(Gianni Benvenuti’s back cover art detail for the 1978 edition of View from Another Shore (1973), ed. Franz Rottensteiner)
A Vintage Foreign SF Acquisitions Post!
Over the last few weeks, I’ve acquired three anthologies that gather vintage SF in translation from Japan to Denmark. I’ve also included in this post a single author collection of Czech 50s/60s science fiction. In addition to my initial thoughts, I’ve noted the non-English language countries covered in each volume. This is an incredibly exciting group of books as I know little to nothing about the individual authors and their works and can’t wait to explore….
1. Fantastic ruined city cover with exploring spaceman…. At first glance, this collection contains a substantial number of fantasy stories–I wish I knew which ones were SF!
Countries: Denmark and Belgium (specifically, the Dutch-speaking regions).
2. Maxim Jakubowski’s anthology deliberately gathers stories from a range of countries (many are English-speaking) including a few famous English-speaking authors (Brian W. Aldiss, Michael Moorcock, Cherry Wilder, John Sladek, etc.). In a humorous touch, he includes one of his own stories under the name Adam Barnett-Foster from the country of San Serriffe. As I knew immediately that this wasn’t a real country, a quick Wikipedia search reveals it was a fictional island nation created by Britain’s Guardian for April Fools’ Day 1977!
(Real) Countries: Romania, West Germany, France, USSR, The Netherlands, Japan, Spain, Sweden, Poland.
3. Entirely non-English language European SF in translation… I enjoyed the humorous cover.
Countries: Poland, France, Denmark, West Germany, Czechoslovakia, Romania, Italy, USSR.
4. One of the few non-Soviet single-language vintage SF collections I’ve encountered–Josef Nesvadba, Czechoslovakia (modern day Czech Republic). Of the four included in the collection, Nesvadba’s collection beckons most seductively.
All scans are of my personal copies (click to enlarge).
As always, thoughts and comments are appreciated.
1. New Worlds from the Lowlands: Fantasy and Science Fiction of Dutch and Flemish Writers, ed. Manuel Van Loggem (1982)
(A. C. Willink’s cover for the 1st edition)
From the back cover: “New Worlds from the Lowlands is a comprehensive anthology of contemporary Fantasy and Science Fiction in the Netherlands and Flanders. It covers the whole field of modern imaginative writing and visionary fiction with up-to-date fairy tales, horror stories, tales of ghosts, weird apparitions, doubles and devils, witches and were wolves, and unadulterated Science Fiction: Tales of Times to Come.
They have been chosen for their literary values, merits of style, originality in the treatment of an interesting theme and an ending with a surprising twist which enhances the impact of the story by the agreeable shock of the unexpected.”
Contents: R. Blijstra’s “Otze Otzinga’s Planetarium” (1962), Belcamp’s “The Kruutntonne Plan” (1947), Louis Paul Boon’s “The Sad Blackbird” (1957), Simon Carmiggelt’s “Ouija Board” (1948), Carl Lans’ “The Aegean Sea” (1970), Manuel van Loggem’s “Fancyfuck” (1974), Humberto Lambo’s “Mr. Davidson’s Son” (1972), Ef Leonard’s “Landing” (1971), Olga Rodenko’s “Kept Waiting” (1976), Jan Wolkers’ “Las Quarter” (1963), Wim Burkunk’s “New Herring” (1971), Mart Olthuis’ “‘Hold My Hand,’ Said the Cat'” (1966), Harry Mulisch’s “The Crown Prince” (1955), Hugo Raes’ “A Sunrise” (1976), Ward Ruyslink’s “The Snow Shower” (1966), Hugo Claus’ “The Birthday Present” (1954), Frank Herzen’s “And Sundays a Piece of Meat” (1968), Kees Simhoffer’s “Death’s Hat” (1978), Hugo Brandt Corstius’ “A Little Key” (1966), Anton Quintana’s “Reflection” (1973), Gerben Hellinga’s “King” (1968). Paul van Herck’s “Rain” (1965), Jacques Hamelink’s “Vissions of the City of Glamorrhee” (1974), Bob van der Goen’s “Sound” (1972), Ton van Reen’s “Stars and Stripes” (1977), Peter Cuijpers’ “Hands Washed in Innocence” (1972), Eddy C. Bertin’s “Something Ending” (1971), Julien C. Raasveld’s “Braggin’ Harry” (1972), Jaap Verduyn’s “Timetravel Is Harder Than You Think” (1972), Patrick Conrad’s “Allegria! Allegria!” (1972), Karel sandor’s “Of the Blessing Which Would Come Straight from Heaven” (1975), Bob Van Laehoven’s “Unlucky Fellow” (1977)
2. Twenty Houses of the Zodiac, ed. Maxim Jakubowski (1979)
(Tim White’s cover for the 1st edition)
From the back cover: “Science fiction is universal. Some of the most exciting and significant of today’s science fiction is written in languages other than English. Here is a unique opportunity to discover in translation the world of talented writers from Europe, Asia, America and Australasia.
All of the stories in TWENTY HOUSES OF THE ZODIAC have been written, and selected by Mazim Jakubowski, himself a writer with an international reputation.
Fantasy and fable, other worlds and other times, humour and seriousness, TWENTY HOUSES OF THE ZODIAC offers a cross-section of science fiction for today–and tomorrow.”
Contents: Brian W. Aldiss’ “Oh, For a Closer Brush with God” (variant tile: “Bill Carter Takes Over”) (1979), Ion Hobana’s “A Kind of Space” (1974), Cherry Wilder’s “Dealers of Light and Darkness” (1979), Gerd Maximovič “A Hole in Time” (1976), Élisabeth Vonarburg’s “High Tide” (1978), Robert Sheckley’s “I Can Teleport Myself Anywhere” (1979), “Philippe Curval’s “Heavier Than Sleep” (1979), Maxim Jakubowski’s (as Adam Barnett-Foster) An Avocado Pear for Dolores, Arkady and Boris Strugatsky’s “The Gigantic Fluctuation (1962), J. G. Ballard’s Zodiac 2000 (1978), Hugo Raes’ “A Sunrise” (1976), Shin’Ichi Hoshi’s “Love Keys” (1958), Bob Shaw’s “The Cottage of Eternity” (1979), Daniel Walther’s “Ice Two” (1979), John Sladek’s “The Brass Monkey” (1979), Teresa Inglés’ “The Alabaster Garden” (1977), Maxim Jakubowski’s “Idiosyncrasies” (1979), Sam J. Lundwall’s “Take Me Down the River” (1979), Stanislaw Lem’s “The White Death” (1964), Michael Moorcock’s “Crossing into Cambodia” (1979).
3. View from Another Shore, ed. Franz Rottensteiner (1973)
(Gianni Benvenuti’s cover for the 1978 edition)
From the back cover: “TOGETHER FOR THE FIRST TIME ON ANY PLANET! Poland’s Stanislaw Lem, France’s Gerard Klein, Denmark’s Sven Madsen, Italy’s Lino Aldani.
An Amazing collection of cosmic vision from eleven ultra-national [
?!? — weird word choice] explorers on the outer edges of the universe. Boldly terrifying, strangely beautiful, the VIEW FROM ANOTHER SHORE is a unique experience in alien and unfamiliar lands!”
Contents: Stanislaw Lem’s “In Hot Pursuit of Happiness” (1971), Gérard Klein’s “The valley of Echoes” (1959), Jean-Pierre Andrevon’s “Observation of Quadragnes” (1971), Svend Åge Madsen’s “The Good Ring” (1970), Herbert W. Franke’s “Slum” (1970), Josef Nesvadba’s “Captain Nemo’s Last Adventure” (1960), Adrian Rogoz’s “The Altar of the Random Gods” (1970), Lino Aldani’s “Good Night Sophie” (1963), Sever Gansovski’s “The Proving Ground” (1966), Vsevolod Ivanov’s “Sisyphus, the Son of Aeolus” (1964), Vadim Shefner’s “A Modest Genius” (1963)
4. The Lost Face: Best Science Fiction from Czechoslovakia, Josef Nesvadba (variant 1970 title: In the Footsteps of the Abominable Snowman) (1964, trans. 1970, 1971)
(Uncredited cover for the 1971 edition)
From the inside flap: “This outstanding collection of eight science fiction stories was written by the Czechoslovakia’s leading exponent of the genre, Dr. Josef Nesvadba, whose tales have never before been made available to American readers. The stories, which combine in intriguing proportions elements of science fiction and fantasy, will be relished in their own right, and the fact that they are from a country whose science fiction is known to few Western readers should doubly enhance their appeal.”
Contents: “The Death of an Apeman” (1958), “Expedition in the Opposite Direction” (1962), “The Trial Nobody Ever Heard Of” (1958), “The Lost Face” (1960), “The Chemical Formula of Destiny” (1960), “Inventor of His Own Undoing” (1960), “Doctor Moreau’s Other Island” (1962), “In the Footsteps of the Abominable Snowman” (1960)
27 thoughts on “Updates: Recent Science Fiction Acquisitions No. CC “Foreign Vintage SF Edition” (Dutch SF Anthology + World SF Anthology + Non-English Language European SF Anthology + and a Czech Collection)”
Some interesting stories and covers here. I really like the covers for New Worlds and View. I know i read “Captain Nemo’s Last Adventure” and liked it but the story details are vague. I have read some of Gérard Klein’s novels and quite liked Starmaster’s Gambit. But there are a lot of stories I have not heard of and nationalities whose science fiction I have not read. I am sure you will have great fun.
I haven’t read any of Klein’s novels or stories. The only non-English language author I’ve read in these volumes other than Stanislaw Lem is Eddy C. Bertin. And I was not the biggest fan….
“Timestorm” (1971): https://sciencefictionruminations.com/2018/05/20/book-review-the-1972-annual-worlds-best-sf-ed-donald-a-wollheim-1972/
“The City, Dying” (1968: https://sciencefictionruminations.com/2017/03/14/book-review-new-writings-in-sf-9-ed-john-carnell-1972-harrison-coney-sellings-king-et-al/
All of those sound interesting, but I think coverwise I prefer the first!
Me too! I’m a sucker for collapsing cities, wandering spacemen, the implication that this might be a future Earth in ruins…..
That Lowlands collection has quite a few big ‘non-genre’ literary names, I’m surprised they wrote things that could be called fantasy or sf.
Do you have an example? I could always take a peek! (as I mentioned in the post, I wish I knew which ones were “clearly” in the SF vein as I have little interest in reading ghost stories or other types of “fantasy” this anthology contains).
The Louis Paul Boon story is a contemporary fairytale. I’m pretty sure the Simon Carmiggelt one is a light ghost story. My guess is the Jan Wolkers’ one is non-SF too. The Harry Mulish one is just a grotesque, not SF at all, not even fantasy. The Hugo Raes included definitely has SF-elements. The Ward Ruyslink is about how a few children experience a nuclear disaster, but I’d hardly classify it as SF. It would surprise me if Hugo Claus had written a SF-story.
Thank you. All the authors other than Eddy C. Bertin are completely unknown to me — his stories appeared in quite a few New Wave-esque SF collections in translation in the 70s.
I did read a more “sf” ghost story recently — and enjoyed it! — > Terry Carr’s “They Live on Levels.” I usually avoid ghost stories like the plague…
Maybe also of interest is the fact that all the other authors (the ones I didn’t list) today are completely unknown/forgotten in the Dutch/Flemish literary establishment, it would be hard/impossible to track work of any of them down in regular libraries or book shops.
(Except maybe for Patrick Conrad who is mainly a poet, but again, nearly unknown; and for Bob Van Laerhoven, who’s a thriller author with minor international succes. I’ve just noticed on the German Wikipedia of all places that his early work could be considered scifi.)
Sounds like you need to track down the collection as well! I’d love you see your review of it.
For a true chauvinistic review, I should track down all the originals I guess, and my days in library archives are over, luckily.
Well, if you want any of the individual stories let me know, I can send a selective PDF.
The editor (who was also a SF author), Manuel van Loggem, is known for publishing the first Dutch SF magazine — Morgen (1971-1975)
I’m keen to read ‘The Great Fluctuation’ by the Strugatsky brothers. Apparently it’s included in the English trans of Space Apprentice, which I have, but I’ll have to wait until I get back home from o/s to check. One of the few Strugatsky’s in English I haven’t read…
As I mentioned in my response to Andrew, the primary reason I’ve read so little of the Strugatsky brothers novels/collections is due to their price (I’ve read The Ugly Swans, and a few other stories here and there).
I was lucky in this regard. I bought up a stack of the old Macmillan editions around 2011. They seemed to be a lot cheaper then. The good news is that some of the old trans, plus some new trans of hitherto untranslated works as well as new trans of older works are now appearing in cheap paperback form.
I have a bunch as well — but, again, not that many Strugatsky volumes….
I have to add The Lost Face and New Worlds etc to my I want to acquire list, the latter just for the cover. No matter how much I search the internet I know you’ll always find more intriguing books in some esoteric eddy and that’s the main reason I keep returning to your site.
I read Rottensteiner’s anthology last year and thought it was very good. I wasn’t impressed with Jakubowski’s Traveling Through Epsilon anthology other than Delta and The Gunboat Dread. That made look into French SF writers after asking myself, besides Verne, Boulle, Klein and Barbet, can I name any others? No, I ended up finding and reading Vercors’ Borderline with much enjoyment.
As for other non English SF authors, both Voinovich’s Moscow 2042 and Bilenkin’s collection The Uncertainty Principle were both superior to what I’ve read by the Strugatsky brothers. Seems to me they’re overrated…
One collection I’ve just been lent might be of interest to you: H. Bruce Franklin’s Countdown to Midnight (DAW #608). Polish author Kawalec’s I Kill Myself and Quebecois Yves Theriault’s The South Wind are memorable.
Thank you for the kind words — they are always appreciated. Definitely the reason I keep on blogging…..
I have Countdown to Midnight, but I had forgotten the non-English language stories it contained! I am suddenly re-intrigued by the collection and might read it soon. And also an English-lang author I’ve never head of — Chandler Davis (who apparently lost his job as he refused to testify before HUAC!).
As for the Strugatsky brothers, I’ve enjoyed the few I’ve read — the price of their novels and collections prevents me from acquiring more.
Hey Andrew, I’d be interested to hear why you believe the Strugatsky’s are overrated, and which works of theirs induced this belief. I’m a big fan of the Strugatsky’s, though I haven’t read all of their work available in English (for instance, Ugly Swans mentioned by Joachim). But I have read most of the English trans available, and find that their work, particularly its literary quality, changes over time. For instance, their more straightforward early sf gives way to much more interesting, reflective and critical writing in later works, vis-a-vis contemporary Soviet political and social life (for instance, in Hard to be a God and Roadside Picnic). I have found that translation quality can affect a reading. For instance, the first trans of Far Rainbow is terrible, and would be enough to put anyone off of their work for good, which would be a shame because it is one of their better works.
I read The Time Wanderers first, the St. Martin’s Press pb edition, and when I finished it I had the same feeling I had when I watched Shyamalan’s Signs— there wasn’t much new here to justify rave reviews (I note I’ve been reading SF since 1963). I then bought the Masterworks edition of Roadside Picnic (new translation by Bormashenko) with great expectations…and found it blase, like Clarke’s Rendezvous with Rama, in that it inched along only to fizzle at the end. I have since read the New Soviet Science Fiction anthology edited by Sturgeon and Bilenkin’s The Uncertainty Principles with much more enjoyment, as well as Voinovich’s Moscow 2042, that I found very funny. Prior to that I’d read Zamyatin’s We, too. Those are what I compare the Strugatskys to and although none of them were as highly hyped as the Strugatsky brothers, they all were better in my opinion, humble or otherwise. I’m not one to agree with everyone else when I have a different opinion, and this is the case here. I hope have satisfied your curiosity?
Thanks for the reply. I’m certainly not trying to convince you that your assessment is wrong, in the grand scheme of things. I would say that you had the misfortune to read the Time Wanderers first. It’s the last of the Maxim Kammerer stories, and certainly not the best–unimpressive, as you say. I would recommend the first of the Kammerer stories, ‘Prisoners of Power’–a much better work in my opinion. It also helps to orient the Kammerer sequence as the Strugatsky’s fictional critique of Soviet power of the day. The Kammerer stories are also embedded in the larger Noon Universe sequence of stories that date back to the brothers’ first stories. I would recommend the early short stories published as ‘Noon: 22nd Century’ in English, and the novels Far Rainbow and Hard to be a God as excellent examples of their work. I haven’t read any Bilenkin or Voinovich. I have read Zamyatin’s We–twice no less–and though I enjoyed it as a critique of the early Soviet period, and as a model for later dystopian works like 1984, I found it turgid–unimpressive even! But then, as we both know, there is no accounting for taste.
Assessing science fiction is the same as that for wine. I like heavy bodied reds with multiple dark fruits while yours may be medium bodied Pinot Noirs with cherry and raspberries. We both agree that we like wine with long smooth finishes, and SF, but I think the case here is that our preferences are for different flavors.
I am constantly reminded that we are all at the mercy of the translators. A bad translator can trash a great story. I remember hearing that, for instance, Jules Verne was horribly treated by a hack translator. I remember truly liking the Damon Knight anthology “Thirteen French Science-Fiction Stories”. All in all, I’m looking forward to any remarks about these anthologies that you do in the future.
About the covers. Best: “Twenty Houses of the Zodiac”. Very meditative. Least liked: “The Lost Face”. No comment, but it’s forgettable.
Which Jules Verne translation?
I know Mysterious Island, which always been my favorite Verne (I was obsessed as a child with creating a society on an island), was translated originally as “unabridged” but it was actually abridged. It was recently rereleased with the cut sections restored. Verne meant the novel to be a commentary on post-Civil War US — but, a lot of the commentary was removed in the original translation.
Well, I’m sixty, so anything I grew up with. At least, there are numerous articles on the internet condemning them. Not speaking French, I can only take these critics words for them. Couldn’t get into Mysterious Island, but looking at that book now, I can see that the type was designed not to be read. A Journey to the Earth to the Moon and its sequel were the ones I read, and A Journey to the Center of the Earth was read several times. Fred Pohl had one of his stories translated into Chinese, he then had it translated back into English. He printed both in one of his collections. Don’t ask for anymore information, it was over thirty years ago. But it was interesting to see what a translator can do to a story.