Updates: Recent Science Fiction Acquisitions No. CXLVII (Women of Wonder Anthology + Eklund + Watson + Franke)


(Inside illustration by Vincent Di Fate for the 1973 edition of The Orchid Cage (1961), Herbert W. Franke)

Part II of my SF acquisitions from Dawn Treader Books in Ann Arbor, MI– Part I.  In my attempt to acquire more foreign SF (still haven’t managed to read that much of it—but the mood will strike eventually), I found a nice copy with a wonderful interior illustration and cover by Vincent Di Fate of one of Herbert W. Franke’s novels.

Also, another Ian Watson novel—I’ve read the Jonah Kit (1975) but never got around to reviewing it as well as his collection (must read for fans of 70s SF) The Very Slow Time Machine (1979).  Jesse over at Speculiction raves about his other work [see Watson reviews via Jesse’s INDEX].

A famous anthology edited by Pamela Sargent—I’ve read a large portion of the stories in other formats, but, I’m glad to finally have a copy.

The risk purchase is a novel by Gordon Eklund—he published so many, and apparently was sort of popular, so, I might as well give one a shot.  I do not have high hopes.

As always, your comments/thoughts are welcome!

1.Women of Wonder, ed. Pamela Sargent (1974)

women of wonder

(Charles Shields’ cover for the 1974 edition)

From the back cover: “WOMEN OF WONDER.  These twelve first-class stories by women writers explore changing sex roles in the time-honored male preserve of science fiction.” [story list — here if you are curious].

2. The Gardens of Delight, Ian Watson (1980)


(Hieronymus Bosch’s cover for the 1982 edition)

From the back cover: “TRAPPED IN EDEN!  The Starship Schiaparelli—journeying to a distant mysterious planet in search of a colony founded by an earlier ship—was suddenly immobilized by a powerful unseen force and forced down upon a paradisiacal landscape, strange yet strangely familiar. Only one among the Schiaparelli’s crew—psychologist Sean Athlone—realizes that its luxurious fruits, its colorful birds, its naked celebrating people are a replica of one of Earth’s masterpieces—The Garden of Earthly Delights.  Who created it?  And why? And where is the leader of this enchanted group—the enigmatic Knossos?  Now Athlone and two women of his crew must search this paradise for its residing genius—and with Heaven near at hand, can Hell be far behind?”

3. The Orchid Cage, Herbert W. Franke (1961, English trans., 1973)


(Vincent Di Fate’s cover for the 1973 edition)

From the back cover: “On a distant planet, not too different from Earth, there stands a mechanized city with no visible inhabitants.  Obviously of a highly developed civilization, the question is who built it, where are they, and what can humans learn from them?  Two teams of explorers enter into a competition to find the answers.  There are no holds barred—almost anything goes to win the contest.  But the city is capable of meeting trickery with trickery, violence with violence—and murder with justice.

Such is the premise of THE ORCHID CAGE—one of the most discussed science fiction novels of modern Europe, translated into many languages, and now first brought to you in English.  Of its author, a leading SF expert states: “The impact of his work is very similar to that of Philip K. Dick, with the difference that Franke’s books are firmly based on science.”

4. The Eclipse of Dawn, Gordon Eklund (1971)


(Diane and Leo Dillon’s cover for the 1971 edition)

From the back cover: “THE JUPITER PLATFORM.  If you think political campaigns are getting stranger and stranger, consider the Presidential campaign of 1988:  When the United States has virtually collapsed after civil war and a foreign embargo;  When Washington D.C. lies in ruins and the White House is in California; And when Robert Colonby, Presidential candidate, promises to rebuild the nation with help from an awesome, godlike race of beings on Jupiter.

THE ECLIPSE OF DAWN is an inventive, fast-paced novel about this startling campaign… a behind-the-scenes look at one of our possible futures.”

39 thoughts on “Updates: Recent Science Fiction Acquisitions No. CXLVII (Women of Wonder Anthology + Eklund + Watson + Franke)

  1. Watson’s “Alien Embassy” is quite a good novel,but found “The Martian Inca” to be of dull quality.I couldn’t finish “The Jonah Kit”,which I thought was bland in tone and didn’t match the intensity of it’s concepts.That Bosch cover is excellent though,and reminds me of your recent post of Surrealist art on book covers.

    I’ve only read the novella version of Wilheim’s “Where Late the Sweet Birds Sang”.It didn’t leave much impression on me,which is probably why I haven’t read more of her stuff,but probably will before very long.

    The Diane and Leo Dillion cover is excellent,very modernist I should think.They’re known for their brilliance though.

      • “The Embedding” is probably one of his best novels,if not his best,that was one of two novels chosen by David Pringle for his “Science Fiction The 100 Best Novels,I don’t know.

        Yes,they were radical.It’s not surprising they were chosen to do the cover of “Dangerous Visions”,among others.

          • Is it really that complicated and dense? I had similar feelings about “The Jonah Kit”,but for what it was worth,I couldn’t be bothered to finish it at the length it was.

            • No, it is not. For some reason I couldn’t concentrate on it — and wanted to read something else. I am very possessed by moods when it comes to reading! I set things back on the shelf over and over again before I find what I want to read.

            • That seems a shame if it’s a really good book.I feel it’s the one I should go after by him now,if any.I only managed to read a few pages of Gene Wolfe’s “The Fifth Head of Cerebus” the first time I started it,but when I went back to it again some time later,I found it very easy to read.

            • Hahaha, well, I do it even for crap books so — again, my way of choosing a book or how many times I sit down to read it but decide to read something else says little about the actual book.

  2. I’ve read that Franke book – in that edition too. I found it uninteresting, and not particularly fun to read. Maybe a translation barrier, maybe not. It’s hard to see how it could be compared to Dick (other than A Maze of Death); more like an episode of Star Trek (TOS).

    • I doubt it evokes the surreal dread that PKD does in that particular novel (A Maze of Death is one of my favorite of PKD’s novels)…. but, we shall see! It’s really short at least.

  3. Hi

    I like the looks of the Franke. John Clute had nice things to say about Franke in his Science Fiction The Illustrated Encyclopedia so I have wanted to read him. This week I was lucky enough to find Franke’s The Mind Net with a cool Kelly Freas cover which I am looking forward to. I will be interested to hear how you like The Orchid Cage.

    All the Best

    • I absolutely LOVE that Illustrated Encyclopedia of Clute’s. You can tell it’s a real love affair. It’s the reason I started delving so deeply into all these ‘old’ SF writers. Unfortunately – for me at least – Franke didn’t live up to Clute’s acclaim.

      • The original paper editions of Encyclopedia of Science Fiction and the Encyclopedia of Fantasy, both of which Clute co-edited, are rarely out of my sight. Especially when I need them the most. And thankfully, they’re both being updated regularly online, too.

  4. Muchos gracias for the shout out! For sure I am on the Ian-Watson-is-underrated-bandwagon. He is one of several British sf writers that have been overshadowed by more mainstream writers in time, but whose material has held its own much stronger.

    Have you read any of his recent short stories, say from the past five or ten years? Some are very bizarre. “Faith Without Teeth,” for example, from Ian Whates’ Solaris Rising sf anthology series, is nutters on the surface while beneath some strong political commentary is apparent. I guess I mean to say he remains viable to this day.

    • If I’d only grown up in England and not Canada, I’d probably know the works of the older mid-20th century British SF writers better than I do, since I’d have better access to their stuff in the bookstores and at the libarary. Which is a shame, because I think most of them are cool.

      • Well you could certainly expand your knowledge now! Thankfully this hobby is on the cheap side as they rarely cost more than a few dollars online and are often cheaper at yard sales etc.

        • I’m sure looking to expand my collection once I save up enough money to buy online more regularly, and I’ll certainly look for Ian Watson’s stuff in the future. Since Abebooks has booksellers affiliated with it all over the world, including the British Isles, I can easily track down any book I want to read and use in a way I never could before the Internet came along.

    • Jesse: No problem! I have only read the Jonas Kit (I never reviewed it) and his first collection A Very Slow Time Machine (1979). He is definitely one of the authors whose work I will read when/if I eventually explore the 1980s…

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