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The Black Corridor

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  • The Black Corridor

    Not sure if this has been asked here before, but I believe The Black Corridor was a collaboration with your first wife Hilary Bailey. If so, how was it written? Although not credited, she receives acknowledgment in the dedication.

    Also, there are textual differences between the original UK and US editions, including the dedication. Why was that? What sort of reception did the book get? It wasn't like most of your stuff at the time.
    'You know, I can't keep up with you. If I hadn't met you in person, I quite honestly would NOT believe you really existed. I just COULDN'T. You do so MUCH... if half of what goes into your zines is to be believed, you've read more at the age of 17 than I have at the age of 32 - LOTS more'

    Archie Mercer to Mike (Burroughsania letters page, 1957)

  • #2
    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.
    Ironically, the stuff Calvert liked to read out at Hawkwind gigs was cut from the US edition by the editor, Terry Carr, who thought it too
    windy.
    So it goes.

    Pre-order or Buy my latest titles in Europe:
    The Whispering Swarm: Book One of the Sanctuary of the White Friars - The Laughter of Carthage - Byzantium Endures - London Peculiar and Other Nonfiction
    Doctor Who: The Coming of the Terraphiles - Kizuna: Fiction for Japan - Modem Times 2.0 - The Sunday Books - The Sundered Worlds


    Pre-order or Buy my latest titles in the USA:
    The Laughter of Carthage - Byzantium Endures - London Peculiar and Other Nonfiction - The Sunday Books - Doctor Who: The Coming of the Terraphiles
    Kizuna: Fiction for Japan - The Sundered Worlds - The Winds of Limbo - Modem Times 2.0 - Elric: Swords and Roses

    Comment


    • #3
      Too windy? Strange what editors sometimes choose to cut - the best stuff! It's one of my favourite parts in Space Ritual, too.

      Comment


      • #4
        Re: The Black Corridor

        Originally posted by Aral Vilsn
        there are textual differences between the original UK and US editions [of the Black Corridor], including the dedication.
        There sure are! There're even textual differneces betwteen the first Mayflower paperback edition and the hardcover edition for the Uk.
        I guess editors just wanna put their oar in to prove they're worth their money.
        "If the environment were a bank, we would already have saved it." -Graffitti.

        Comment


        • #5
          Ted Carnell, editor of New Worlds, Science Fantsy, Science Fiction Adventures, who published early work by me, Ballard, Aldiss, Brunner, Clarke and many others, could be an aggressive editor. He was much loved and in spite of his foibles everyone cared a great deal for him, but as Kyril Bonfiglioli said of him 'He was one of those editors who could immediately recognise the heart of a story. And then tell you to cut it out.'
          Much missed man, Bon, for all he was a rogue.

          Anyone read is Mordecai thrillers ? Very much based on his own life and times.

          Pre-order or Buy my latest titles in Europe:
          The Whispering Swarm: Book One of the Sanctuary of the White Friars - The Laughter of Carthage - Byzantium Endures - London Peculiar and Other Nonfiction
          Doctor Who: The Coming of the Terraphiles - Kizuna: Fiction for Japan - Modem Times 2.0 - The Sunday Books - The Sundered Worlds


          Pre-order or Buy my latest titles in the USA:
          The Laughter of Carthage - Byzantium Endures - London Peculiar and Other Nonfiction - The Sunday Books - Doctor Who: The Coming of the Terraphiles
          Kizuna: Fiction for Japan - The Sundered Worlds - The Winds of Limbo - Modem Times 2.0 - Elric: Swords and Roses

          Comment


          • #6
            Re: The Black Corridor

            Originally posted by Jagged
            Originally posted by Aral Vilsn
            there are textual differences between the original UK and US editions [of the Black Corridor], including the dedication.
            There sure are! There're even textual differneces betwteen the first Mayflower paperback edition and the hardcover edition for the Uk.
            I guess editors just wanna put their oar in to prove they're worth their money.
            All these years, I've been living in a fool's paradise, thinking the version
            of The Black Corridor I read was complete. It was perhaps the 3rd or
            4th of his books that I read, and I was much taken with it. I haven't read it
            in 30+ years, but I remember it fondly. I was thinking about going back and
            taking a look at it, but now...it sounds as if I need to get a new copy!

            I hope it's in print in the UK. I doubt it's in print in the U.S. :-[

            LSN

            Comment


            • #7
              The problem was that was getting printers to do the material in which words create a pattern of other letters forming other words. Few publishers noted what I was doing, and so there are some dodgy editions out there. The most recent editions generally took care of that problem.
              That's why the book which appears in the omnibus editions is probably the best text.

              Pre-order or Buy my latest titles in Europe:
              The Whispering Swarm: Book One of the Sanctuary of the White Friars - The Laughter of Carthage - Byzantium Endures - London Peculiar and Other Nonfiction
              Doctor Who: The Coming of the Terraphiles - Kizuna: Fiction for Japan - Modem Times 2.0 - The Sunday Books - The Sundered Worlds


              Pre-order or Buy my latest titles in the USA:
              The Laughter of Carthage - Byzantium Endures - London Peculiar and Other Nonfiction - The Sunday Books - Doctor Who: The Coming of the Terraphiles
              Kizuna: Fiction for Japan - The Sundered Worlds - The Winds of Limbo - Modem Times 2.0 - Elric: Swords and Roses

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by Michael Moorcock
                Ted Carnell, editor of New Worlds, Science Fantsy, Science Fiction Adventures, who published early work by me, Ballard, Aldiss, Brunner, Clarke and many others, could be an aggressive editor. He was much loved and in spite of his foibles everyone cared a great deal for him, but as Kyril Bonfiglioli said of him 'He was one of those editors who could immediately recognise the heart of a story. And then tell you to cut it out.'
                Much missed man, Bon, for all he was a rogue.

                Anyone read is Mordecai thrillers ? Very much based on his own life and times.
                A very much missed man Mr Moorcock. You were lucky to have known him, a pleasure of which i was unable to enjoy. My Grandfather, a rogue?? tut tut! He left many a book written by you, i am working through them slowly, and enjoying them immensely. :D

                Comment


                • #9
                  I've just published my review of TBC in Moorcock's Marvellous Manuscripts (see here) and I was puzzled because having stumbled upon a summary on Wikipedia it seems I may have mis-read the book.

                  Originally posted by Wikipedia
                  Ryan is tormented by nightmares and memories of the violence on Earth; he starts to fear he is losing his grip on reality. The shipboard computer urges him to take a drug that eliminates all delusions and hallucinations; but he is strangely reluctant to use this drug.


                  The crisis passes and Ryan continues his futile flight through darkness. The computer asks for a report on his own condition: 'Condition Steady', he types.

                  Alternative interpretation of the ending.
                  The Black Corridor is essentially a novel about the decay of society and deep personal and social isolation this has caused.

                  Another interpretation of the ending was


                  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Black_Corridor
                  Whereas, my reading of the narrative was more along the lines of:

                  Originally posted by David Mosley
                  ...[the reader is] led to believe that Ryan (and his family/friends) has set out to escape a corrupt Earth for a new life on another planet, yet as we learn more about Ryan's personal backstory it becomes clear that he too is sick with corruption and instead of fleeing a dying Earth he is inescapably dragging his own corruption with him. Far from being the clear-thinking, pragmatic businessman/family man he perceives himself to be, Ryan is craven, paranoid, an adulterer and murderer.
                  The introduction of the drug MA-19, which is supposed to cure Ryan's hallucinations, set my mental antenna spinning, because I've recently read the other books where the drug appears - specifically The Deep Fix - and it immediately seemed to me that MA-19 would be more likely to exacerbate the problems and accelerate Ryan's decline into psychosis rather than cure him. Perhaps this was just me reading more into the meta-text than someone reading TBC in isolation would be able to deduce?

                  My reading therefore was that


                  What are other readers thoughts on the meaning of the book?
                  Last edited by Rothgo; 10-16-2012, 04:48 AM. Reason: Added spoilers
                  _"For an eternity Allard was alone in an icy limbo where all the colours were bright and sharp and comfortless.
                  _For another eternity Allard swam through seas without end, all green and cool and deep, where distorted creatures drifted, sometimes attacking him.
                  _And then, at last, he had reached the real world – the world he had created, where he was God and could create or destroy whatever he wished.
                  _He was supremely powerful. He told planets to destroy themselves, and they did. He created suns. Beautiful women flocked to be his. Of all men, he was the mightiest. Of all gods, he was the greatest."

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    The Black Corridor was the third book of Mike's I ever read all the way through, following The Shores of Death and The Winds of Limbo. I found them all in a bookshop in Swanage, Dorset, while on a family holiday in 1980 and devoured them all. I was finishing Black Corrdior on the coach on the way home

                    My memories of the book are very vague, as I have never got round to a re-read, I just remember the unusual type and that it seemed a more 'adult' type of sf than I was used to. Will have to dig it out and tackle it again. But which version...?
                    'You know, I can't keep up with you. If I hadn't met you in person, I quite honestly would NOT believe you really existed. I just COULDN'T. You do so MUCH... if half of what goes into your zines is to be believed, you've read more at the age of 17 than I have at the age of 32 - LOTS more'

                    Archie Mercer to Mike (Burroughsania letters page, 1957)

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      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. There are a lot more now!

                      Pre-order or Buy my latest titles in Europe:
                      The Whispering Swarm: Book One of the Sanctuary of the White Friars - The Laughter of Carthage - Byzantium Endures - London Peculiar and Other Nonfiction
                      Doctor Who: The Coming of the Terraphiles - Kizuna: Fiction for Japan - Modem Times 2.0 - The Sunday Books - The Sundered Worlds


                      Pre-order or Buy my latest titles in the USA:
                      The Laughter of Carthage - Byzantium Endures - London Peculiar and Other Nonfiction - The Sunday Books - Doctor Who: The Coming of the Terraphiles
                      Kizuna: Fiction for Japan - The Sundered Worlds - The Winds of Limbo - Modem Times 2.0 - Elric: Swords and Roses

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Michael Moorcock
                        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. There are a lot more now!
                        Mike, I certainly noticed a 'tone' to The Black Corridor that seemed quite different (more 'adult') to any of your previous books which I've been reading chronologically, (although Behold the Man comes close to it as well). I wasn't sure whether that was Hilary's contribution showing through or a change in your own style from what you'd been writing previously. It seems to me that we can see the seeds of a style you'll go on to develop in your 'literary' novels like Byzantium Endures and The Brothel in Rosenstrasse.

                        I'm still wondering about the


                        Still interested to hear other people's thoughts on this book.
                        Last edited by Rothgo; 10-16-2012, 04:49 AM. Reason: Added spoilers
                        _"For an eternity Allard was alone in an icy limbo where all the colours were bright and sharp and comfortless.
                        _For another eternity Allard swam through seas without end, all green and cool and deep, where distorted creatures drifted, sometimes attacking him.
                        _And then, at last, he had reached the real world – the world he had created, where he was God and could create or destroy whatever he wished.
                        _He was supremely powerful. He told planets to destroy themselves, and they did. He created suns. Beautiful women flocked to be his. Of all men, he was the mightiest. Of all gods, he was the greatest."

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Dear all,

                          Let me deal with the bibliographic details first. There, I'm on firmer ground.

                          The first edition of 'The Black Corridor' (Ace p/b) got its typographical art (as Mike says, "words create a pattern of other letters forming other words") correct, but had the book's opening passages cut.

                          The first British edition (Mayflower p/b) 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 h/c and the omnibus combining 'T.B.C.' with [bizarrely] 'The Adventures Of Una Persson And Catherine Cornelius' [sic]).

                          For the Orion and, particuarly, White Wolf omnibus editions of 'Sailing To The Future' (incl. 'T.B.C.'), every effort was made to perfect both the opening and the typographical art.

                          With regard to interpretation of the book, I think Mike's perfectly allowed NOT to be drawn on its meaning. It's one book, possibly more than any other of his, which is open completely to the interpretation of each reader. I've read it several times, and each time seem to see different layers of interpretation within it. I was quite young when I first read it, and took it completely literally, gleaning no underlying metaphor whatsoever. (In that, I think Mike's right in saying that it was aimed deliberately at an older readership.) Subsequent readings have led me to believe that very little in 'T.B.C.' can be taken at face value, even the Earth-bound segments. They're obviously coloured by (Cornelius?) Ryan's deranged recollections. I think there's little doubting that he's become unhinged, but


                          Best,


                          John.
                          Last edited by Rothgo; 10-16-2012, 04:50 AM. Reason: added spoiler

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Thanks - as always - for the bibliopgraphical info, John. I've updated the Wikipedia article to reflect some of that additional information. Can I check, was TBC first published by Ace and that the Mayflower edition post-dates it's US appearence? (I'm guessing so if Mike wrote it for the 'Ace Specials'.)

                            And as much as one may like to get the author's definitive version of their work, Mike's always said that whatever meaning a reader gets out of his books is the right one, so it was more other people's impression I was seeking.

                            Ryan is clearly (in some ways) an unreliable 'narrator', especially during his psychotic episodes, which gives the novel its multi-layered interpretations. While reading the book, I did wonder whether Munich 15040 actually existed, or whether the Hope Dempsey would drift forever in the void of space. Also, when the computer informs Ryan that...



                            And having read TBC fast on the heels of Behold the Man, the fact you have 1 'saviour' and 12 frozen 'disciples' may or may not have significance.

                            Searching on the web I found this précis on www.feministsf.org:

                            (a satire of the British government, current politics, and sexism)
                            I suppose that refers to the Earth scenes and the way xenophobia was used by political leaders (which I guess still - sadly - connections with us today, some 3 years after the time of TBC).
                            _"For an eternity Allard was alone in an icy limbo where all the colours were bright and sharp and comfortless.
                            _For another eternity Allard swam through seas without end, all green and cool and deep, where distorted creatures drifted, sometimes attacking him.
                            _And then, at last, he had reached the real world – the world he had created, where he was God and could create or destroy whatever he wished.
                            _He was supremely powerful. He told planets to destroy themselves, and they did. He created suns. Beautiful women flocked to be his. Of all men, he was the mightiest. Of all gods, he was the greatest."

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Dear all,

                              I can't confirm which of them actually commissioned 'The Black Corridor', but the Ace p/b came out in October, and the Mayflower p/b in December, 1969.

                              Best,


                              John.

                              Comment

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