The Black Corridor

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A SF novel co-written with Hilary Bailey, the working title of which was 'The Distant Suns'.

Publishing History (UK)

  • Mass Market Paperback, Mayflower, 128pp., ISBN: 0-583-11640-X, Dec 1969 - reprinted 1970
  • Mass Market Paperback, Mayflower, 128pp., ISBN: 0-583-11640-X, 1973, Cover by Bob Haberfield - reprinted 1974, 1975, 1980
  • Mass Market Paperback, Granada, 128pp., ISBN: 0-583-11640-X, 1982, Cover by Bob Haberfield

tbc_mayf70.jpg tbc_mayf73.jpg tbc_gran82.jpg

Omnibus Publication (UK)

Publishing History (US)

  • Mass Market Paperback, Ace, ISBN: 0-441-06530-9, 1969, Cover by Leo & Diane Dillon
  • Hardcover, SFBC, 1970, Cover by Leo & Diane Dillon

tbc_ace69.jpg tbc_sfbc70.jpg

Omnibus Publication (US)

Typographical Art

Moorcock uses 'typographical art' (words creating a pattern of other letters forming other words) throughout the novel. As various editions have been produced issues have arisen with the display of this art.

  • The first US paperback edition (Ace, 1969) got its typographical art correct, but had the book's opening passages cut.
  • The first British edition (Mayflower, 1969) got the book's opening passages correct, but messed up the typographical art.
  • Although messed up, the first British edition at least managed to get the various pieces of typographical art all on their correct pages, which is more than can be said for all subsequent American editions (such as the Ace hardcover and the omnibus combining The Black Corridor with (bizarrely) The Adventures of Una Persson and Catherine Cornelius').
  • For the Orion and, particularly, White Wolf omnibus editions of Sailing to Utopia every effort was made to perfect both the opening and the typographical art.[1]

bctypo1.jpg

(Example of typographic art from The Black Corridor in Sailing to Utopia, Orion Books, mass-market paperback edition.)

The Distant Suns

In 1968 Moorcock was approached by the London editor of The Illustrated Weekly of India for a serial story that would both develop an Indian audience for sf and address some "hidebound ideas" that technology was in conflict with traditional wisdom.[2] Moorcock's original idea was to adapt the story he was about to start working on - The Distant Suns - for the Indian weekly, but after discussing things with the London editor decided it would be better to start from scratch. The existing work became The Black Corridor while the working title was appropriated for the IWoI serial. Some early sections of The Distant Suns contain passages similar - even identical - to The Black Corridor.[3]

Mike Says

  • "The ending of Black Corridor was deliberately ambiguous. You never know if the whole thing is the central character's fantasy or not."[4]
  • "What happened was that Hilary was writing a straight future disaster story -- collapse of society stuff -- but didn't get that far with it. I borrowed that for the scenes on Earth and rewrote it fairly heavily. All the scenes in the ship are mine. Many of the scenes back on Earth are Hilary's. That's why it was never presented as a regular collaboration. She didn't want it done that way. So I worked in acknowledgements in the dedication."[5]
  • "I think the best versions (most accurate typographically) are probably the more recent in the omnibus editions. Some of them have been awful. It was originally written for Terry Carr's 'adult' line of Ace Specials. We both knew at the time that sf readers pretty much stopped reading the stuff by the time they got to college age (say 18-21) and we both felt there was room for sf which appealed to that older readership. Terry's books were deliberately aimed at readers of 18 and up. We assumed such readers were sophisticated, smart and generally well-read. I think we were right."[6]

Notes

  1. http://www.multiverse.org/fora/showpost.php?p=85484&postcount=13
  2. 'Introduction', The Distant Suns, New English Library, 1989
  3. Much of the opening to The Black Corridor is repeated, pretty much verbatim, in Chapter Three of The Distant Suns. Since the latter novel followed the former in the Sailing to Utopia omnibus most of this passage was excised from The Distant Suns in the White Wolf and Millennium mass-market paperback editions. It remains in the Millennium hardcover and trade paperback editions.
  4. http://www.multiverse.org/fora/showpost.php?p=106343&postcount=1
  5. http://www.multiverse.org/fora/showpost.php?p=17441&postcount=2
  6. http://www.multiverse.org/fora/showpost.php?p=85415&postcount=11

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