Raumschiff Orion: Another One That Got Away…

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Europe’s answer to Star Trek? Books of the series that are actually worth reading?? Never before available in English?! Well, we were excited when we came across these sci-fi novels based on the ’60s TV series ‘Space Patrol; Orion’ (‘Raumpatrouille – Die phantastischen Abenteuer des Raumschiffes Orion’ in the original German). They were penned by one of the creators of the TV series, Hans Kneifel, which is probably why they work as novels, without the mechanical feel of many TV tie-ins. Raumpatrouille only ran for seven episodes – it was a joint French-German production, and even in black and white and with sets partly constructed from futuristic hair-driers, there wasn’t the money for any more. They are, however, a wonder in themselves: wildy inventive, a groovy jazz soundtrack, and great characterisation. They retain cult status in Germany. where the Orion book franchise stands at over a hundred titles. But as so often it’s copyright, and particularly the job of tracing the rights holders, that has scuppered our attempts to bring them to an unsuspecting English-speaking audience. The TV company denies knowledge of who owns the rights. The German publishers don’t hold translation rights. The author, sadly, died a few years back. Months of e-mails and calls have been of no avail. So the project is now formally in suspended animation. Maybe one day…

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