cover image THE LIFE AND TIMES OF JERRY CORNELIUS: Stories of the Comic Apocalypse

THE LIFE AND TIMES OF JERRY CORNELIUS: Stories of the Comic Apocalypse

Michael Moorcock, . . Four Walls Eight Windows, $15 (352pp) ISBN 978-1-56858-273-3

Jerry Cornelius, Moorcock's notorious antihero, navigates the time streams with sometimes cheerless abandon in 11 stories that range from '60s Britain to the post-9/11 world. Whether channeling the politics and entropy of the Vietnam era or reflecting on the environmental hazards of taking a shower in a far future Austin, Tex., Moorcock (The Skrayling Tree) manages to insert a dizzy abundance of bleak imagery and quotes that may disconcert newcomers to his fiction. He's at his best in the more recent, less depressing stories that lack the many Beatles references of earlier tales. In "Firing the Cathedral," Cornelius expresses the medium in Moorcock's message: "Anarchism in action. Green solutions... Call me a radical. Call me a visionary. But the way I see it, if you get a grip on the future, you might as well bring it along as quickly as possible." Also impressive is "The Spencer Inheritance," which includes a satirical take on what might happen to Lady Diana's bones. The nastiness of such early pieces as "The Delhi Division," in which Cornelius discovers the "exact difference between synthesis and sensationalism" and goes on killing anyway, might be a poor introduction to the former rock star/assassin and psychedelic guru. Moorcock rejects formulaic constructions and demands that his readers read between the lines. Some may not want to, especially SF fans who prefer traditional structure. (Oct. 24)

FYI: Moorcock was the editor of the influential New Worlds magazine.