the Little Red Reviewer

It’s time for another Blind Date with a Book give away!  but this time, they are all Vintage science fiction books!

I’ll tell you a little about the book, but not the title or the author, and you get to decide if the book is worth a blind date! Here’s how the give away works:

  •  put in the comments what number book(s) you’re interested in. put #1, #2, etc. You can enter for more than one.
  • if WordPress doesn’t prompt you to enter your e-mail address, please give me some way to get a hold of you, such as twitter, e-mail, facebook, or to use  a contact page on your website
  • Give away ends on Friday Jan 27th, with winners being announced shortly thereafter
  • due to the costs of international shipping, unfortunately this is a US only give away. I love you everyone else, I just can’t afford to mail things to you!


Ermagerd I’m such a nerd, I typed up the descriptions on my circa 1940 typewriter.


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we-zamyatinWe by Yevgeny Zamyatin

written in 1921

where I got it: purchased used





I’ve owned this little paperback for years, and I’ve always been intimidated by it. Because the introduction is 20 pages long? Because the story was considered so subversive that it couldn’t be published in Zamyatin’s native Russia until 1988, fifty years after the author’s death? Maybe. And maybe because I was nervous that what was a riotious dystopian political satire in 1922 wouldn’t hold up, that I’d be too far removed from what the story referenced to understand the satire.


I should never have been intimidated.  The story is not subversive to my modern eyes,  and the all-inclusive satire holds up very well, with Zamyatin going after everyone he possibly can in an unsubtle fashion – Christians, a helicopter-parenting government, Authoritarianism, Big Brother, and anyone who agrees tacitly with a majority without bothering to analyze what’s happening. I solved my problem with the introduction by leaving it until after I’d finished the novel.  The “utopia” of We is reason taken to the nth degree,  protection of the people by removal of all choice,  a society built around the concept that humans can only be happy if when when all choice, all worryor concern of making a misstep, all need of something out of reach, all creativity, all freedom is taken from us.   Citizens are referred to as numbers, not as people. This is a society madly in love with math, reason, and rationalism, and terrified by question marks, the unknown, and the imagination.   Dissidents are publicly executed.


“When a man freedom equals zero, he commits no crime. That is clear. The only means of ridding man of crime is ridding him of freedom”


Not only is choice and freedom gone, but so is privacy. Homes and buildings are constructed of clear glass, the concierge in your apartment building reads your mail and registers your visitors, and privacy blinds may only be drawn if the proper paperwork is product with the partner you have registered for that day.

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The first week of Vintage SciFi Month has flown by, and the reviews and photos and instagrams and comments and twitter conversations are flying in!  Here’s an incomplete round up of blog posts, reviews, give aways, read alongs, and other goodies from the first week of Vintage month:

a review of Transfinite – The Essential A.E. Van Vogt  at Tip the Wink

The Tritonian Ring by L. Sprague de Camp review posted at Castalia House

Mervi’s Book Reviews discusses End of Eternity by Isaac Asimov

Join and catch up with the Dorsai! read along at Red Star Reviews

While you’re over at Red Star Reviews, learn how you can win a copy of The Book of Frank Herbert, a fantastic little collection of Herbert short stories

Ian Sales has a really excellent guest post at Science Fiction and other Suspect Ruminations about scifi writers Leslie Perri, Alice Eleanor Jones, and Sonya Dorman.


Have I missed you?   Click the “Vintage Science Fiction” tab at the top of the screen and ad your link in the comments!

crashing-suns-edmond-hamiltonCrashing Suns by Edmond Hamilton

first published in Weird Tales in 1928

where I got it – Three volume Hamilton set was a gift




That cover art looks familiar, doesn’t it?


Yep,  “Crashing Suns” by Edmond Hamilton is the cover art I screen-grabbed years ago for a Vintage SciFi image. At the time, I had no idea who Edmond Hamilton was, and I was too busy with my own things to start meaningful conversations with people who took a look at the badge I’d photoshopped and said “Hey, I know that book!”.   In my old age, I’m trying to get better.


A few years ago, I was gifted with a gorgeous three volume set of The Collected Works of Edmond Hamilton. The way our living room is set up, this is one of the first things you see displayed on top of the bookshelf when you walk into that room.   The back of the volumes feature cover art of novels, chapbooks, and magazines in which these novels, novellas, and short stories were originally published, and as I was flipping through, I saw artwork that looked mighty familiar to me (because I stole it). So OF COURSE I had to read the story!  The story behind the cover art is “Crashing Suns”, which is Hamilton’s first story in his Interstellar Patrol sequence of interrelated stories.


This was such a fun pulpy story! So many exclamation points, so many characters shouting, so many big bold adjectives. This is a story of big brassy sounds, saturated primary colors, and massive stakes (no there weren’t actually any brassy sounds or primary colors, but that’s my weird brain for you. But there are earth shatteringly large stakes for our heroes). At the beginning of the story, Earth gets news from an observatory that there is a star on a trajectory path towards our sun! And if it reaches here, obviously everyone will die!

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voyage-of-the-space-beagleVoyage of the Space Beagle, by A.E. Van Vogt

published in 1950

where I got it: purchased used




A sci-fantasy, the title of this fix-up novel is a direct reference to Charles Darwin’s Voyage of the Beagle, an exploratory voyage that lasted longer than expected and that hoped to discover and research new and different species and learn more about our natural world. I call it a sci-fantasy, because while there is plenty of science in this story, and the solutions to all their challenges are science derived, there is also a lot of “hand-wavium” that functions as overly simplified technobabble.


The scientist who becomes the main character as the story progresses is Elliott Grosvenor, who is a nexialist scholar. Nexialism is akin to interdisciplinary applied sciences – Grosvenor doesn’t study only chemistry or engineering or physics, he studies all of them, often under hypnosis to learn faster. The use of hypnosis has added an element of the studies of how the human mind works, allowing Grosvenor to both induce and rebel hypnosis and psychic attacks. Nexialism is a new science, and the other scientists aren’t sure what to do with the young Grosvenor. Some of them ignore him, others are outright antagonistic and aim to sabotage his work.  It’s neat how the scientific departments on the Space Beagle have the feel of a university, complete with different labs, work areas, and politics.


What makes this fix-up novel so famous is that one of the novellas, “The  Black Destroyer” is considered an official inspiration for the movie Alien (the screenwriters of the movie never admitted to plagarism, but were happy to quickly settle out of court for a chunk of change), but it’s a little more complicated than that.  “The  Black Destroyer” was first published in 1939 and is considered the beginning of the Golden Age of Science Fiction. The premise of this novella is that The Space Beagle touches down on an abandoned planet, and among the ruins finds a cat-like creature called Coeurl. Assuming Coeurl to be harmless, they allow it access to the ship, where it slowly tries to kill the crew with the intention of taking over the ship and traveling to where more of its food can be found.   Horrible things happen, people die, and the scientists have to come up with some method of tricking the beast which includes a life boat and an airlock.

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Vintage SF badgeHappy New Year!


Ok, so this isn’t EVERYTHING you need to know about how to Vintage SciFi Month, but it’s a pretty good list. Got more tips or questions? Put ’em in the comments, we’ll get ’em answered.

How do I tell everyone about my Vintage book that I did a January blog post about?   Click on the Vintage SciFi not-a-challenge tab at the top of Little Red Reviewer, and in the comments leave a link to your blog post.  If you’re on twitter, tweet a link, and mention @VintageSciFi_ and #VintageScFi.  If you’re on other social media sites, go nuts there too!


I like graphics and badges and banners. Do you have any of that stuff?

Sure!  Grab that red and yellow Vintage image at the top of this blog post and use however you’d like.

What if I want to read reviews of Vintage books that have already been reviewed?  Have I got some resources for you! The Vintage SciFi not-a-challenge tab up top is a running list of a zillion reviews that have been posted in conjunction with Vintage SciFi Month since we started doing this project.

here are some more resources:

Science Fiction and Other Suspect Ruminations – Joachim Boaz offers indepth reviews, commentary, and cover art galleries of everything science fiction you can imagine, focusing on 1930s-1970s. His site is truly incredible.

SF Mistressworks – managed by Ian Sales, SF Mistressworks features reviews of science fiction written by women. Not everything on here is Vintage, but a lot of it is.  Also just an incredible clearing house for book reviews.


Uggh, I bought this old paperback at the used book store, and it smells weird and how do I get this gross sticker off the front?

Not only is Jacob at Red Star Reviews my Vintage co-host, he’s also the master of cleaning up used books! Check out his post on how to safely remove stickers from paperbacks.

Also, if your paperback is kinda stinky, this blog post and the comments may help.


Forget tracking down paper copies and dealing with old musty books, I want to read all my Vintage books on my e-reader.

Technology meets history.  Open Road Media has been publishing a ton of older science fiction as e-books, here’s links to their Clifford Simak, Andre Norton, John Brunner,  and H.G. Wells.  Use their author index to find more.

Project Gutenberg offers a ton of free downloads for material that is no longer under copyright. Here’s a link to their Science Fiction bookshelf. My favorite thing about Project Gutenberg is all the old scifi short story magazines you can download.

I imagine has a bazillion vintage e-books available from other publishers. Many public libraries also have e-books available.


I don’t think I’ll have time to write a review, I don’t like writing reviews, I want to do blog posts that aren’t reviews. Can I still participate?

Of course you can, and we’re happy to have you!  do a blog post of Vintage books that look interesting to you. Do a post that’s nothing but cover art you think is cool.  Do a blog post that links to other people’s Vintage posts.  Comment on posts,  enter a give away, retweet some Vintage tweets, explore some reviews that were written in previous years to learn about new-to-you authors, lurk about as much as you want.  Don’t feel pressured to commit to more time or energy than you can realistically commit to.  Because I’ll tell you right now, January is going to be crazy at work for me, and I am already feeling over committed.




I’m the opposite of crafty, but I did grow up making paper snowflakes and loops of paper chains. All winter our house was covered in paper snowflakes.   As a kid, we’d cut paper into  a square, fold it diagonal, then fold it diagonal again, then start snipping.  get some cute 4 sided symmetrical snowflakes, and some fugly ones.  but wait, real snowflakes are 6 sided symmetry!!


Six sided symmetry didn’t defeat me for the gearflakes I made,  so it’s time to make some 6 sided symmetrical snowflakes.


I used silvery wrapping paper cuz it’s shiny.  I traced circles with a little plate, and cut them out.



Then I made a taco out of the circles, and then folded the tacos into thirds.  fold in half, then fold in thirds, that means now I have 6 wedges.  that’s the end of the math required, I promise.


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FTC Stuff

some of the books reviewed here were free ARCs supplied by publishers/authors/other groups. Some of the books here I got from the library. the rest I *gasp!* actually paid for. I'll do my best to let you know what's what.