Tuesday, 20 March 2001

Michael Moorcock: The Adventures of Una Persson and Catherine Cornelius in the Twentieth Century (1976)

Edition: Granada, 1980
Review number: 787

This novel takes two of the characters from the Jerry Cornelius quartet, the mysterious Una Persson and Jerry's sister Catherine, and tries to find more to say about them. It has an interesting structure, with each chapter set in a different alternate version of the twentieth century, but it is not as successful as the later novels of the quartet (The English Assassin, say) which use a similar technique.

There are several reasons why this novel doesn't work. Moorcock may be expert at describing background, but he has used the alternate reality device several times and has difficulty coming up with new and interesting versions of twentieth century history. He also leaves himself little space to describe them. Since some are easier to set up than others, this makes the novel rather bitty, and its central characters are ot sufficiently strong to overcome this. The writing is also rather trendily mid-seventies, containing a lot of not very interesting sex. Read the Cornelius quartet instead.

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