Read The Condition of Muzak Online

Authors: Michael Moorcock

The Condition of Muzak

Also available from Michael Moorcock, Titan Books and Titan Comics

A NOMAD OF THE TIME STREAMS

The Warlord of the Air

The Land Leviathan

The Steel Tsar

THE ETERNAL CHAMPION SERIES

The Eternal Champion

Phoenix in Obsidian

The Dragon in the Sword

THE CORUM SERIES

The Knight of the Swords

The Queen of the Swords

The King of the Swords

The Bull and the Spear

The Oak and the Ram

The Sword and the Stallion

THE CORNELIUS QUARTET

The Final Programme

A Cure for Cancer

The English Assassin

THE MICHAEL MOORCOCK LIBRARY

Elric of Melniboné

Elric: Sailor on the Seas of Fate

MICHAEL MOORCOCK’S ELRIC

Volume 1: The Ruby Throne

Volume 2: Stormbringer

The Condition of Muzak
Print edition ISBN: 9781783291830
E-book edition ISBN: 9781783291823

Published by Titan Books
A division of Titan Publishing Group Ltd
144 Southwark Street, London SE1 0UP

First Titan edition: May 2016
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10

This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, business establishments, events, or locales is entirely coincidental. The publisher does not have any control over and does not assume any responsibility for author or third-party websites or their content.

Copyright © Michael and Linda Moorcock, 1977, and Multiverse Inc. Revised version copyright © Michael and Linda Moorcock, 2016, and Multiverse Inc. All characters, the distinctive likenesses thereof, and all related indicia are TM and © 2016 Michael and Linda Moorcock and Multiverse Inc.

Edited by John Davey.

No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form or by any means without the prior written permission of the publisher, nor be otherwise circulated in any form of binding or cover other than that in which it is published and without a similar condition being imposed on the subsequent purchaser.

A CIP catalogue record for this title is available from the British Library.

This book is dedicated with gratitude to the following people who, at different times, encouraged me through the eleven years this tetralogy took to complete: Clive Alison, Hilary Bailey, Jimmy Ballard, Edward Blishen, Alan Brien, John Clute, Barry Cole, Mal Dean, Michael Dempsey, Tom Disch, George Ernsberger, Giles Gordon, Mike Harrison, Doug Hill, Langdon Jones, Richard Glyn Jones, Philip Oakes, Keith Roberts, Jim Sallis, Norman Spinrad, Jack Trevor Story, Jon Trux, Angus Wilson.

NOTE TO THE READER

Although these books may be read in any order, the reader might wish to know that the structure of this volume reflects the structure of the overall tetrology.

CONTENTS

Cover

Also by Michael Moorcock

Title Page

Copyright

Dedication

Note to the Reader

Epigraph

TUNING UP (1)

PRELUDE

J.C.

Major Nye

Una Persson

Sebastian Auchinek

Mrs C. and Colonel P.

EARLY REPORTS

TUNING UP (2)

INTRODUCTION

  1.    The dog-fight missile designed to dominate its decade

  2.    Matra ubiquity with 2nd and 3rd generation missiles

  3.    Acquire targets simply, reliably and accurately…

  4.    Introducing a new dimension of realism in visual simulators, Vital III

  5.    Need actuators that won’t freeze, burn, dry out, or boil?

  6.    In the beginning was flight…

  7.    Optics for defence

  8.    The BL 755 cluster bomb…

  9.    The Strim antitank rocket launcher…

10.    Rapier, ultra low-level air defence system…

EARLY REPORTS

TUNING UP (3)

DEVELOPMENT

  1.    Seven years for bank-raid vicar

  2.    Society hostess death riddle

  3.    An important message to every man and woman in America losing his or her hair

  4.    Cross country rape and slay spree of the frustrated bondage freak

  5.    Spirit voices help me—Peter Sellers talks about the strange power that has entered his life

THE REUNION PARTY

  6.    BAC cools hopes of airship boom

  7.    UFOs—occupants and artifacts in Eastern Indiana

  8.    The girl next door could be a witch

  9.    A Bicentennial celebration. The 1976 Guns & Ammo Annual…

10.    High intensity colour (that’s actually good for your eyes!)

EARLY REPORTS

TUNING UP (4)

RECAPITULATION

  1.    The God from the machine

  2.    With the flag to Pretoria

  3.    The Pathfinder

  4.    The outcast of the islands

  5.    What is art?

  6.    The Birth and Adventures of Harlequin

  7.    Harlequin Invisible; or, The Emperor of China’s Court

  8.    The Metamorphosis of Harlequin

  9.    The Death of Harlequin

10.    The Mirror; or, Harlequin Everywhere

EARLY REPORTS

TUNING UP (5)

CODA

Mrs C. and Frankie C.

Auchinek

Persson

Nye

A Bundle

Appendix I

Appendix II

Appendix III

Also Available from Titan Books and Michael Moorcock

Also Available from Titan Comics

Praise for Michael Moorcock

 

All art constantly aspires towards the condition of music. For while in all other works of art it is possible to distinguish the matter from the form, and the understanding can always make this distinction, yet it is the constant effort of art to obliterate it.

—Pater

 

What’s more in HERCULES than HARLEQUIN.

One slew the Hydra, this can kill the Spleen;

In him Behold the Age’s Genius bright;

A Patch-Coat Hero, this great Town’s delight.

With Craft and Policy, his humour tends

To publick Mirth, and profitable ends.

Let Envy gnash her teeth, let Poets rail

Whilst PIERO is his Guide he cannot fail.

Satirical print:
The Stage’s Glory
, 1731

 

Each flower and fern in this enchanted wood

Leans to her fellow, and is understood;

The eglantine, in loftier station set,

Stoops down to woo the maidly violet.

In gracile pains the very lilies grow:

None is companionless except Pierrot.

Music, more music! how its echoes steal

Upon my senses with unlooked for weal.

Tired am I, tired, and far from this lone glade

Seems mine old joy in route and masquerade,

Sleep cometh over me, how will I prove,

By Cupid’s grace, what is this thing called love?

[
Sleeps
]

—Dowson,
Pierrot of the Minute

 

Hop! enlevons sur les horizons fades

Les menuets de nos pantalonnades!

Tiens! l’Univers

Est à l’envers…

 

—Tout cela vous honore,

Lord Pierrot, mais encore?

 

—Laforgue,
Complainte de Lord Pierrot

TUNING UP (1)

As Major Nye tried to brush some green and brown stains from the collar of his tropical combat jacket a little damp earth fell from his neck and struck the fused stone of the timeless causeway. Around him what remained of the ruins of Angkor merged with the blackened boles of a defoliated jungle; the area was at peace; it had ceased to be of strategic importance. About fifty feet away a huge stone head of Ganesh, elephant god of trade and good luck, lay on its side where a 105mm shell had shot it between the eyes, blasting a deep gash in the stone above the base of its trunk: the wound glinted white and crystalline against the surrounding mossy grey of the forehead; the god seemed to have acquired a disenchanted third orb. Though a few monkeys and parrots (no longer the rowdy insouciants of more glorious pre-war years) crept about in the higher terraces, pausing cautiously if they disturbed a fragment of plaster or dislodged a twig, there were few sounds of life in the city.

Major Nye had at first found the city peaceful but he was becoming increasingly uneasy with the tensions which had gone to produce that peace. He lifted his head towards his right as, from the twisted and fire-blasted turret of a wrecked tank, a poor copy of a Vickers Mark I Main Battle (the ‘Shiva’), emerged the chubby khaki bottom of a small Brahmin. Behind the tank the jungle brooded. “It’s no go, I’m afraid, major.” The Brahmin wiped fat hands on his oily fatigues and wriggled round so that he could face Nye. “Not a scrap.” He flourished an empty picnic hamper.

This was the Shiva which had scored the hit on Ganesh: its occupant was the only survivor of retaliatory rocket-fire which had, in turn, taken out the tank. He called himself “Hythloday” but Nye knew his real name. ‘Hythloday’ had been a technical advisor with the Indian mercenary mechanised cavalry in its now famous sweep from Darjeeling to Saigon. Some months earlier, having no room for passengers, the cavalry had left him behind with his broken tank, and two days ago Major Nye, making a routine search-and-destroy operation in the area on behalf of his Khmer employers, had found him, recognising him as a former acquaintance. Major Nye had not reported his capture—there would have been little point, for yesterday he had intercepted a radio report: Phnôm Penh had sustained a tactical nuclear strike, possibly Tasmanian in origin. Without question it was curtains for the Khmers.

Unemployed again, bereft of the loyalties he needed so badly, Major Nye stroked his ancient tash and drew grey brows together. His pale hair, thin and sandy, his pale blue eyes, stood out in contrast to the heavy tan on his near fleshless face and neck. “Ah, well,” he said in answer to Hythloday’s statement, “there are always the emergency rations. I must say the world is not the one I knew as a boy.” He lowered his Armbrust 300 anti-tank weapon to the ground and unpacked the box at his belt. “Still, peace has been restored and that’s important. Though at a price, of course.”

From behind a crackling mass of fried foliage a third figure climbed up the masonry and sat beside him on the slab: a young man in tatty out-of-date clothing, haunted and demoralised by something more than war. The major offered him a strip of pemmican. “You seem cold, old chap. Are you sure you haven’t picked up a spot of fever?”

“It depends what you mean, major.” Jerry Cornelius turned the ragged collar of his black car coat so that it framed his face. He accepted the dehydrated meat and raised it reluctantly to his lips. His eyes were hot, his skin flushed. He was shivering.

Professor Hira joined them. “You’ve had the last of the medical kit, I regret to say, Mr Cornelius.”

Cornelius had revealed himself to them on the previous day. From what he had told them he seemed to have been hiding in the ruins for a long time, since well before the final battle. Today he was, physically, slightly better than when they had found him, though he continued to deny that there was anything wrong with him. He had accepted the morphine, he said, because he hated to look a gift-horse in the mouth. Similarly the quinine, the penicillin and the valium. There was at least a score of recent holes in his forearms.

“It’s industrialisation I need.” Jerry shifted himself so that he squatted at Major Nye’s feet. “I’ve developed this horrible antipathy towards peasant communities. Particularly Slavs and South-East Asians. What makes them so cruel?”

“It’s hard to sympathise, isn’t it?” Professor Hira nodded his head. “Original sin, I suspect. The devil come to Eden. It can’t be the climate or the terrain.” He had decided to skip the jerky and was gnawing, instead, on a root. “It can’t be poverty.”

“The very opposite, in my view,” said Major Nye. “The richest New Guinea tribes were always the nastiest. Don’t Kiev and Bangkok have a great deal in common with Crawley or Brighton?”

“Or Skokie,” said Professor Hira with a certain amount of feeling.

They looked at him in surprise. He shrugged. “It was a long time ago.”

Major Nye carefully packed up the rest of the rations. “I wouldn’t mind getting back to Blighty myself. Better the devil you know, eh? A return to reality.”

“Oh, Christ.” Jerry began to shiver again. He rose. “That’s the last thing I need.”

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