the Little Red Reviewer

the Vintage SF not-a-challenge

Posted on: October 30, 2011

The first post on my January Vintage SciFi not-a-challenge got so much comments/conversation, I figured it was time to do a teeny bit more planning and organizing for this thing. Cuz thanks to everyone’s (that’s YOU by the way!) excitement , it looks like it’s gonna be big and awesome.

let’s get right to the FAQs.

What counts as vintage?   I’m gonna say anything Science Fiction that was published before 1979.  Sword and Sorcery counts. Sci-Fantasy counts. short stories count. Jules Verne and Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein count. Anthologies count. If it was published before I was born and you consider it Science Fiction, it counts.

What’s a not-a-challenge?  Exactly what it sounds like.  This isn’t a challenge, it’s just a fun thing to help garner some attention to all that wonderful classic, golden age, vintage SF that influenced many of your favorite contemporary writers. Other than Herbert, Asimov and Heinlein,  I’m woefully underread in the classics, so this is my chance to make up for some of that. There are no sign ups, no points, no contests, no prizes. Read one vintage SF book or 10, or 50 or Zero. Actually, don’t read 50, that would make me look like a total slacker. and then I’d cry.

How can bloggers who are participating identify themselves?  I’ll come up with some kinda badge-y jpg thing, soon, I promise. you can put it in the side bar, or in the post, or whatever you feel like doing.  If I’m really smart, I’ll start a Vintage SF tab up top on the page and you can post your links in the comments section.

On Twitter? use #vintageSciFi

Need some suggestions? There are plenty in the comments of the original post, and feel free to post in the comments what you plan to read, hope to read, or types of stories you’d like to read (first contact, space opera, YA, etc), and I’ll bet others will offer plenty of suggestions to help you out.  In fact, I already took a few suggestions from Richard:

Ok, he didn’t suggest Regan’s Planet by Silverberg, but it’s a Silverberg!  Resistance is Futile.

35 Responses to "the Vintage SF not-a-challenge"

It will be fun! Especially as it coincides with the 5th year of the science fiction related non-challenge that I host in January/February, The Science Fiction Experience (previously known as the Sci-Fi Experience but changed this year after some ‘education’ about how ‘true’ SF fans feel that term is derogatory). I always have a hankering for the classics during that time and cannot wait to see what everyone decides to read.

I will definitely be promoting your non-challenge as a co-experience with my own if that is okay with you and if you are okay with books qualifying for both.

I also hope you and many of your participants will join in on the group read of Foundation beginning in January. And actually if you yourself are planning on joining in I might as well throw out a request to see if you’ll come up with questions for one of the weeks? I’m thinking of splitting the group read into two 10 day reading periods. The book is less than 300 pages long. Your thoughts?

I won’t post anything about The Science Fiction Experience 2012 until mid-late December and if you are cool with it I will include a link to yours. I’ll also post about the group read around that time. I plan on doing Foundation and doing Puppet Masters in February. So can’t wait to reread both of those books.

As you know I picked up several vintage books recently and have many others I’ve purchased over the last few years. The fun will be deciding what I am going to read.

So….since I was born in 1968, does that mean I am vintage as well?!?! 🙂


Well, you might be vintage, you might not. you’re only as old as you feel!

I was planning to read Foundation, and would love to join you with Foundation. I might not do it as an official read-along here, but it’ll be two conversations or some such. Are you doing that through Stainless Steel, or through the Yahoo group that was linked to on your blog?

I never found the phrase “SciFi” derogatory. I’m of the generation that takes phrases like that an owns them!


I’ll be doing the group read of Foundation through my blog. I figure I’ll be doing two simultaneous but different group discussions of Foundation. The book club just does things more free form and so I thought it would be fun to do both at the same time.

And considering the fact that I pulled a chest muscle moving some furniture and feel like I’ve been hit by a truck, I guess I must be really old indeed!!!


It’s not just you. I did 15 minutes of Yoga and feel like I got hit by a train.


I’m hereby signing up. This way I can merge it with Carl’s SF Experience. I’m lacking in a lot of sci-fi (it isn’t really derogatory is it? And if so can we not reclaim the word?). Much more of a fantasy fan, and I always mean to correct that but never seem to…


Oh yes, it really and truly is. Just get some of the real knowledgeable science fiction fans to tell you all about it. Actually I think you can find a good explanation of it on wiki or somewhere.

I grew up in an age where “sci fi” meant all the things I love about science fiction, but I didn’t realize that it was a term that had long before come to be associated with the stuff that is considered dreck and the worst examples of this type of fiction.


What I’m getting from a bit of research was that starting in the 70’s people in publishing and writing moved away from the term to distance their work from “juvenile” stuff about ray gun heroes. Personally I think the argument is now a bit dated, and I am totally in favor of reclaiming the term! I’m a fan, and I’ll call it SF or sci-fi or science fiction depending on my mood, how clear I want to be and how many letters I have available (Hello, Twitter). 😉

(On the other hand, a Side Note about genres: Personally, I’d rather read something called Sci-Fi than Speculative Fiction. Speculative Fiction, to me, says “I’m pretentious and want to pretend I’m better than writing in genre fiction.” I know it’s also used for sort of cross-genre stuff, but I guess none of us can help our first impressions.)


Yes, I hate the term speculative fiction. Ugh.

And maybe I should not be so quick to change the title of my “experience”, given how long I’ve been using it. I have some really good friends that I respect who also really hate the term and they have been the ones who have turned me on to some of my favorite classic fiction, so I still may go with the name change out of acknowledgement to them even though when I use the term “sci fi” I don’t mean the dreck.

I also really hate the Sci Fi Channel’s name change to “SyFy”. What is that?!?! Talk about a step backwards for those who would like science fiction to be taken seriously.

I also have to admit that in addition to liking more “literary” science fiction, I love some of the old “ray gun” adventure stories. I don’t see liking one kind or the other as mutually exclusive and instead prefer to read stories that are entertaining, be they hard sf or stuff like Burrough’s John Carter of Mars series.


I think I will probably try and participate. I will be doing Carl’s Science-Fiction Experience at the same time, so it should be fun. I should start brain-storming now because I never read as much science-fiction as I would like during those two months.


I really like this idea. There was tons of SF stuff before I was born (78) and it deserves reading.


Very happy to have you along! 😀


Eek, I wish I weren’t all but committed to rereads throughout January! I’ve been meaning to read more vintage SF for a while now. I’ll try to sneak a couple in, but I’m not sure how much qualifying rereadable stuff I have on hand. I’ll have to poke at my reading list and see what gives.


Love this idea. I think Jules Verne or H.G. Wells for me.


Excellent! With all this golden age SF, we certainly need some Verne and or Wells to even things out. 😀


Vintage SF is one of my favorites. My problem is narrowing down the list of ones I want to read for it. I will be joining in on the “Foundation” reading.


Jim, I’m having the same problem. I started out with a half dozen books I wanted to read for this. that turned into a dozen, which turned into 20, and then I bought a bunch more.

Realistically, I think I can do about 12 to 15.


Excellent. Mighty fine choices you made with the book pictured. As you say, resistance is futile. I’m in. It’s hardly fair, since I read this stuff – along with mystery fiction – all the time any way, but what the heck. I limp along in Carl’s SG thingie too.

I do have a problem with Sword & Sorcery being included with SF, it is really fantasy or it’s own category, but it’s your house so we play by your rules. Pre-1979, eh? Okay, think I’ll start off with Hal Clement’s Mission of Gravity, one of the best SF novels no one heard of these days.


You’re one of my resident experts, so I expect full participation from you, young man! 😉

I was on the fence about the Sword and Sorcery stuff, but what little of it that I’ve read feels like sci-fantasy, so I figured I’d make it fair game.


Yessim, I’ll do my best. When is it, again, please, I start this?


I know my plans are always much bigger than my reality when it comes to books I want to read during the months of January and February. I would like to get to some contemporary stuff by Alastair Reynolds and Ian McDonald, among others, and in addition to the Asimov and Heinlein I am planning on reading I would like to read some more Jack Vance, some Poul Anderson, Andre Norton. I’d like to get to Dragonflight by McCaffrey. I want to read some Keith Laumer and re-read some Harry Harrison or perhaps read some Harrison that I haven’t read before.

Over the last couple of years January has been my most prolific reading month of the year and I usually average 9 or 10 books. I hope that trend continues in 2012.


Go for a dozen, Carl! A book every 3 days…


Ha, don’t see that happening Richard!

I picked up a few more “vintage” books at a local used bookstore today, including another Laumer ‘Bolo’ book, “Rogue Bolo”.


I picked up a couple more too. I just couldn’t help myself!! Carl, what are these “Bolo” books of which you speak?


The ‘Bolo’ stories are a series of short stories (and I guess at least one novel, maybe more) of intelligent, one could say sentient, battle tanks. The stories I’ve read are very much like reading Asimov’s robot short stories so if you like those you are pretty much assured to like these. And even if not, or if you haven’t read Asimov’s robot stories, these are very, very good. I read a collection of the shorts earlier this year, here is my review:

In it you’ll find links to free versions of all but one of the stories in the collection online. I’d recommend trying to track down the book itself (just because I like reading books, and the Vincent di Fate cover is cool), but this could at least give you an idea.


The see you have ‘City’ by Simak. It is a great book, but be aware that it exists in two versions. The later version has an additional story/chapter in it that sort of closes things off (I believe it was written well after the original publication). Either version is a good read.


It says it has “the final CITY story: Epilog”, so I hope they are referring to the additional story/chapter you mentioned? Otherwise I’m gonna be really confused when I finish it!


If you have the later verson it will have nine chapters and have been published post 1973. My eight chapter, 1971 edition, has the last chapter title as “VIII The Simple Way”.


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Hi, I came across a link at SF Experience challenge. This intrigues me because like you, I’m not nearly as well read in older sf as I’d like to think.

Do they have to be “vintage” editions or are we simply going by when stuff was originally published? I might have a few likely suspects lurking in my bookshelves but they’re all mostly reprints.


Hi Julia,

of course they don’t have to be the original printings, any printing is just fine. Reprints are just fine, probably better in fact, all most of my super old stuff is musty and moldy and stinky. Read something that was originally written before ’79 and you’re all good.

So happy to have you along!


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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.
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