Re: The Finale Programme, by Michael Moorcock

Starting in February, Titan Books is reissuing the Cornelius Quartet, as part of their ongoing and much appreciated reprint series of Michael Moorcock’s oeuvre. I got ahold of an ARC for the first book in the series, The Final Programme.

My wife had never seen Casablanca. This struck me as an injustice and so I dutifully sat her down, put int he dvd and teared up when they sang Le Marseilles to drown out the Nazis singing German drinking songs. before we even got to that iconic scene however, my wife in near exasperation exclaimed that she flt like she had seen this movie before, because so much of the dialogue, staging and characters had been referenced, quoted, and parodied in so many other movies and TV shows since 1941.

Reading The Final Programme should have been like that. And judging by the reviews on Goodreads and Amazon, for some people it is.

But it’s a testament to Michael Moorcock’s skill as a writer that this book, written in 1965, first published in 1968 doesn’t feel dated. It has all the hallmarks of the early counterculture that it was a harbinger to, the blithe attitude towards sex and drug use, open homosexuality and bisexuality, the fierce social commentary and  everything else that should, by all rights, make this a screaming artifact of a bygone era. Instead, it’s a rich, fun wild ride, full of brain melting ideas, speeches about eternal recurrence and identity, tossed off like casual banter about the weather, and a sly nod and wink to the reader that yeah, this is all a lark, but a serious lark.

(It’s also possible that I have a soft spot for weirdo counterculture fiction form the 60s, as I’m also a big fan of Illuminatus! and Mumbo Jumbo).

What struck as someone who hasn’t read the Cornelius Quartet before (and not much Moorcock at all), is how influential this series really is. Jerry Cornelius is a direct forefather to Casanova Quinn, bent gender and all. I’m honestly surprised his initials aren’t JC, frankly.

I’m not going to talk about the plot, because it’s fabulous pop art kitsch of the highest order. I want there to be a long lost movie made of it, starring John Philip Law, in full on Danger: Diabolik mode. And telling it in spare synopsis form would make it sound even more ridiculous than summaries usually do.

There’s plenty to be had in the Final Programme, for Moorcock enthusiasts, the references to other works about the Eternal Champion’s exploits. But even if you don’t know about the cosmic battle that [lays out, a hundred time sin different guises and permutations over the course of dozens of the author’s novels, there is still a lot of fun to be had. And really, that’s the adjective that best sums up this book: Michael Moorcock clearly had a blast writing it and now, it’s back for you and I to have fun reading it again, for the first time.

Kudos to Titan Books for bringing out these new editions of fantasy and sci-fi classics by a genuine master of the craft. ( I hope they do The Dancer at the End of Time series next, as that one is a personal favorite).

Special thanks to Chris Young.

I’ve Clearly Been Watching Too much TV Before Bed

I had a dream that they found forgotten in some vault on the Paramount lot an entire 4th season of Star Trek (TOS) that never aired. Episodes included a 2 parter where Khan and 2 of his rivals escaped from their banishment on Ceti Alpha VI and each took over a planet’s civilization, waging a massive interstellar war with Kirk and the crew of the Enterprise caught between them. There was also a 3 part story arc that was basically a retelling of Macbeth with Klingons (only they were the wrinkly forehead Klingons from the movies and TNG era, not the guys in bronzer from TOS era). There was also an episode where they found floating in space a disembodied head that came to life when they beamed it aboard. The head had Q-like powers and made the crew’s life hell until Kirk agreed to help it find all it’s missing body parts and reassemble it.

NaNoWriMo 2012

It’s that time of year again, when all us mad folk try to write a 50,000 word novel in 30 days. Yes, NaNoWriMo is upon us!

Unfortunately, I don’t have time to participate officially this year, as I’m neck-deep in my current project. However! By next week, I’ll be +or- 50K words away from completion of the novel-in-progress, and so will be using the NaNoWriMo format to make the final push through to the end.

Here’s my starting word count:


108856 / 162000
(67.2%)

I’ll post regular updates once NaNoWriMo starts (along with some excerpts, maybe?) and natter on about my writing habits and process. You know, fun stuff!

You can follow along here, or on twitter: #nanowrimo

Space Suit

At Wired, they have a great little slide show covering the history of the space suit. I especially like the anecdote form Yuri Gagarin:

After reentry, Gagarin had to eject from his spacecraft and parachute down to the ground. He landed in a field, where a farmer and her daughter spotted the strange sight of a man clad in a bright orange suit with a large white helmet. Gagarin later recalled, “When they saw me in my space suit and the parachute dragging alongside as I walked, they started to back away in fear. I told them, don’t be afraid, I am a Soviet like you, who has descended from space and I must find a telephone to call Moscow!”

You better believe that’s going in the book.

RIP, Steve

Steve Jobs has died.

I’m writing these words of a Mac. But whatever platform you use, you owe the ability to do so to this man. His innovative thinking reached far and wide, from Pixar to John Hopkins medical research to a thousand tiny aspects of our modern world that we take for granted.

He changed the world and gave others the tools to change it for the better as well.