the Little Red Reviewer

Kicking off the Vintage SciFi Not-a-challenge!

Posted on: January 1, 2012

Welcome to the year 2012!  and Welcome to the Vintage Science Fiction not-a-challenge month!   There’s a new tab up top for you to link to your reviews and discussions in the comments. The badge on the sidebar is clickable to that page as well.

During the next 31 days, I’ll be reviewing vintage science fiction books and the authors who wrote them, along with the occasional futurehistory predictions of Arthur C Clarke as essayed in his Profiles of the Future, original publication date 1963.

To get into the mood, let’s dive right into Clarke’s predictions. This little gem of a book offers an introduction followed by seventeen essays and a time line. The book is dedicated to Hugo Gernsback, “who thought of everything”. Yes, that Hugo Gernsback. And Bantam had a “Science and Mathematics” imprint? Sweet!  Here’s a taste of Riding on Air, and You Can’t Get There From Here.

Riding on Air

Or as I liked to call this essay “where we’re going, we don’t need roads”.  Clarke takes the already existing hovercraft, sometimes called aircars or Ground Effect Machines (GEMs), to the utmost of the available technology. At it’s most basic, a GEM is a fan aimed towards the floor, with the air aimed further by the sides of a downward facing saucer.  Able to carry immense loads, but taking immense amounts of energy, Clarke invisions a future devoid of petroleum, where perhaps our vehicle energy comes from some sort of battery.  Glossing over energy requirements, Clarke goes on to discuss how paved highways would be a thing of the past, as hovercraft don’t make any contact with the ground, so simply need a path free of most obstacles. Port cities too, would lose their appeal, as hovercraft could go from the ocean right onto the beach, and even further inland.

Horrible mileage aside, it’s too bad hovercraft didn’t, no pun intended, take off.

You Can’t Get There From Here

Why are we so obsessed with going to outerspace?  Why not be more interested in what lies below our very feet, down below the mantle of the Earth?  Thanks to the physics of pressure, digging down more than a few miles has proven near impossible. Humans can’t survive the pressure of the deep ocean, and even liquid filled digging “moles” have a limit to the pressures they can survive.  What we need is practice in environments of crushingly high pressure. Environments like, say, Jupiter.  Or maybe Venus, or even the Sun.  It sounds counter-intuitive, but it’s probably easier for us to get to Jupiter or the Sun than it is for us to get to the center of our own Earth. If we can learn to survive those pressures (I say “we”, when of course it would be an unmanned probe), then we are many steps closer to learning more about the center of our own planet.

What’s up next? Jack Vance and H. Beam Piper, of course!


8 Responses to "Kicking off the Vintage SciFi Not-a-challenge!"

Congrats on kicking off the Vintage SF Challenge! My dad gave me his old SF collection some years ago and I read a few of them. Most of the female characters were designated kitchen space as their realm of expertise. But it was fascinating ready the stories published before man made it to the moon. Stuff that I grew up knowing as basic facts (born 78), was still just theory then.


Yay! I have The Time Machine all ready to read starting today and have been looking forward to it. I’m curious to see what it is really like, I’ve heard mixed opinions but am keeping an open mind.


I’m starting off the month with a Foundation re-read.

I look forward to your reviews and reading as much Vintage Scifi as I can this month as well.


Looking forward to it 🙂


Yay!!! Our science fiction non-challenges are the thing I’ve been looking most forward to in 2012. I like your idea of the tab for reviews, I think I may steal your idea next time I host an even like this.

Asimov will be my first foray into the “vintage” as I’ve already begun foundation, and I have several older short story collections that I look forward to dipping into. I think I may also participate in the 2012 Sci-Fi Reader Challenge since it goes all year long.

When I was a kid I certainly thought we would have flying cars by now. Then I watch movies like Fifth Element or Attack of the Clones and realize that they only way this would be safe is if the cars flew themselves because we can’t handle regular traffic, think of if we had no clear boundaries as to where we should be “driving”?!?


“think of if we had no clear boundaries as to where we should be “driving”?!?” Clarke mentions that, almost exactly. His joke is that the most popular ticket written wouldn’t be for speeding, it would be for trespassing.

I’ve been looking forward to both this, and your SciFi Experience since the summer! The tab is because I’m far too lazy to figure out any other way of doing it.


How fun! This was an interesting post — -and I’m looking forward to reading more!


I look forward to your reviews!


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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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