.01
Mystery,
The books become more ambitious and experimental as they go on.

After avoiding it like the plague, I recently read the Elric series and really enjoyed it as escapist entertainment.

I guess Moorcock has got under my skin.
 
 
gentleman loser
21:55 / 30.12.01
Yeah, I've read The Cornelius Chronicles.

There's a couple of days of my life that I can't get back. Put simply, it's gawdawful, poorly written crap. It's a classic example of a book collection that people slobber all over for reasons that baffle me.

It was almost as if somebody said "Hey, how can I cash in on the whole tired British mod/psychedelic scene in a terribly boring SF series?".

Just my opinion, I could be wrong! It might be the most brilliant piece of prose ever written, but I suspect that this is no more true than those who claim the bible is the direct word of god.

If anyone wants to trade something interesting for my copy, I'm willing to listen.

[ 30-12-2001: Message edited by: gentleman loser ]
 
 
STOATIE LIEKS CHOCOLATE MILK
23:09 / 30.12.01
Mystery Gypt, "Behold The Man" is still fucking brilliant, though I don't really read his stuff any more- but apparently the Byzantium Endures... whatever they're called series are fucking brilliant as "serious" novels, though I haven't read them yet. Also "The Black Corridor" I reread recently, purely due to stumbling upon it in a second-hand bookshop while drunk and going "whoah! that totally did my head in when I was a kid" and- fucking hell- it still does.
I think being selective is the key. But I still got a MAJOR soft spot for Cornelius.
 
 
Good Antlerhead
10:48 / 02.01.02
I've always thought Moorcock is questionable, one of those writers who's either brilliant for having thought of it first or just plain stupid; either way he doesn't hold up over time. Kind of enjoyed The Final Programme and some of his Cornelius short stories. Hated Elric. Hated some of his serious stuff I sampled, although "Mother London" started interestingly, all about a support group for telepaths or something. I did think "Behold the Man" was simply great, though, and was overjoyed when I actually found it a few years back in Powell's books in Portland ORĖit's been out of print for years in America thanks to the religious fundies. The one book by him that I can unwaveringly say that I liked.
 
 
gridley
22:21 / 28.01.02
I could never love anyone who didn't love "The Final Progamme." Pure perfection. The rest of Jerry's adventure leave me a little annoyed though.

As for the movie, well... I can't say it was great, but it did seem like Dr. Who done right (done righter?).
 
 
Crenshaw
07:03 / 02.02.02
I've got nineteen Eternal Champion books on my shelf, none of which feature Cornelius.
Elric remains a guily pleasure; I believe that Moorcock was the first author to write a fantasy novel not from the perspective of a hero, but through the eyes of a thug. A chaotic evil, hundredth-level fighter/thief/wizard/cleric thug suffering from Bruce Wayne angst.

I have difficulty imagining Moorcock writing a serious novel, so I've avoided Cornelius.
 
 
Withiel: DALI'S ROTTWEILER
16:58 / 27.03.05
I've only really read the "Lives and Times Of Jerry Cornelius" collection (or at least I think that's what it's called: it's got the Tank Trapeze in, that's all I remember), and was absolutely stunned; the sort of aggressive greyness and obscurity of many of the stories, exacerbated by the extensive use of "real" quotations and snippets of information, was overwhelming. The general sense of the characters' amorphousness, combined with a wholly unexpected sense of humour from the seemingly-dour Moorcock (I read the Elric novels first) was a bit of a treat, really. There's also something very British about the stories, in that although they're utterly surreal, they're also somehow rooted in what I imagine to be the atmosphere of the time: there's a lot of the Cold War in the background. As a qualifier, though, I'll have to add that I was 17 when I first read them, and as such was probably both of a disposition more suited to the subject matter (Pan-Dimensional! War! Between! Law! And! Chaos!! International! Libertine! Assassin!!) and also a lot less experienced in more outrť literary techniques. I think I'd have to go back to the stories now, having tackled some Joyce and read Tristram Shandy (which is a thread in itself, if I'm any judge), to get a more objective perspective.
 
 
Alex's Grandma
21:02 / 27.03.05
I have difficulty imagining Moorcock writing a serious novel

I don't know if he's pulled it off more than once, but Mother London definitely qualifies. The mind kind of boggles at what he might have achieved artistically if he hadn't been side-tracked by late Sixties pop cult fame, and the kudos involved - I dare say Moorcock's sitting about somewhere hot and sunny with a lot of cash at the moment, at least I hope he is, but while it's not quite as bad as say, James Joyce having decided to write episodes of Star Trek for his whole adult life, Moorcock's decision to effectively be a co-conspirator in the invention of Dungeons and Dragons isn't really that far off.

I'm not saying I wouldn't have done the same in the guy's position, obviously, but still...
 
 
Bed Head
23:52 / 27.03.05
The mind kind of boggles at what he might have achieved artistically if he hadn't been side-tracked by late Sixties pop cult fame, and the kudos involved - I dare say Moorcock's sitting about somewhere hot and sunny with a lot of cash at the moment,

But, surely Moorcockís in love with pulp and adventure stories, with the whole vibe of it, with the cultural position it occupies. This *is* the stuff of his art. You think heís chasing kudos instead of knuckling down for some proper work? Dude, I donít think mass appeal is his thing at all - itís the subculture, the whole idea of subculture and finding beauty and art in lowly pulps and scuzzy rock and stuff. Yíknow, he hung out with Hawkwind, not the Beatles, and I believe heís been critical of those science fiction writers who *did* take the Star Trek shilling, and of the capitalist-imperialist politics of Star Trek and LOTR and the rest. Heís not a groovy scenester in his head, heís a scribbler-agitator. You gonna tell me thereís a better thing to want to be?

And Jerry Cornelius is still open source, as far as I know. You just gotta ask. The open source-ness is a part of the character's story, and Moorcock has then happily gone on to re-use characters that other writers have invented and brought into it, like Shaky Mo. Itíll never win any Booker prizes, but Iíd so call his Cornelius stuff an artistic achievement. Itís not just about cash and itís not just about kudos. There's something else there.

Never read any Elric, so Iíve no idea what youíre all talking about with that.
 
 
Withiel: DALI'S ROTTWEILER
13:53 / 28.03.05
I have difficulty imagining Moorcock writing a serious novel.
I've not read Mother London, so can't possibly comment, but I can almost agree with this statement: there's an overwhelming feeling of playfulness that permeates Moorcock's work - this feeling that he's got the whole Multiverse to play with and is going to really ave some fun this time... Especially in King of the City (which is ace, btw), where he has the Deep Fix becoming the Most Popular Band In The World, with Tony Blair asking if he can play along for a session, etc... Actually, thinking about it, and having read Gloriana just last night, Moorcock often reminds me of Peake (a debt which he admits in the dedication of that novel), but without the shadows of Belsen or mental illness that made his writing more urgent. Not that Peake isn't playful as well at times, it's just that Moorcock is far more of an iconoclast, willing to mock even his own most serious characters in canonical stories (Elric at the End Of Time). Having said that, his self-parody "The Stone Thing" made me giggle foolishly, and is well worth tracking down for anyone who thinks MM takes himself too seriously.
The Jerry Cornelius stories, I think, are "serious" in that they're intended to be works of literature, or art, as Bed Head said above - and I believe that they "work" on a functional as well as intentional level - but in their joyous manipulation of genre, universe and location, they're entirely unserious, and all the better for it.
(Has anyone else read the essay (also in the Elric at the End of Time collection) in which Moorcock explains how to "unpack" some of the references in the Cornelius stories?)

It'll never win any Booker Prizes

Actually, there's quite a good Warren Ellis article* about writers like Moorcock and their relationship to things like the Booker Prize, the gist of which was, I seem to remember, that because of the decision by the mannered upper middle classes that novels of the mannered upper middle classes were the pinnacle of literary virtue, writers like Moorcock and Peake, whose subject matter is rather removed from this oeuvre, are completely and unfairly ignored. At least, I think it was Ellis.
My point being that I feel that Moorcock is somehow an intensely working class author in his approach: this is borne up by the Steerpike-figure-as-king motif that appears at the end of Gloriana, and his class-oriented critique comparing the Lord of the Rings to Winnie the Pooh.


*They do exist. Honest.
 
 
STOATIE LIEKS CHOCOLATE MILK
11:03 / 29.03.05
Incidentally, has anyone read a book called "Time Of The Hawklords", allegedly by Michael Moorcock and Michael Butterworth? Not sure if it's the best, or worst, book I've ever read, and I've read it several times. Basically, Hawkwind turn out to be ancient superhero gods, who have to save the world from an evil fascistic government through the power of space rock (they have guns that play Silver Machine). And it's PROPER Hawkwind, with Lemmy and everything. Moorcock himself appears as a character, too.
It was supposed to be the first part of a trilogy... afaik, there was a limited run of the second, and the third never appeared.
 
 
matsya
00:58 / 30.03.05
good god that sounds tragically fabulous. I had an idea for a pacifying gun that shot the opening bars of the Beach Boys' "God Only Knows" into the victim's brain, that I decided not to use in the end.

Has anyone read the Gold-diggers of 77? The book that Moorcock was supposed to have written for Malcolm McClaren? z

I've read the quartet, and the above (Sid posthumously chatting in heaven with other luminaries while Shaky Mo and Bishop Beesly (IIRC) try to take advantage of the post-pistols landscape), and a bunch of shorts too, and the Catherine Cornelius and Una Persson book, and it all muddles in my head as the same thing. The only character that really stands out for me is Jerry's mum. I know I enjoyed them while I read them (positively swam in them), but I don't come out with much after I've closed the book.

This thread's got me pulling them down from the bookshelf again for another look.

m.
 
 
STOATIE LIEKS CHOCOLATE MILK
13:43 / 30.03.05
I've found the Hawklords blurb online (I have a copy somewhere which I really should read yet again)-

Deep at the Earth's Centre lay the Death Generator. Buried there from time immemorial by a long-dead race of aliens, it had at last been triggered into action....For among the ruins of London, surrounded by the survivors of the recent holocaust, Hawkwind rock, their music catalysing the attacking Death Ray - a lethal concoction of high energy that insinuates it's way into the mind, tormenting every sense with demonic psychic visions. With the breakdown of the barriers between nightmare and reality, Hawkwind find themselves re-enacting the stages of a war that took place thousands of years before, in which they take the role of the Hawklords - the only potential saviours of the human race otherwise doomed to extermination in an apocalyptic battle between the forces of good and evil....

From a quick search, it looks like Moorcock came up with the idea and Butterworth (who wrote the Trigan Empire comic strip) wrote the book(s).
 
 
Alex's Grandma
22:44 / 30.03.05
It's not just about cash and it's not just about kudos. There's something else there as well

Oh definitely yeah, and I'll admit to being somewhat absurdly judgemental when it comes to sci-fi/fantasy in general ( as well as a bit over-refreshed while writing the above post, hence it's rather, er, didactic tone, ) but, while I'm no position to comment on how anyone should or shouldn't be conducting their literary career ( and really wouldn't want to be either, in my defence, ) I still can't help wishing Moorcock had spent less of his time on the pulp side of his work, and more, for want of a better word, on the 'serious' end of things. Famously, a lot of the novels in the Eternal Champion cycle took a couple of weeks to write, and while there's nothing wrong with that ( I wish I could do it myself, ) he does seem to be a bit better, IMVHO, when he sits down and concentrates. Mother London ( and I'm sorry to go on about this, ) while it seems on the one hand to have been a deliberate attempt to prove to the Booker Prize crowd that he could 'do' mainstream literature if he so chose, actually almost succeeds too well for it's own good, insofar as it did win a prize ( The Whitbread I think, ) and was easily the equal of anything Amis, Rushdie etc was doing that year. So while who got what on the Eng lit piss-up circuit back then doesn't particularly matter in the broader scheme of things, you're kind of left wondering why he hasn't attempted this kind of thing more often. JG Ballard, who started out from much the same position as Moorcock, and at roughly the same time, has arguably anyway had a major impact on not just sci-fi or mainstream novels, but UK culture in general, whereas Moorcock seems like someone who's likely to be remembered, if at all, as a novelist whose characters people like to dress up as at fantasy conventions.

And while I completely agree with the above as regards his sub-cult agenda, it still seems to come across better in Mother London, and to lesser extent King Of The City, than in the aspects of his work where the characters are fighting order gods with magic swords, or ( *shudder,* though I've not read it, and I dare say it's probably a laff, and either way no offence intended, ) being in Hawkwind.

I just feel Moorcock's aggressive, class-based, and totally understandable, retreat from Booker prize UK lit was a bit too extreme in the end, or that he read the odds wrong about the way things were likely to develop or some such ( and he can be a bit bullish about his reputation/standing etc - I read an article not so long ago where he tore into Ballard and others as inferior writers to his good self, which is fine in an interview, but possibly less so when you're meant to be reviewing an anthology with your own stuff in it, ) and also, I suppose, that the Cornelius novels are a bit patchy after the first one. Basically, that he's good, but that he could have been great, if he hadn't got so preoccupied with pulp and pastiche.
 
 
Mark Parsons
09:01 / 24.04.05
" I suppose, that the Cornelius novels are a bit patchy after the first one. Basically, that he's good, but that he could have been great, if he hadn't got so preoccupied with pulp and pastiche."

Actually, I though MUZAK was the best, richest & most emotionally satifying by far. Haven't read my copy of FIRING THE CATHEDRAL yet, but the intro by Alan Moore is fantastic...
 
 
This Sunday
21:09 / 24.04.05
Kinda funny, but I thought the 'Lives and Times of...' was the best JC novel. It's just a bunch of Jerry shorts run together with some narrative connections, highly fragmented, but the fragmentation, the long years between story A and story M or X, basically, make the distinctive flavor of a Jerry Cornelius Story so much more prominent than 'Condition of Muzak' or 'Cure for Cancer'.
Anyone add to the JC wiki, yet? I'm nervous and procrastinate, and don't want to push any info until I get a feel for the direction things are being covered. Which is a shitty state to cop to, but so it is.
 
 
adamswish
01:12 / 26.04.05
Not only have I the collected version of The Cornellius Quartet but also managed to track down the four original novels too (god bless second hand bookstores).

Also got "New Nature of the Catastrophe" as well as the recent collection of "Life and times...". There's a bit of over-lap between the short stories in each but "life and Times has the most recent stuff Moorcock has done with Jerry (which reminds me, in "Firing the Cathedrals" look out for the nod [in my opinion anyway] back to the Invisibles).

If anyone's looking for advice I'd recommend "New Nature of the Catastrophe" as it not only has the Moorcock short stories but other authors versions of JC.
 
 
This Sunday
02:11 / 26.04.05
Can't help but read a bit of a King Mob vibe off the 'Jerry feels a bit like a concentration camp victim' shaven head bit.
Moorcock reclaiming whatever it is he felt/thought Morrison had stolen off him?
I like Jerry alright, but really, you can't spoof him, y'know? He is the parody, practically, as condensed as he is.
I don't really see the 'lifted wholesale' lines that Moorcock claims. He'd know better than me, surely, but I mean, where are they? And quoting songs doesn't count, 'cause I mean, that just demonstrates a line of dialogue had been stolen from something before Morrison even got involved.
It's like that Byrne strip with Superbman and the Fantastical Four, where he takes time out from the story to explain that you can't parody The Thing's dialogue, because the parody is the dialogue.
Ack! I'm talking up Byrne and criticizing/questioning Moorcock!
Thematic, stylistic, similarities, sure, and the kit's straight off and stolen, but, wholesale theft? For five pages out of how many? Nope, I just can't buy it.
Not that 'The Invisibles' is the greatest thing ever or Morrison's above suspicion, but still... open source character plus first published work plus personal project that's part autobio plus wearing your influences out in the open to try and push people towards those things that've done so much for you... how could he not do those Gideon Stargrave fits?
 
 
GogMickGog
15:26 / 04.05.05
I've only read the "new nature" collection, none of the novels. Do the narratives hold together better in these, as I felt that the Burroughs-esque cut-up imagery (basically, 60s mod culture ref. plus absurd sexual bumpery, plus weired alterna-London description, etc) concealed a very shallow core.

Gideon Stargrove was a spot on homage as the short duration of each image doesnot require the odd imagery to continue further..capiche?

Luther Arkwright, I thought, was how Cornelius should be done...
 
 
This Sunday
18:24 / 04.05.05
Well, Luther Arkwright was sort of Jerry, innit? In the same way 'Purple Rain' was a Jerry Cornelius story, or, my StarWars theory which is somewhere on Barbelith. Moorcock himself will stretch it a bit further, as he lists 'The Crow' as a Jerry story, as well as John Constantine and Adrien uber-boy from 'Watchmen' was Jerry ringers. And Elric, sometimes, 'cause they're both kinda vacant, whiny, and float from event to event with their memory seeming to snap forward every time it starts to stretch too far from past to present. Paramnesia.
 
 
matsya
02:45 / 05.05.05
Where does Moorcock make such claims? I'd like to read that. I love the idea of The Kid (ie, Prince) as a Jerry avatar. It fits really well.

Who else do people think is an unconscious Jerry C avatar?

m.
 
 
This Sunday
05:01 / 05.05.05
There's a website which is sort of unofficial but with continuous updates by Mike Moorcock (ostensibly, anyway, and I have no reason to doubt), where he's answered questions and posted news and such... has a few bits where he just lists off characters and plots he feels are directly attributable to his Jerry C stuff. The blurbs on some of the Jerry books themselves, may be bleeding into my recollection of this. I know the 'Lives and Times...' namechecks 'The Crow' and some others on the back cover. Alan Moore's connections with Moorcock might solidify the 'Watchmen' and J. Constantine links. I really don't get the level of his upset over Morrison (calls him a thief in a few interviews, saying he visualizes him dressed in those stripey clothes with a domino mask, et cetera), I mean, if John Constantine is a Jerry Cornelius clone for just having the same initials and coming out of England...
Always liked Cathy and Una better than Jer, anyhow. And nobody seems to want to steal Una's traits for a character, unfortunately.
 
  

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