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Savoy Books 
My Experiences in the
Third World War

Michael Moorcock


1980

b/w illustrated

193mm x 125mm

Soft covers

First publication

176pp

ISBN 0 86130 037 8

My Experiences

 

Jerry Cornelius
Tales of an unreliable narrator. Contains three 'Third World War' stories of a planned longer work, the commissioning of which was interrupted by Savoy's conviction in the High Court for selling bootleg records. The book was completed with the addition of previously uncollected material, including the collaborative comic strip The Adventures of Jerry Cornelius (1971), first published by International Times (script: Moorcock/M John Harrison; drawings: Mal Dean/R Glyn Jones). The title stories were later reprinted in the The Opium General (1984, Harrap). Illustrations by Jill Riches and Derek Twiss.

Cover art: Michael Heslop.


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  Contents:
  • Author's Introduction
  • Going to Canada
  • Leaving Pasadena
  • Crossing into Cambodia
  • The Dodgem Division
  • The Adventures of Jerry Cornelius: The English Assassin (comic strip)
  • Peace on Earth
  • The Lovebeast
  • The Real Life Mr Newman (Adventures of the Dead Astronaut)

 

Reviews

"A character in this book suggests that the Fourth World War was fought in the country of the soul. When asked who won, he replies: "No one. It merely prepared us for this".

If only we were prepared for Michael Moorcock. He is a writer of genius, beholden only to an intensely personal vision that is arresting and original, sometimes enigmatic and often elusive. His name appears on novels that were years in the making—Gloriana and the forthcoming Byzantium Endures—and those that were written over the space of a week, such as The Great Rock and Roll Swindle. In America, he is revered for quickly-written fantasy novels (several of which he despises), while his serious fiction remains misunderstood and undersold. In England, he is gaining recognition as a novelist of major literary importance. His work transcends fantasy and science fiction, and may best be classified as "unclassifiable".

My Experiences in The Third World War is a potpourri of Moorcock's experimentation, spanning the more than twenty years of his writing career. The title refers to an opening trilogy of short stories written in 1978-79: Going Into Canada, Leaving Pasadena, and Crossing Into Cambodia. They are the compelling eschatological memoirs of a Russian political officer as he experiences an "alternative apocalypse" in which America and Russia are allied in a rather ambiguous Armageddon. Moorcock's focus in these stories, however, is not the "Third World War", but the nature of his narrator. The experiment is one of narrative subjectivity, in which the narrator "is revealed not so much by what he says as by what he selects to say to the reader."

The remaining two-thirds of the collection represents vintage Moorcockiana. A previously uncollected Jerry Cornelius story, The Dodgem Division, is paired with the rare Cornelius comic strip from International Times (co-authored by Moorcock and M. John Harrison, with graphics by Mal Dean and R Glyn Jones). Peace On Earth is described by Moorcock as his "first adult SF story", originally published in 1958 in a form expanded by Barrington Bayley. It concerns the quest of two spacefarers for an answer to the fathomless ennui caused by their immortality. The Lovebeast, written in 1957, is an ironic allegory that bears reading in juxtaposition with Harlan Ellison's The Beast That Shouted Love at the Heart of the World. The collection concludes with the 1965 novella, The Real Life of Mr Newman (Adventures of the Dead Astronaut), in which a dead or dying English astronaut returns to an Earth whose cities are changed to reflect the moral subconsciousness of their inhabitants.

All of the stories invoke the moral concern and allegoric intent that has characterised Moorcock's recent novels. To be sure, the earliest works are rough-edged and imbued with a certain naiveté, but the collection confirms that time has dimmed neither Moorcock's raging, iconoclastic humanism, nor the continually growing ambition and polish of his prose. Highly recommended."

DOUGLAS E WINTER

 

"Buck Rogers, the comic strip created by Phil Nowlan in 1923, stayed in continuous production until, the mid-sixties, around about the time when Jerry Cornelius made his first appearance in New Worlds magazine. Whereas Rogers was a twenty-fifth century adventurer with nineteenth century morals, Cornelius soon showed himself to be an altogether different breed of cartoon character: dissipated, cowardly, and curiously reflective when it came to action. Moorcock encouraged other writers to use Jerry in their stories and placed him at the centre of one of the most important fictional achievements of the seventies: his own Jerry Cornelius Quartet.

His new anthology, published by Savoy as an original paperback, contains rare pieces of Corneliana: The Dodgem Division, a previously uncollected short story in which Jerry cruises round Brighton pouring vitriolic abuse on the rambling narratives of John Braine and Kingsley Amis; and The English Assassin, one of the most famous Cornelius comic strips with illustrations by Mal Dean.

But the book is something more than just a rehashing of old material. There are three excellent new stories which revolve around the theme of the Third World War. Set against a background of apocalypse, these fictions show Moorcock at his most ironic and most moral, experimenting with the role of the unreliable narrator while questioning the Western stereotype of Soviet aggression."

RICHARD RAYNER, Time Out


More Moorcock in Savoy:

Introductions:

  • The Golden Strangers (Henry Treece)
  • The Dark Island (Henry Treece)
  • The Great Captains (Henry Treece)
  • Red Queen, White Queen (Henry Treece)
  • Interviews:

  • Who Writes Science Fiction? (Charles Platt)
  • Death Is No Obstacle (Colin Greenland)
  • Articles:

  • Cities Of The Red Night: A Review
  • An English Exile In Hollywood
  • Both in Savoy Dreams

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