The Distant Suns

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A Cornelius novel by Michael Moorcock, co-written with Philp James and illustrated by James Cawthorn, originally serialized, in eighteen instalments, in the Bombay-based The Illustrated Weekly of India between June and November 1969 before being re-published for the English market by Unicorn Books in 1975.

"Philip James" is a pseudonym for James Cawthorn, who took over the writing of the serial when Moorcock fell ill.

Publishing History (India)

  • The Illustrated Weekly of India, Bombay, 29th June 1969 - 2nd November 1969
Part 1: 29/06/1969; Part 2: 06/07/1969; Part 3: 13/07/1969; Part 4: 20/07/1969; Part 5: 27/07/1969; Part 6: 03/08/1969; Part 7: 10/08/1969;
Part 8: 17/08/1969; Part 9: 24/08/1969; Part 10: 31/08/1969; Part 11: 07/09/1969; Part 12: 14/09/1969; Part 13: 21/09/1969; Part 14: 28/09/1969;
Part 15: 05/10/1969; Part 16: 12/10/1969; Part 17: 26/10/1969; Part 18: 02/11/1969.

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Publishing History (UK)

  • Oversized softcover, Unicorn, 48pp., ISBN: 0-85659-021-5, Feb 1975, Cover by James Cawthorn
  • B Format Paperback, NEL, 192pp., ISBN: 0-450-50104-3, 1 Aug 1989
  • ebook, SF Gateway, 180pp., ISBN: 978-0575074088, 11 Apr 2013

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Omnibus Publication

Publishing History (US)

  • Hardback, Fantastic Books, 138pp., ISBN: 978-1617200250, May 2010
  • Paperback, Fantastic Books, 138pp., ISBN: 978-1617200502, May 2010

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Omnibus Publication

Jerry Cornelius and the Black Corridor

At the time that the London editor of the IWoI approached Moorcock for a story that would both develop an Indian audience for sf and address a reticence in some quarters in India for technology, Moorcock was also about to commence work on a novel then called The Distant Suns but which was eventually published as The Black Corridor. Initially he intended to adapt the 'main' project for the IWoI - and indeed some of early parts of The Distant Suns are very similar (if not identical) to The Black Corridor - but in the end Moorcock decided it would be better to start from scratch.[1] In the process, the new version of The Distant Suns became a Jerry Cornelius story - with a twist.

Unlike the later Cornelius novels the hero of The Distant Suns, Colonel Jerry Cornelius, is a conventional space-faring hero and the plot is straight-forward, certainly compared to Moorcock's latter experimental novels. As such The Distant Suns does not sit easily with the rest of the Cornelius canon and should therefore be regarded as a separate entity.

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 intact in the Millennium hardcover and trade paperback editions.

Mike Says

  • "I was asked to write The Distant Suns for the Illustrated Weekly of India in order at the time to make the Indian public aware of the benefits of science! It worked! It actually was part of a general effort in the sixties and seventies to get the Indian giant moving forward and Jim Cawthorn and I were very happy to be part of it."[2]
  • "I wrote a complete outline of the story and had done about half of it before James Cawthorn (as Philip James) agreed to take on the weekly episodes when I became ill. My own opinion is that Jim's contribution is rather better than mine."[3]

Notes

  1. cf. 'Introduction', The Distant Suns, New English Library, 1989
  2. http://www.multiverse.org/fora/showpost.php?p=104846&postcount=2
  3. 'Introduction', The Distant Suns, New English Library, 1989

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