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Sailing to Utopia
Michael Moorcock
White Wolf Books, 536 pages

Sailing to Utopia

Michael Moorcock
Born in London, UK, Moorcock became involved in SF early on. He edited Tarzan's Adventures at 17 and became the guiding hand behind the British SF Magazine New Worlds in 1964, a major influence in the development of "New Wave" SF. As a fantasist he's best known for the Elric saga, and for the World Fantasy Award winning novel, Gloriana. He's a multiple winner of the British Fantasy Award.

The New World's Fair
Tanelorn: The City Of Peace
Michael Moorcock Tribute Site
Another Tanelorn
Usenet - alt.books.moorcock
Elric of Melnibone
Elric of Melnibonč
Elric Saga

Past Feature Reviews
A review by Steven H Silver


I cut my teeth reading the fantasy novels of Michael Moorcock. My old editions of his works were getting a little worn, so I was glad when White Wolf announced a couple of years ago that they would be publishing nearly all his science fiction and fantasy in hardcover omnibus editions. The eighth book to be released, Sailing to Utopia, contains his novels The Ice Schooner, The Black Corridor and The Distant Suns, along with the short story "Flux".

Unlike the majority of the books in the series, the works which make up Sailing to Utopia don't really have an underlying theme or character to link them. In his introduction, Moorcock points out that three of the four works were written in collaboration. At best, the selections in Sailing to Utopia can be called minor Moorcock.

The Ice Schooner will probably be the most accessible to the vast majority of Moorcock's readers. Perhaps because of the pseudo-Medieval character of Konrad Arflane's world, he seems most like the Eternal Champion character who populates nearly all Moorcock's works. The only thing missing to make Arflane a full-fledged aspect of the Eternal Champion are the long, tedious passages naming his other incarnations. Nevertheless, The Ice Schooner is most reminiscent of the Hawkmoon books and the Erekosė books.

The Black Corridor and The Distant Suns are some of Moorcock's straight science fiction novels. The former deals with the spaceship Hope Dempsey, carrying thirteen passengers to settle on a new world. Only the pilot, Ryan, remains awake while the remaining passengers, many friends or relatives of Ryan, are in suspended animation. The novel is told as a series of flashbacks and hallucinations as Ryan deals with the loneliness of being the only conscious person on the Hope Dempsey. The Black Corridor presents Moorcock's New Worlds style of writing at its best.

In addition to being a straight SF novel, The Distant Suns is also a Jerry Cornelius novel. I'm afraid I've never been a fan of the Jerry Cornelius novels, most of which strike me as being pretentious, with plot and logic taking a back seat to a bad acid dream. Unfortunately, the pace and style of The Distant Suns, if not the characterizations, are reflective of the entire series, not as bad as many of the Cornelius books since Cornelius is extricated from his native Carnaby Street London, but not as readable as some.

Although originally about Max File, "Flux," the final short story in this omnibus, has been re-written slightly so the main character is a member of the recurring von Bek family, Moorcock's answer to the everyman of Medieval drama. Although this change does not particularly alter the story, it does permit Moorcock to fit it into the greater flow of his work.

Although uncredited, The Black Corridor was written with Hilary Bailey (Moorcock's ex-wife), The Distant Suns in conjunction with Jim Cawthorne, and "Flux" was co-written with Barrington Bayley. In the final analysis, The Ice Schooner, the only solo Moorcock work in the volume, is also the only fully enjoyable work in Sailing to Utopia. If you haven't read Moorcock, pick up some of the other books in this series before taking at look at Sailing to Utopia.

Copyright © 1997 by Steven H Silver

Steven H Silver is one of the founders and judges for the Sidewise Award for Alternate History. He sits on concoms for Windycon, Chicon 2000 and Clavius in 2001 and is co-chair of Picnicon 1998. Steven will be serving as the Programming Chairman for Chicon 2000. In addition to maintaining several bibliographies and the Harry Turtledove website, Steven is trying to get his short stories published and has recently finished his first novel. He lives at home with his wife and 3200 books. He is available for convention panels.

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