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the Complete Review
the complete review - fiction

The Final Programme

Michael Moorcock

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To purchase The Cornelius Quartet

Title: The Final Programme
Author: Michael Moorcock
Genre: Novel
Written: 1965
Length: 163 pages
Availability: in The Cornelius Quartet - US
in The Cornelius Quartet - UK
in The Cornelius Quartet - Canada
in Les Aventures de Jerry Cornelius - France
Miss Brunners letztes Programm - Deutschland
  • Also: The Final Program
  • Available in The Cornelius Quartet (also: The Cornelius Chronicles, see our review)
  • The Final Programme was made into a film in 1973, directed by Robert Fuest, with Jon Finch as Jerry Cornelius, Jenny Runacre as Miss Brunner, and Patrick Magee as Dr. Baxter
  • The 1976 US edition of The Final Program included an introduction by Norman Spinrad
  • The Final Programme was first published in its revised form in 1979
  • Illustrated by Malcolm Dean

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Our Assessment:

B : enjoyable, well-written little adventure -- a fun, simple, wild ride

See our review for fuller assessment.

The complete review's Review:

       The Final Programme introduces one of Michael Moorcock's most enduring creations: the multifaceted Jeremiah "Jerry" Cornelius. These adventures were first published in New Worlds magazine; others would follow (see the other volumes in The Cornelius Quartet / The Cornelius Chronicles and elsewhere). But Moorcock also freed his malleable character for others to use, and so there are numerous variations on the Jerry Cornelius theme.
       The Final Programme is, however, where it all began -- a curious beginning, actually, given its finality. It is a fun little adventure. The world portrayed in The Final Programme is almost like the real one, with only a few added dystopian wrinkles. "An odd kind of limbo", one of the characters says of contemporary life in the novel: "Society hovers on the point of collapse, eh ? Chaos threatens." But then it almost always does.
       Jerry Cornelius is a man of many talents, and some of these talents are needed for a particular project. He must lead an expedition to infiltrate his father's old house (a "fake Le Corbusier château" in Normandy), where his evil brother Frank is holed up with some data of critical importance. Only Jerry can navigate through the booby-traps and defenses. The "hallucinatory protective devices" (LSD gas and the like) aren't enough to stop Jerry and his expedition, but it isn't a complete success: Jerry can't save his sister and great love, Catherine, and he doesn't emerge unscathed either.
       Work on the project -- led by a Miss Brunner -- does, however, continue apace, and Jerry's services are eventually required again. What is it they are working on ? DUEL.

"(...) it's a big project, DUEL ..."
"The biggest, Mr. Cornelius."
       Physically it is San Simeon big -- and that in the northern reaches of Scandinavia. Metaphysically it is much bigger.
       Miss Brunner and Jerry work together. "You two -- you are an ambivalent pair", someone observes (to which Jerry can only reply: "I wish you were wrong"). And Frank is not easily eliminated as a threat.
       Ultimately, the programme is realized and Jerry takes centrestage again, as the test-subject turned übermensch, "the world's first all-purpose human being."
       It's a brisk, odd tale of transformation and vengeance, of worlds lost and brave new worlds sighted on the horizon. There's old-fashioned action and newfangled technologies, family conflicts (and some incest too). There's philosophizing, and exoticism as Jerry travels from Angkor Wat to Lapland -- though few places are as exotic as his London.
       "It was a world ruled these days by the gun, the guitar, and the needle, sexier than sex". Jerry can handle himself quite well in it, but he can't stand above or beyond it, getting sucked in instead. At the end of The Final Programme he seems to have transcended it -- but the Jerry Cornelius of the other novels in the series reverts back to type.

       It is an interesting, grand beginning for Jerry Cornelius. Fairly short, fast-paced, The Final Programme is a good little action-adventure story, with some decent twists. Moorcock could have embellished parts, but it works as is too.
       A fun little entertainment, making one curious for more.

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The Cornelius Quartet: The Final Programme - the film: Michael Moorcock: Other books by Michael Moorcock under review: Other books of interest under review:

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About the Author:

       Michael Moorcock, born in 1939, is a prolific British author.

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