Book Review: Secret Rendezvous, Kobo Abe (1977, trans. 1979)

(Tadanoi Yokoo’s cover for the 1979 edition)

5/5 (Masterpiece)

In Kobo Abe’s Secret Rendezvous (1977, trans. 1979) the hospital stretches like a recumbent body, leaking fluids through its membranes and undefined in its expansiveness, across the urban landscape. Within its labyrinthine interior, humans (agents of “disease”) animate various functions of the hospital for their own purposes–some sinister, some scientific, some sinisterly scientific. The hospital body lurches and vibrates with the sounds of its doctors and orderlies as they rewire the building’s organs and nerves in order to experiment on themselves and their patients. Within this veritable entity lacking a functional guiding agent, a harrowing, existential, and surreal Freudian mystery unfolds. Continue reading

Updates: Recent Science Fiction Acquisitions No. CCIV (Ely + Abe + Coulson + Malec)

1. Overpopulation + an author I’ve not encountered before? Can there be a better combo? I’ve long been a fan of the subgenre–and I’ve gathered a substantial number of both read and unread overpopulation-themed SF into a list. And yes, I know Laser Books has a reputation for publishing low-quality crud…. I am not expecting a masterpiece!

2. I’ve been on a Kobo Abe kick as of late! Secret Rendezvous (1977, trans. 1979) is, as of now, my favorite read of the year–I hope to have a review up soon. Back cover blurb here.

I went ahead and purchased another “SFish” Abe novel… I’ve seen Abe’s 1966 film adaption of his own work (directed by Hiroshi Teshigahara) and it’s a brilliant cinematic experience. I’m hoping the novel has some of the same magic!

3. Another source material novel for one of my favorite SF films–Frankenheimer’s Seconds (1966)… I’m 50 odd pages through the novel and some of the scenes in the movie are identical. The book and movie diverge as the story unfolds…. I look forward to finishing Ely’s disconcerting SF thriller.

4. And finally, a complete and utter unknown quantity…. Scroll down to find out.

Note: the hi-res scans are of my personal collection. As I am not a “collector,” I tend to go with cheaper copies even if it means they have substantial imperfections.

As always, thoughts and comments are welcome.



1. Unto the Last Generation, Juanita Coulson (1975)

(Kelly Freas’ cover for the 1975 edition) Continue reading

Updates: Recent Science Fiction Acquisitions No. CCIII (Holdstock + Attanasio + Conrad + Abe)

1. While browsing through various New Dimension anthologies I’ve procured recently (stay tuned for an all New Dimension post), I found a few names that I hadn’t heard of… I impulsively purchased A. A. Attanasio’s first novel–nominated for the 1982 Nebula Award.

2. I’ve read and reviewed a few short stories and novels by Robert Holdstock over the years. Eye Among the Blind (1976) had promise. And before I jump into his most famous works, I thought I’d explore more of his short stories first.

3. More Japanese SF in translation! This novel takes place in a vast underground hospital complex. COUNT ME IN!

4. Not sure what possessed me to grab this Curtis Books edition of an author those stories were rarely anthologized… oh wait, it included the words “overpopulation.” If you haven’t yet, check out my list of overpopulation-themed SF.

All the images are hi-res scans of my personal copies.

As always, thoughts and comments are greatly appreciated.

Enjoy (and happy book buying)!

1. Radix, A. A. Attanasio (1981)

(Fred Marcellino’s cover for the 1981 edition) Continue reading

Updates: Recent Science Fiction Acquisitions No. CCII “Vintage SF Novels in Translation Edition” (Franke + Le Clézio + Abe + Jeschke)

Vintage SF novels in translation from Japan! Germany! Austria! France!

1. I’ve wanted Kōbō Abe’s SF novel Inter Ice Age 4 for a long while…. If you’re curious, check out Admiral.Ironbombs’ fantastic review. I’m a huge fan of Abe’s non-SF works–for example, The Woman in the Dunes (1962). And of course, all the Japanese film adaptations of his novels directed by Hiroshi Teshigahara…. (which Abe wrote the screenplays for): IMDB link.

Tangent: If you haven’t seen Teshigahara’s 1966 adaptation of Abe’s SF novel The Face of Another (1964), you must! At the very least, browse the stills….

2. My second novel by Franke…. and I’m a few pages in and absolutely intrigued–the plot blurb I include below should tantalize virtually any SF fan. Stay tuned for a review (although it might be in a few weeks).

3. Wolfgang Jeschke’s The Last Day of Creation certainly has the most outrageous reason for time travel ever: to find oil. Curious why Brian Aldiss endorsed this so forcefully!

4. A “nightmare shopping complex” in a futuristic city from a Nobel Price-winning French author? Count me in! For those suspicious of categorizing some of Le Clézio’s work as SF, consult his entry in the SF Encyclopedia. 

As always, comments and tangents are welcome.

Enjoy the covers!


1. Inter Ice Age 4, Kōbō Abe (1959, trans. E. Dale Saunders, 1970)

(Joseph del Gaudio’s cover for the 1970 edition) Continue reading

[short] Diaristic Fragments on Japanese New Wave Film: Nagisa Ôshima’s Empire of Passion (1978), Masahiro Shinoda’s Double Suicide (1969), Shûji Terayama’s Pastoral Hide and Seek (1974), and Shôhei Imamura’s The Pornographers (1966)


(Still from The Pornographers (1966), dir. Shôhei Imamura)

In the beginning the “Other Suspect Ruminations” part of my site’s title referred to my filmic obsessions. It’s been five years since I’ve posted along those lines. As diligent readers might be able to tell, I am fascinated by the general historical context (and earlier) of the SF decades I enjoy the most—from the Czech New Wave to the Japanese New Wave, from 60s/70s political jazz to the surrealists.

Until a few months ago my experience with Japanese New Wave film was limited to Hiroshi Teshigahara’s collaborations with the Japanese author (of SF and literature) Kôbô Abe—The Woman in the Dunes (1964), The Face of Another (1966) and Pitfall (1962)—and a few surreal Seijun Suzuki yakuza flics including Branded to Kill (1967) and Tokyo Drifter (1966) and Masahiro Shinoda’s hyper-stylized Pale Flower (1964). I highly recommend all of the above, especially The Face of Another (1966) if you’re interested in Japanese New Wave’s take on science fiction.


(A tantalizing scene from The Face of Another)

Recently my horizons have expanded. I am in no way a scholar of Japan or claim to be knowledgeable about Japanese culture, however, the narrative experimentation Continue reading