Off the Shelf - "The Cornelius Quartet"

By Marcus Pan

Chain Border

The Cornelius QuartetThis monster of a collection, four stories and all novel length from Michael Moorcock, was loaned to me by my friend Z. I did like it somewhat, but the overall effect of the novel is confusing - yet is sure to be something you continue to give thought to long after you finish it.

For those uninitiated, The Cornelius Quartet is the combined storyline of one of sci-fi's most influential fantasy characters - Jeremiah Cornelius - Jerry for short. Jerry spends his life being James Bond, God, HAL(*) and a pop icon - among other things. The character has spurned on much in the way of cult literature history similarly to what Lovecraft did with his Cthulhu series. For example, the books have been banned in various parts of the world due to content, the band Hawkwind recorded a song called Needle Gun about Mr. C and Human League(**) also claims him as inspiration. He's become quite an icon. Moorcock's Cornelius series has also inspired such notables as William Gibson, Bruce Sterling, Alan Moore and Neil Gaiman.

I personally did find The Cornelius Quartet a bit difficult to read, but doing so did give me a lot of satisfaction. The ideas touched upon in The Final Programme, the first novel in the quartet; the idea of taking the root of all human knowledge, pouring it into a computer and then wirejacking through it to become the sum of all knowledge…it probably sounds confusing, and that's because it sure as fuck is. But that's only one example of the type of things this existential-level collection will tread upon and that's only the first of four stories here.

Cornelius really does remind me of a more twisted, darker James Bond. He drives the coolest cars, is independently wealthy, has unusual weapons and a castle with secret rooms. And he's so fucking cool. But Moorcock's novels about him have found themselves banned from sale in Spain, Canada, Italy, Ireland and other places. That's probably due to the strap-on and incestuous sex scenes. Or something.

I found the book interesting. I'm not sure I can say it was a frolicking fun time, but it was very interesting. There's a lot to be said here - a lot of ground was covered. It wasn't explored, you were just shown the door; but there's a whole lot of interesting doors to look at.

Buy The Album
Buy "The Cornelius Quartet"

(*) From 2001, you dork.
(**) Don't you want me, baby?

"The Cornelius Quartet" by Michael Moorcock
Published by Four Walls Eight Windows
Copyright © 2001 by Michael Moorcock
ISBN: 1-56858-183-1

Legends Online