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Firing the Cathedral

by Michael Moorcock (introduction by Alan Moore)

(PS Publishing, 8, 112 pages, signed limited edition paperback, ISBN 1-902880447; also available as signed limited edition hardback priced 25, published August 2002.)

I think I'm finally beginning to 'get' Moorcock's Jerry Cornelius (who makes his triumphant post-millennial return in Firing The Cathedral). Reading the original trilogy from the sixties (in the mid-nineties) I thought it was cover scankind of cool but didn't really see what all the fuss was about, and that seemed to be because it was one of those things where you really did have to have been there at the time.

I wasn't there in the sixties, but I'm very much here now as bombs fall on Iraq, missiles are tested over India and Pakistan, and North Korea burbles away to itself in a quiet corner. I'm here now as entropy levels seem to be busting off the top of the graph, gas masks are the new black and the Christian right in the US are looking to shoo in the end of the world so they can get to heaven on time.

Firing The Cathedral (like all the Jerry Cornelius books) is a surreal cut'n'pasted gallop through a blackly comic near future. Jerry has recovered from the ennui of the eighties and nineties and is back -- looking good in his emperor's new clothes -- on our post-9/11 planet.

I think I can now understand why sartorial elegance, amorality and destruction might be so seductive a response to encroaching global madness. On the other hand, I still don't understand what's actually supposed to be going on behind the scenes in a Jerry Cornelius novel -- perhaps I'm lacking some 'Moorcock' gene? Alan Moore's excellent introduction and the inclusion of recent news stories and soundbites as chapter headings fortunately provide something of a frame to Firing The Cathedral, as well as adding a much-needed satirical edge, making this a blisteringly satirical look at the times and the state that we're in.

It's a terrible shame that the typesetting is so atrocious and that your humble reviewer wasn't as au fait with the characters as perhaps other readers might be, but they were recognisable enough as archetypes for me to enjoy and appreciate their use.

Firing The Cathedral is a darkly comic read, and one you should thoroughly enjoy reading straight after the news has finished on TV, but I can't shake the nagging feeling that I've missed something important somewhere along the way.

Review by Stuart Carter

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