Friday, 8 October 1999

Michael Moorcock: A Cure for Cancer (1971)

Edition: Fontana, 1988
Review number: 354

In Moorcock's second Jerry Cornelius book, lots of things have changed. Cornelius himself, for one thing; now virtually a mirror image of his former self in personality and appearance (unusually dark with white hair instead of unusually pale with black hair, far more passive, with opposite tastes - he now only drinks Pernod instead of being allergic to it, for example). The passivity is the only change which makes much difference to the feeling of the book, and it is not a huge change: Jerry was always ready to let things happen to him rather than trying to influence what was going on.

It is the background which has changed most, as though we have moved into a parallel universe to that of The Final Programme. This unsettling change to a more decrepit version of the world, Europe in almost total anarchy occupied by American troops led by officers straight out of Dr Strangelove, is the precursor of the further changes to come. The introduction of the Derry and Toms roof garden also introduces an important location.

Perhaps the least accomplished of the four novel sequence, A Cure for Cancer is principally an indication that not everything in The Final Programme is what it seems.

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