Thursday, 22 April 2010

The English Assassin - Re-accessing Science Fiction

Ok ... after a brief spat (the length of 4 novels) of feeding my literary obsession via a free iphone app in which I devoured 2 Agatha Christie mysteries, one Sherlock Holmes and an Edgar Rice Burrough foray into Mars, I have now returned to the printed word (courtesy of Kill City 2nd hand bookstore and a comparably more solvent bank account this month) with Michael Moorcock's The English Assassin.

I've always had a precarious relationship with Science Fiction. I think its the overwrought philosophizing that seems to make up the oeuvre of many sci fi writers that bothers me the most. There's always some Adam and Eve slash God complex underpinning these stories which I don't find terribly interesting ... and don't get me started on authors that try to invent an alien language ... unless you're an experienced linguist like Tolkien, don't even bother!! Its like books that have quotes in foreign languages without a translation to assist (hello Umberto Eco) ... we don't all know latin/greek/french/celtic!! And some of us don't like pretending. (and this is all for the benefit for the less erudite amongst you ... I being the accomplished linguist that I am can usually work these things out without climbing the tower of babel ... yeah we're going there!!)

Anyhoo, what can I say about Moorcock's English Assassin - a romance of entropy (to give it its full title). There is indeed an entropic sheen to proceedings .. this is post-apocolyptic Europe and arguably an early proponent on what is referred to as Steampunk these days with its technological and structural anachronisms ... although I think this is more a proclivity towards the reshaping of fundamental english life and society.

The characters are incredibly well drawn but more importantly these are intriguing personalities: there's the dancehall ingenue turned sexy lesbian mercenary ... the retired colonel chasing after old glory ... and of course the English Assasin himself who washes up into a briny cove on the coast of cornwall and spends the better part of the novel in a catatonic state. Admittedly I am jumping in at the latter end of the Jerry Cornelius story - this is the third book in the Cornelius Quartet. But it makes no nevermind ... this is a great sci-fi/fantasy romp in spite of the overlapping narrative strains ... which some people find disorienting. I'm only about a quarter of the way through but I've read enough to thoroughly reccomend this.

And now I'm extremely curious about the movie that was made on one of the JC stories called the Final Programme in the UK and The Last Days of Man on Earth in the US (Paging Mr Torrent and Mrs Backup!!)

Which leaves me wondering why there are not more movie/tv adaptations of Michael Moorcock's books? Its criminal. Likewise William Gibson (we shall not mention Kennunu's disaster). And someone televise a Jasper Fforde series already!!!!


Post a Comment

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...