the Little Red Reviewer

Huge thank you to Jacob of Red Star Reviews!  He not only co-hosts Vintage SciFi month and runs the VintageSciFi twitter and instagram, he also invited me onto his podcast to talk about Vintage SciFi Month! (click here for all of the Red Star Reviews podcast episodes)

 

Recording this podcast was the most fun I’ve had in ages, and Jacob is a fantastic host and producer. The episode is around 37 minutes long, and you can listen to it by clicking here:

A Conversation on Vintage Science Fiction Month

 

We talked about how Vintage Science Fiction Month started, how it grew, what the rules are (spoiler: there really aren’t any), the joy of it being multi-generational, laughing when sometimes books turn out to be stinkers, and resources for finding Vintage books online, such as Project Gutenberg, LibriVox, Luminist, buying e-books, and getting e-books from your local library.

 

Huge thanks to Jean at Howling Frog for turning me on to Luminist Archive, that place is amazing!

 

Show notes:

Project Gutenberg
Luminist Archives (everything)
Luminist archives SF Magazines
Librivox Audiobooks – free public domain
Ann and Jeff Vandermeer “big books”, these are avail in print and e-book.
Big Book of Classic Fantasy
Big Book of Science Fiction
The Weird Compendium
Sultana’s Dream by Rokheya Sakhawat Hossain at Strange Horizons
Open Road Media – lots of classic scifi avail in print and e-book

An Absolutely Remarkable Thing, by Hank Green

published in 2018

where I got it: the library

It’s been a year of reading important books, and important news, hasn’t it?

Yeah, nothing my brain rebels more against than being told I have to to do something. Also, well, 2020.  I don’t think any of us have reached our reading aspirations this year.

And we should be kinder to ourselves.

The best thing I did for my mental health in the last 6 months was go to the library.  The why behind that is a long story.  But I purposely got books that weren’t important. I purposely got books that had nothing to do with the year 2020.

One of the books I got was An Absolutely Remarkable Thing, which some friends at work had been raving over since it came out in 2018.  As it turned out, this book, that was on a random shelf, in a random library aisle, was remarkably exactly what I needed.

The book was a ridiculously fast read, buckets of rapid speed dialog, all the mundane moments skipped with paragraphs that started with “later that evening” or “two days later”.   If you are looking for quiet moments of contemplation, and deep character studies, this is not the book for you.  You know those one season Netflix shows that seem to cram 4 seasons of stuff into 8 episodes, and the wrap up is a call back to the opening scenes and then you want to watch the entire thing over again and it was the perfect escape, which is why we love Netflix? (Russian Doll, looking at you!) This book is very much like that.

The author, Hank Green, seems to have had buckets of fun writing this!  And i don’t know if it was the mood I was in when i read it, or if Green likes a lot of the same things I like, but I kept getting half sorta easter eggs,  which aren’t spoilers.  I was reading a fun book, and it was reminding me of other fun tv shows and movies that I liked, and that only added to my enjoyment, is what I mean.

Ready for a tornado of action? Let’s go!

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Zipped right through An Absolutely Remarkable Thing, because it is a fun, super fast read. First person perspective, all dialog, no one really thinks before they act,  buckets of fun escapism. Review (or something) coming soon (maybe).

 

I usually shy away from horror, because I am a ‘fraidy cat.  If Angeline Jolie’s movie Changeling is the scariest movie I’ve ever seen, y’all really think I can handle anything scary?

 

So of course I started reading Daryl Gregory’s We Are All Completely Fine.  it’s  a novella, and it is about a bunch of people who are doing group therapy. All these people have been through terrible, awful, traumatic things. When I read the back cover copy, i immediately got an earworm of Heathens, by 21 Pilots (huh. I get a lot of 21 Pilots earworms).

 

The older, chatty guy in the group was the survivor of a group of cannibals. When the artist lady got thinking about the scrimshaw thing, I noped right outta there. Like I said, I’m a total ‘fraidy cat, and this novella was gonna way too scary for me.

 

So I started reading Crosstalk by Connie Willis, which like a lot of her books, is supposed to be a scifi screwball romantic comedy.  I’ve only ever read her Oxford time travel books, and the only one of those I’d describe as remotely comedic was To Say Nothing of the Dog.  anyway.

 

The premise of Crosstalk is. . .  it doesn’t matter for the purposes of this conversation. The main character, Briddy, is overwhelmed with people trying to get a hold of her.  Her sisters text her a few times an hour, and call her at work if she doesn’t respond, and they also randomly show up at her office, at work, because they want her attention/opinion.  That’s fine, because she can’t even get to her office at work, because as soon as she steps into the office building, people are pestering her every five feet, and it takes her a half hour just to get down the hall (this is supposed to be funny, but to me, it was horrifying!).  When she does finally get 30 seconds to herself at her desk, 90 emails come in.  Of course having family that won’t give you a moments peace means you are loved, and being bombarded with emails at work means you are important, right?

 

Umm . . . the Daryl Gregory is suddenly sounding much less scary.  At least when those people go to their group therapy meeting, their phones are turned off and people aren’t barging in the room asking them their opinions on online dating sites.

 

(by the way, i kept reading Crosstalk, because it was so so freakin’ cute. It’s not exactly super scary anymore. Only a little scary. I KNOW Briddy will end up being thankful for her meddling family who doesn’t give her a moment’s peace. . . because it’s better than not having any family at all, and that’s kinda how these Willis books work, so . . . )

 

stay tuned!

 

I owe you a Deep Space Nine post, don’t I?

A couple of weeks ago, i needed yet another comfort read. I didn’t want to read anything new, I didn’t want to read something that reminded me of now.  It was the week of the election, and all i wanted to do was escape anything and everything that had anything to do with the year 2020.

So I picked up N.K. Jemisin’s The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms.  I’d read this book for the first time back in 2013, as part of a read along hosted by Dab of Darkness, and I remembered liking it, and enjoying the whole trilogy, and there was something about enslaved gods, and the middle book in the trilogy was really funny?

Woah. I forgot how sexy The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms is!  There isn’t like, a ton of sex, but damn is this book sexy and hot! And those handful of sex scenes? WOAH.  like, DAMN.

And this was Jemisin’s debut novel, are you freakin’ kidding me?  I’m not surprised at all that The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms was nominated for a Hugo and a Nebula, and won the Locus award for best first novel, cuz, you know, Jemisin.

Ok, so anyway, if you’ve not read Jemisin’s The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms, it’s fantastic. And if you read Jemisin’s three years in a row Hugo award winning Broken Earth Trilogy and it freakin’ destroyed you and you are still picking those little pieces up off the floor . . .  The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms (and the rest of it’s trilogy, The Inheritance Trilogy) is much, much gentler.

What’s the premise of the book, you ask?  Once upon a time, there was a war among the gods. And after the war the humans enslaved the gods.

Yep, you read that right – the gods are the servants of the humans.

And because humans shouldn’t do terrible, amoral, depraved things, we make the enslaved gods do those things for us.  And the gods have their own set of morals that don’t quite mesh with ours, so it’s all ok, right?

Yeah, um, no it isn’t.

I’m a sucker for mythology. And I’m a double-sucker for gods to have the same weaknesses and failings that people have, and for gods to talk to each other and to people, and for gods to have really, really long memories.  I am a triple sucker for gods who are trapped in their own mythologies.

The mythology in The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms? Oh, it is so exactly the kind of thing that I love!  I kinda want to reread the novel AGAIN (even though I read it two weeks ago?) just for the mythology!  A god of chaos, a god of order, a god of twilight/dawn/birth/death/change,  a godling who is the embodiment of childhood? And they all (ok, some of them) talk to each other, and to us?  Yes please! And all that mythology I love so much? In this book, it’s happening right now, in the present tense! eeee!!!!

Oh, the plot, you want to know about that too, I suppose.

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Fellow lady-bloggers, I need your insight on something, because maybe you have had a similar experience as me.

Gents, you are welcome to read as well, but this is not a conversation for you, as you’ll see.

 

 

Sisters, lets talk about reading and blogging and PMS. Specifically, do you react more emotionally to books, to #allthefeels, to angsty stuff in books, when you are PMSing? Do you write more emotional reviews / blog posts when you are PMSy? Do you notice when it is happening?

 

Like, earlier today I finished a novel where the main character dies at the end. It wasn’t a surprise, in like the 2nd chapter, the main character tells the reader that they are dead at the end of the book. There was literally no other way for this book to end, except for the character to die. So what did I do when I got to the end, and this person, who isn’t really a likable person, dies? I burst out in ugly sobs, of course. Thanks PMS. I won’t tell you the book, because that is a huge spoiler for people who haven’t read it.

 

Also, my PMS can be fucking brutal*. I get every single emotion at once, and on a scale of one to ten, they are at about fourteen. This lasts for about five days, and I usually figure out what’s going on on like day three, when I realize I’ve said “about to cut a bitch” six times in one sentence. And it’s hard to describe in specifics to a doctor or to anyone really, because I have no idea how I compare to anyone else. Are my mood swings less or more than the medical average? Um, how the fuck would I know? Does eating high fiber vegetables, meditating, avoiding caffiene and alcohol, and putting my life on hold for 5 days help? Actually, yes. Do I have the flexibility in my life to do that for 5 days every month? Omg, that’s hilarious. Especially the part about avoiding caf and alc!

 

(what does seem to help? allowing the mood swings to happen, not feeling ashamed of them, and thousands of calories of carbs)

 

Honestly, for all I know my PMS is off the charts cray-cray. Or maybe it is completely normal. Or maybe I have it easy, and 80% of women have it way worse. It’s not a broken bone than I can compare to someone else’s x-ray, or an objective test score about reading comprehension or spelling. All I can do is ask questions along with the rest of us on the women’s health subreddit.

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It’s been so long since my last blog post that I forgot that the block editor was a thing.

 

thank god for “classic editor”, am I right?

 

This past week’s excitement aside, I’ve been really itching to do . . .  well . .   anything.  My city isn’t in lockdown, but not a lot is open.  Retail shopping has lost all joy, it’s shop alone and get in, get what you need, get out, no browsing, no trying on clothes. Every going to the bookstore is just depressing.

I needed something to get me out of the house, I needed something a little different, and I needed something that wouldn’t socially burn out introvert me.

So I signed up to volunteer with Meals on Wheels,  and I renewed my library card.

I used to be at the library all the freakin time!  I’d go to my local library every other weekend, and then on the other weekends I’d go to the library in the next town!  And then I got into blogging, and got into ARCs and had more books than I knew what to do with, and then I also found really good used bookstores and then my finances were finally such that I could afford to buy books new when I wanted them, and I also have a local group of book-ish friends and we are often sharing books back and forth.  so my library card expired and I didn’t even realize it.

I called the library earlier this week, to see what the policies were about getting my card renewed. They looked my up in their computer, and I wasn’t there.

It had been so long since I used my library card, that I wasn’t even in their computer anymore! That was embarrassing!  But? they said just come on in, and we’ll give you a new card.

So this morning, I did!  and five minutes later, I had a new library card account.

You know what I love about the library?  Every step, every aisle feels like a surprise.  What books are down this row? you won’t know unless you look!  what books are on that shelf? guess you’ll have to look to find out!   what’s on the “we recommend” shelf?  It changes every week!

I didn’t have any specific books or authors in mind, I just wanted to browse, and see what caught my eye.

here’s what I got!

Crosstalk by Connie Willis – I love her stuff, and this is one I’ve never read before.  this is a doorstopped chunkster of a book, holy crap! I better not read this in bed, if I drop it on my face I might break my nose.

An Absolutely Remarkable Thing by Hank Green – A bunch of friends have recommended this to me, it looks like a fun, fast read.  Something about social media and going viral going horribly wrong.

We are all Completely Fine by Daryl Gregory – a bunch of friends have recommended this too! I’ve read a couple of short stories by Gregory, and enjoyed them. So let’s give this a whirl.

Have you read any of these? did you like them?

 

I didn’t get a ton of books, but guess what? I can return these and get more, whenever I want.  There is something about that phrase, whenever I want, that right now feels so freeing.

 

Tags:

who writes 1900 words about a handful of Deep Space Nine episodes?  That would be me.

if you’re wondering where I’m getting these images and some trivia,  most of the pictures and all of the trivia comes from Memory Alpha Wiki.

Looking for my previous Season 3 SD9 posts?

S3 eps 1-4

S3 eps 5-8

S3 eps 9-12

I think we’re now at the halfway point of this season!  These next few episodes balanced humor with seriousness, satisfied my need to hear Wallace Shawn’s voice,  gave me a 21 Pilots earworm, and made me gasp outloud “hey, she looks just like Lisa!”

This post is picture and link heavy.

She looks just like Lisa!

Life Support (ep 13) – See, I KNEW Kira had a boyfriend! What was up with her getting all blushy over creeper not-that-Riker? A Bajoran shuttle was on it’s way to the station for peace talks with the Cardassians, and there was an accident. A semi-conscience Vedek Bareil is taken straight to the infirmary.  Kira and Bareil are a casual item – they spent romantic time (aka sexy times) together when they’re in the same place at the same time, but Kira has never admitted her serious feelings for him. But the way she looks at him? The way her face lights up when he enters a room? It’s obvious to Odo that she’s smitten, even if Kira won’t admit it to herself.

 

The Kai needs Bareil awake and alive, she’s dependent on him to assist with the peace talks. No matter his injuries, she insists that Bashir do everything possible to keep Bareil awake, even as the long-term side effects of the treatments threaten long term damage.

 

Meanwhile, the fun part of the episode – Jake and Nog go on a double date, and it’s a hilarious disaster. Jake is a perfect (and adorable) gentleman to his date Leanne (holy shit, is that Lisa from Saved by the Bell? Omg, it is! Wait, were other Saved by the Bell actors on Star Trek too?), and he tries his best to make sure Leanne’s friend has a good time too.  Nog on the other hand. . . . we don’t have much experience with Ferengi romance and courting rituals, do we? Well, I don’t, and Jake didn’t.  Nog gets offended when Jake treats the ladies “like equals”. Nog tells his date to sit there and shut up, and to cut his meat for him.  The girls storm off in anger, and Nog can’t understand why Jake is mad at him.  The whole scene is hilarious! Nog was just treating the girls the same way he’d treat any Ferengi female, what’s the problem?

Back in the infirmary, Bareil’s condition is worsening, and the Kai keeps pushing for riskier treatments to keep him alive.  He experiences irreversible brain damage, and Bashir gives him a sort-of positronic implant to help that part of his brain that’s no longer worker. (I work in a health-care-adjacent industry, where is the next of kin? WHY is the Kai, who is effectively Bareil’s boss, allowed to make medical decisions for him? Does Bashir not understand how medical power of attorney works and doesn’t work?? Unless the Kai is Bareil’s mom, none of this is ok!!)

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I needed a comfort read.

After 4 days of trudging thru the world’s most boring political thriller and finally DNFing it, I needed a comfort read. Something I knew I was going to like, something distracting and escapist, ideally something I’d read before and maybe forgotten the ending of.

So I picked up Borne, by Jeff Vandermeer, which I read  a few years ago, and loved.

My strong memories from the first time I read Borne were:

Rachel sleeps with her shoes on. I understand why, but that sucks.

Borne has major sensory overload (i think?). I get that.

I remembered some stuff that Rachel had a boyfriend, I remembered it was a post apocalyptic story where everyone is near starving, I remembered the “villain” was a flying psycho-bear.  I remembered thinking Vandermeer seems to have a thing for bears. And a thing for tidal pools.

Borne is a book about, among other things, living with discomfort.  When you’re just trying to survive another week, comfort is at the bottom of your priority list. In this burned out,  half blown up, shell of a post-apocalyptic city, everyone scavenges anything they can find.  Bugs and lizards are dinner, because that’s all there is. You’ll trade anything for the medications that keep you alive. Finding a new set of clothing is easy, there’s usually someone recently dead in the road who doesn’t need theirs anymore.  Rachel is so desperate for good scavenge, that she’s willing to climb on a sleeping bear.

No one in this book is comfortable.  No one knows how long they’ll be safe. Or loved. Or accepted. Or tolerated.

So why the hell would I read this as a comfort book?

Your guess is as good as mine, but I read it, zipped through it, couldn’t put it down.  Borne himself is just as amazing and glorious and curious and weird and alien as he was last time I saw him.  He’s naive, but not.  Rachel needs someone she can love, and Borne realizes he doesn’t want to disappoint her, he doesn’t want her to regret loving him.

And damn did I forget the ending to this book!  It’s going along nicely,  Rachel trying to balance raising Borne and trying to figure out what the hell he is, while at the same time keeping her boyfriend Wick at bay.  Wick and Borne, um, they don’t really get along, and only Wick knows why.

The letter Wick writes to Rachel at the end, holy crap.

The wall that Rachel sees in the building, near the end. Holy crap.

The things (that are hopefully dead), that are falling out of the boxes, in that room, holy crap.

What Borne means when he says “Rachel, I can’t stop”.  And Rachel lying to herself, that she doesn’t understand what he’s talking about.  And Wick, who can’t bring himself to tell Rachel anything about his past, for fear he’ll be found unworthy of her love.

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The leaves are turning, the wind is kicking up, the temperature is plummeting, I’m making autumn food and planning for Thanksgiving.

 

that means it’s time to start planning Vintage Science Fiction Month with my co-host Jacob from Red Star Reviews!

 

Every January I go back in time and read/watch/listen to science fiction and fantasy that was created before 1979.  Why 1979?  it’s the year I was born.  You can choose to read/watch/listen to spec fic from before 1979, or from before the year you were born. Up to you!

 

Everyone involved with Vintage month spends January blogging, booktubing, tweeting, insta’ing, FBing, and booksta’ing about the vintage scifi they’ve been reading. We use super modern technology to talk about super old stuff!  If you read a Vintage book and you loved it, we want to hear about it! Did you watch a really old TV show or movie, or listen to an old radio play? We wanna hear about it!  Maybe that vintage book you are reading, it just isn’t doing it for you. maybe it didn’t age well? We wanna hear about it!   Use the hashtag #VintageScifiMonth on all the socials,  and if you’re on twitter, follow us at @VintageSciFi_ .

 

Years past have had bingo cards, blind-date-with-a-Vintage-book, giveways, read alongs, and more.  Not entirely sure yet what this year will bring!  What would you like to see?

 

I’ve got something different that I’m doing this January. Typically, I’d buy or borrow a ton of old paperbacks. I have a ton of old paperbacks that I bought used, over the years. Here’s the thing though – many of these books smell like they were in grandma’s basement for 40 years. My old-lady sinuses just aren’t having it anymore. If I open a book, and get an instant migraine because the book is musty or moldy . . .  I’m not gonna read it.

 

My big change for this January is I’m giving my sinuses a break from moldy old books. Everything I read for Vintage month this year will be a relatively new printing that wasn’t in grandma’s basement for 60 years, or a digital copy.  I have a copy of the Big Book of Science Fiction and the Big Book of Fantasy (edited by the Vandermeers) both of which have a ton of obscure short stories from befre 1979, I’m gonna go crazy downloading old stuff from Project Gutenberg, and there’s a good chance I’ll be buying some e-books of older anthologies.  Yes, I said e-books!   Yes, I have spent the last ten years railing against e-books and complaining about them . .  and I plan to spend at least the next ten years bitching and complaining about them. But? when given the choice between a musty, moldy, ratty paperback that gives me an insta-headache. . .  and an e-book, I’ll take the e-book.

 

I’m counting down the days till January!

A Wizard’s Guide to Defensive Baking by T. Kingfisher is one of the cutest, most fun books I’ve read in a long time! Apparently it’s been a while since I read some Ursula Vernon/T. Kingfisher.

 

Ok, so the book isn’t all cutesy – people die, assassins go after teenagers, kids are homeless, adults act like idiots, there is some shit to be said about why we need heroes in the first place. . . ok, crap, this book is actually pretty dark, now that I’m thinking about it.

 

(the book doesn’t have any swear words, because Mona is a good girl. but #sorrynotsorry, this review has a lot of swear words.)

 

But I felt cute while I was reading it?  I laughed a lot while I was reading it. I loved all the characters, i loved loved LOVED Mona’s internal voice, i kept snarking “not my gumdrop buttons!” outloud, and reading this book really made me want to bake and hold my loved ones close.  Reading it made me feel hopeful.

 

So, after Mona’s parents died, she went to live with her aunt and uncle and work in their bakery. Well, she works there, but she lives in her own little room down the street. At fourteen years old, she leaves her apartment at 4am, goes to the bakery, and starts the ovens.  What were you doing at 14?   Mona is also an amateur wizard – she can make bread dough do cute things. The bakery customers (ok, some of them) love it when she makes the gingerbread men get up and dance (some of the customers think she’s a creepy witch).  There’s also this semi-sentient bucket of sourdough starter in the basement named Bob.  Bob eats the rats.  #teamBob.

 

One sleepy morning, Mona arrives at work, to find a strange girl in the bakery. The girl is also dead. Aunts are woken up, police are called.  And not too many days after that, when Mona gets to work in the wee hours of the morning, the assassin is waiting for her too.

 

Fourteen year olds shouldn’t have to escape from assassins at four oclock in the morning.

 

And I haven’t even had a chance yet to tell you about Knackering Molly and her dead horse Nag! I wonder what Bob and Nag would think of each other? Molly freakin’ rocks, by the way.

 

The assassin is obviously another wizard.  Why the heck would a wizard be hunting other wizards, especially someone like Mona, a teenager who has limited magical abilities?

 

Things happen, and then dear reader, you will read the funniest scene you have ever read in your life. It involves Mona and her new friend Spindle climbing up a, um, sort of drain pipe?  The, um, drain pipe that leads directly to the Duchess’s, um, garderobe.  Ain’t the Duchess in for a shock when she walks into her bathroom to find two shit covered teenagers. My friends, I was laughing so hard I fell out of my chair!

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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.