Friday, December 03, 2021


From the archives: Randy Johnson

FFB: Black Is The Color – John Brunner

Brunner was an early find, third I believe, behind Heinlein and Norton. The early stuff was mostly from the Ace Doubles. Black Is The Color is a little bit different. From 1969, part spy novel, it has a plot line that would fit into things happening today.

Mark Hanwell, a disillusioned young man returns home to London after six months in Spain where he’d met and worked for The Big Famous Writer he only ever refers to as Hairy Harry. It didn’t take long for him to realize his hero had feet of clay, making the bulk of his money selling pornography and weed. In fact, the last four pieces of writing under his name had been written by Mark.

Home, he goes looking for a woman who’d sent him a few letters early on, then stopped. A singer, he traced the bank d she’d been with falling into as different a world as he’d ever run into.

Sadism was part of it, voodoo, a plan to start a race war in England, Mark finds his work and the man she’d taken up with, a South Africaner.

I’d never heard of this book before I came across it. Good stuff



George said...

I've been a John Brunner fan since the early 1960s. Brunner wrote some classic SF novels like STAND ON ZANZIBAR and THE JAGGED ORBIT. He tried to write in other genres. BLACK IS THE COLOR is one such attempt. Brunner wrote a massive historical novel, THE GREAT STEAMBOAT RACE, that he thought might be a "break-through" novel...but it flopped.

Todd Mason said...

He did write in other fields, but, as you note, STEAMBOAT didn't do good business...and his fights with US publishers over their clumsy mishandling of his work (most famously turning two characters in his novel THE SHOCKWAVE RIDER into one) didn't help with that source of income, either. It was rougher going than it should have been, at the end. But isn't it almost always.

Todd Mason said...

Bad copy-editing, btw, was how the two characters were "fused"...he had other less thorough examples of haphazard, at best, copy-editing in his US editions throughout the '70s. "We're supposed to ask him? Why, for space junk?"

Steve A Oerkfitz said...

Brunner was one of my favorite writers back in the 60's and 70's. He was dismissed by the New Wave movement in England unfairly.

Jerry House said...

A major talent now virtually forgotten. It should be noted that UK publishers did him almost as much dirt as the US publishers.