Here’s an odd little book.
It was fairly routine for publishers to use sex to sell paperbacks in the 60s and 70s (and 80s, and 90s, and….) But usually they teased the reader with sexy cover art, or code words like “sensuous” and “spicy” (or “French”) to signal sexual content. The Pollinators of Eden has a more overt sexual theme, dealing with an intelligent and sexually voracious species of tulip discovered on a distant planet.
It was Boyd’s second novel, following The Last Starship from Earth (1968), and preceding The Rakehells of Heaven (1969) and Sex and the High Command (1970), and critics at the time didn’t really know what to make of it. Analog reviewer P. Schuyler Miller praised it as “A treat for its picture of intra- and interagency intrigue alone… a worthy candidate for the next round of ‘best novel’ awards,” but M. John Harrison called it “a feebler look at The Ring of Ritornel,” and Kirkus Reviews said it “has enough Freudian fertilizer to swamp any Eden.”
It was not a hit in the US, and has never been reprinted here. But in the UK it appeared in four separate paperback editions between 1970-78, from Gollancz, The Science Fiction Book Club (UK), Pan, and Penguin. It has been out of print for 38 years.
The Pollinators of Eden was published by Dell in November 1970. It is 212 pages, priced at 75 cents. I bought the copy above (along with The Last Starship From Earth) in an online lot for $2.99. The cover is by Paul Lehr; click the images above for bigger versions. There is no digital edition.