|Mayflower/Granada 1981, Art: Melvyn Grant|
Speculation 23, Art: Pamela Yates (Online Archive) |
In any case, the "plot" mainly consists of Jerry pontificating on modern culture whilst causing havoc in whatever neighborhood he finds himself in. In Speculation #23, David Pringle ("shortly to begin a University English course") writes an apt introduction which is also well worth looking at. This story also later appeared as either "The Dodgem Division" or "The Dodgem Decision" (note that "dodgems" are apparently the same as "bumper cars").
To be fair, I do also think of Jerry as a personality. He’s perhaps not wholly reliable or consistent and maybe not entirely politically correct. For me, he’s a character combining the endearing and enduring traits of a number of my contemporaries as well as being a latter day Pierrot, Colombine, and Harlequin, responding to the world around him with, if not always appropriate sentimentality, at least an admirable resourcefulness and malleability, and almost limitless good humor. Jerry’s a pretty light-hearted existentialist. He once claimed to be too shallow to hold on to his miseries for very long. I think he also said somewhere (or I might have said it for him) that it isn’t especially important if all we’re doing is dancing forever on the edge of the abyss. It’s scarcely worth worrying about. The really important thing, of course, is the dance itself and how we dance it.MM - 2003, The Lives and Times of Jerry Cornelius ("Introduction")
|Art: Eddie Jones|
|Michael Joseph 1974, Art: John Riley|
|Art: James Cawthorn (as "J. Allen Frazenkel")|
Additionally, Moorcock approaches his theme - a third global war - in an unexpected way,
or at least one which a reader might not expect when imagining WW III. In popular media, WW III is usually depicted as an apocalyptic "flash-point" conflict essentially
lasting a matter of hours and visually portrayed as swarms of atomic mushroom
clouds blossoming all over the globe (immediately followed by a "nuclear winter").
However, Moorcock's modern version of a "future war" story depicts the next global
conflict as a series of slow, inefficient tactical moves (both hidden and
overt) taken by regime-change agents who are seemingly more concerned with
their "wild-at-heart" mistresses than some kind of dogmatic
national/religious agenda. However, it's worth noting that these stories are also the products of an "unreliable narrator", so part of the charm here is
in parsing through Volker's subjective self-awareness of reality. The narrator "is revealed not so much by what he says as by what he selects to say to the reader."
Postscript 1: Some of the stories described here first appeared in book form in the
Moorcock anthologies Moorcock's Book of Martyrs (1976) and
Dying For Tomorrow (1978).
- "A Dead Singer"
- "The Greater Conqueror"
- "Behold the Man" (novella version)
- "Good-bye Miranda"
- "Last Vigil" ("Waiting for the End of Time")