Updates: Recent Science Fiction Acquisitions No. CCXXVI (Philip K. Dick, Tanith Lee, Paul Park, Gordon Eklund, and Poul Anderson)

1. As I read the vast majority of Philip K. Dick’s novels pre-blog (i.e. pre-2010), many of the details have faded into a general morass of surreal fragments and paranoiac dreams. I know for certain Flow My Tears, the Policeman Said (1974) remains one of only a handful of unread works in his vast oeuvre.

This UK edition has a bizarre cover….

2. I thoroughly enjoyed Tanith Lee’s Don’t Bite the Sun (1976) and snatched another one of her early SF works—Day by Night (1980)…. the premise intrigues! A storyteller spins tales on a popular TV network that might not be stories at all…. but true accounts of the denizens from the other side of the planet.

3. A candidate for the worst cover of all time? The book by Gordon Eklund and Poul Anderson might not be much better. Certainly the risk purchase of the batch!

4. And finally, a riff on Brian Aldiss’ Helliconia formula? I can’t wait to read this one.

Let me know what books/covers intrigue you. Which have you read? Disliked? Enjoyed?


1. Flow My Tears, the Policeman Said, Philip K. Dick (1974)

(Richard Clifton-Dey’s cover for the 1976 edition)

From the back cover: “Jason Taverner, idol of thirty million TV viewers, wakes up one morning in a sleazy hotel bedroom and finds himself a complete unknown. And that’s just the start of his nightmare adventures in an American police state of the terrifying near future that makes 1984 look like the Age of Enlightenment…”

2. Day by Night, Tanith Lee (1980)

(Don Maitz’s cover for the 1st edition)

From the back cover: “The planet did not rotate. On one side eternal day, the sun shining down hotly from the center of the heavens. On the opposite side eternal night, the stars glowing cold in the black and airless sky.

Yet the planet had been colonized. In ages past civilization had dug into the rock of the darkside and had thrived. Aristocrats vied with aristocrats, and the poor, as ever, struggled to keep home and body together against the ever-encroaching cold surface.

To keep the lower classes happy, Vitra, the storyteller, spun romantic sagas on the popular network. She imagined a strange world on the sunside, inhabited by men and women enmeshed in crime and love, schemes and intrigues.

Vitra believed she was making this up. But was she? Was there really another civilization on the bright side and could it be that what she related was not fiction—but events which would inevitably send both worlds out of synch [sic] to mutual disaster?”

3. Inheritors of Earth, Godon Eklund and Poul Anderson (1974)

(Uncredited cover for the 1976 edition)

From the back cover: “To Alec Richmond, Sylvia Mencken seemed a mere mortal, while he was a Superior, one of the Inner Circle who knew things without being told and had conceptual powers that appeared magical to those who didn’t know.

But being a Superior had its own shortcomings. He’d started life as an Orphan and was permanently sterile. And, at any moment, he might lapse into the terrible madness that was the curse of so many Superiors.

Then there was the danger even Alec didn’t know about—the third form of humanity waiting… just waiting… for a chance to strike!”

4. Soldiers of Paradise, Paul Park (1987)

(Peter Elson’s cover for the 1989 edition)

From the back cover: “Enter a world where seasons last for generations, and the hope and curse of the future lies in the coming sugar rain. Where birth brands your flesh, and death leads you through the Nine Hells to paradise. Follow two men, renegades of the elite Starbridge ruling class, as they descend into the horrific lower depths of the phantasmagoric city of Charn. A prince and a doctor, two well-intentioned aristocrats sparking rage and revolution in their wake—sowing the dangerous seeds of a profound and alien concept: freedom!”

For book reviews consult the INDEX

For cover art posts consult the INDEX

21 thoughts on “Updates: Recent Science Fiction Acquisitions No. CCXXVI (Philip K. Dick, Tanith Lee, Paul Park, Gordon Eklund, and Poul Anderson)

    • Both are truly awful covers!

      I saw your comparison of Inheritors of Earth to Van Vogt — and suddenly I’m even less inclined to read it….

      I need to go back and read your review of Lee’s Day by Night.

  1. Written at the begining of the 1970s,”Flow My Tears,the Policeman Said”,was what can be called a new direction novel for Dick.It’s a mishmash of familiar themes and new tangents.I preferred the later “A Scanner Darkly”.I have that edition with the bland Richard Clifton-Dey cover.

    I haven’t liked Poul Anderson much.This one with Gordon Eklund sounds different,but I haven’t read anything by him.

    Another Peter Elson cover.It makes a change to his other covers of spaceships and technophilic backgrounds,and is done with fair intensity.

  2. The Dick is good.

    Of course, if you’re a Dick afficionado, what Dick novel — except VULCAN’S HAMMER — doesn’t have nuggets of Dickian goodness? But this was one of his better novels in the 1970s. If transitional as the person above me remarks. It’s better than what preceded it — OUR FRIENDS FROM FROLIX-8 and A MAZE OF DEATH — and I preferred it to some of what came next, the VALIS/DIVINE INVASION stuff.

    Not that those aren’t worth reading. If you ask me what the best 1970s Dick novel is, though, I’d say it’s probably the last one he published while still alive (IIRC) and is mainstream, THE TRANSMIGRATION OF TIMOTHY ARCHER.

    The Paul Park, SOLDIERS OF PARADISE, is also good. It’s quite literary and there are sections where you have to be patient with it because it doesn’t have any big SF conceptual eyeball kicks. But it proceeds in a fashion vaguely reminiscent of Gene Wolfe’s Urth or Aldiss’s Helliconia, and is worth reading.in the end.

    Also, speaking of Gene Wolfe, the first hardcover publication of SOLDIERS OF PARADISE had a Don Maitz illustration (presumably the publisher’s deliberate attempt to play up the idea that Park and Wolfe had affinities) which you can see here —

    As for the Anderson/Eklund, meh! This one was the very dregs of both writers.

    As for the Tanith Lee, I’ve never read any of her science fiction and I’m curious what you’ll make of it

  3. For some reason I have a problem with Paul Park’s books. He is exactly the type of author that I normally like, I love Wolfe, Crowley, Aldiss, Michael Bishop, etc, but I keep trying to read Park and somehow just lose interest and drift off. I don’t know why. I enjoy his style, and I love the concept of his Princess of Romania books, but the four volumes sit on my shelves unread with the bookmark about half way through volume one.

    I will try again, though I did give up and gave my copy of Soldiers of Paradise to the charity shop unfinished.

    Maybe some writers just fail ti resonate with some readers.

    • I feel for you on your “fail to resonate with some readers.” I want to love R. A. Lafferty–the strange mysticism of his stories, the unusual commentaries on memory and legend, the surreal scenes and interactions… But other than his short fiction, I cannot get into his work. I picked up and put down Past Master (1968) at least five times!

  4. Favorite cover was the one by Don Maitz, but I’ve always been a sucker for his work. Least liked cover was by the unidentified cover for Inheritors of Earth. It has a raw unfinished look to it. Reminds me of one of those perfunctory covers that graced porn novels of the sixties.

    Haven’t read any of the novels but I’ve liked the short fiction by all concerned that I’ve read. That is except for Paul Park, who’ve I’ve yet to read.

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