Thursday, 10 January 2002

Michael Moorcock & Jim Cawthorn: The Distant Suns (1969/1975)

Edition: Orion, 1996
Review number: 1033

The Distant Suns is a strong contender for the title of Moorcock's worst novel. Almost totally different in style from his other writing, it is an unimaginative story about a space mission to Alpha Centauri, outdated in style and bearing a marked resemblance to American pulp fiction of twenty or more years earlier. It is so different that it is impossible to read it without wondering just how much input Moorcock had to the collaboration, even though it appears now in an omnibus of his novels and is copyrighted to him exclusively.

The only connection between The Distant Suns and the rest of Moorcock's output are the names of the main characters. The crew of the spaceship The Last Hope are Jerry Cornelius, his wife Cathy and scientist Frank Marek; even so, they are no more than washed out two dimensional versions of their usual selves. (This is not just the fault of the writing; major sources of tension are removed when the three of them are not siblings.) Jerry is the protagonist, but is just a Flash Gordon style action hero. While Moorcock allowed others to write Jerry Cornelius adventures, most of the writers who did so stuck to the style and stylishness which were such important parts of the original stories.

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