Sailing to Utopia Paperback
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
The Ice Schooner: A world that worships ice while in the midst of an Ice Age and refuses to believe that the ice will ever go away. Okay, I'll buy it. This is a good start, though compared to the other three it pales in comparsion.
The Black Corridor: I loved this one. It seems simple enough in the beginning, you know, a guy who is travelling while the others are in hibernation. But the flashbacks reveal something else, and the dreams sequences make the book worth reading. It gets really weird toward the end, but it doesn't matter. A classic.
The Distant Suns: The most "normal" science-fiction of the trio, but that doesn't matter, because Jerry Cornelius finally appears! All right! The best of the Eternal Champions in an interesting story about a far away planet with people not unlike themselves. Good, but nothing compared to the Jerry Cornelius quartet (Cure for Caner, Final Programme, English Assassin, and The Condition of Muzak). Hey, White Wolf, why don't you publish these, either as something separate or an addition to the Eternal Champion series! Anybody listening?
Flux: Moorcock's short stories tend to inhabit a new catagory of strange, and this is no exception. This time another Von Bek (Max) travels the time stream and discovers some very disquieting things. Ends things on an odd note, but there's nothing wrong with that.
Halfway through the series now, and eagerly awaiting Kane of Old Mars
The Ice Schooner depicts a future Ice Age. A small civilization is established on the ice fields, cities are built into crevasses, and trades and whalers ply the frozen oceans in their ice ships. Konrad Arflane, a typically moody and grim Moorcock hero, undertakes a quest to New York to discover why the ice is melting and his civilization possibly coming to an end. A rare example of pure SF from Moorcock; well told and atmospheric, with a perhaps too hasty resolution.
The Black Corridor, written with Moorcock's then-wife Hilary Bailey, reads more like a Robert Silverberg novel than Moorcock piece. A group of space travelers in cryogenic freeze are fleeing an Earth where xenophobia and war are destroying civilization. One man remains awake to operate the spaceship, and reflects on his final years on Earth, as the world crumbles around him. This is one of Moorcock's best works, taut, suspenseful, evocative, and horrifying. I've read this one three times since it originally appeared in 1969, and it still has an impact... and I'm not sure I completely understand it.
The Distant Suns, a collaboration with British artist and author James Cawthorn, appears in this volume for the first time in the U.S. Again, civilization is crumbling and a trio of space explorers set out to find an answer. (The characters are Jerry, Frank, and Catherine Cornelius, but names aside, they have no apparent connection to the Cornelius characters of Moorcock's other stories.) Written in a hyperventilating pulp style, the purpose here is perhaps to satirize pulp SF clichés, but the authors mimic the purple prose of the 40s too closely for my taste, and I quickly tired of this one, skimming through the last hundred pages to get a general idea of the plot. This ranks as one of Moorcock's misses for me... or perhaps I just missed the point.
Flux, a short story written with Barrington J. Bayley, describes a near future Europe, again facing imminent destruction, which sends an operative into the future to discover a solution. Anyone familiar with Bayley's work will not be surprised to find this story brimming over with madcap ideas. While not as polished as Bayley's later writings (to say nothing of Moorcock's) this is an enjoyable and thought-provoking tale.
Recommended for anyone who enjoys Moorcocks' early SF and fantasy works.
Sailing to Utopia starts off quietly enough, unlike several others in the series. Like a classical composition, Moorcock slowly heightens the mood and ends with a crescendo. The Black Corridor is an especially haunting tale that will stick with the reader.
Although it is quite different than many of his other works in The Eternal Champions series, it is a must read for fans and is highly recommended for others as it demonstrates the vast repertoire Moorcock possesses and will, hopefully, create a fan out of those who may not have been as familiar with the author before this work.