the Little Red Reviewer

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Burning Midnight McIntoshBurning Midnight, by Will McIntosh

published February 2016

Where I got it: Received ARC (thanks!)

What if, for a very small fee, you could be better at math? Or could fall asleep easier at night? Or could digest anything? Or had better eyesight? Or could hold your breath a little bit longer? Or any one of a hundred other things that could make your life just the smallest bit easier? Wouldn’t that just be the best?

Thanks to mysterious marble sized orbs that fell from the sky, everyone’s life is a little easier. All you have to do to reap their benefits is find a matching pair and burn them. Burn the slate gray ones for a beautiful singing voice, forest green for enhanced senses, copper to become ambidextrous, chocolate for enhanced strength, and so on. The rarer colors are of course, more expensive, but anyone can afford a common color, or even find the common ones in their own backyards and randomly all over the city. Orbs can only be used once, but the skills they impart last a lifetime.
Teenager David Sullivan, who goes by Sully, had his fifteen minutes of fame when he found a Cherry Red, one of the rarest and most valuable orbs. Young and naive, he was talked into selling it to a famous collector. And then a team of lawyers cheated Sully out of the money. Well, the collector, Alex Holliday, says it was done fair and square. It’s not Holliday’s fault Sully didn’t read the contract through.  It’s an event that’s come to define Sully’s life.
Is there such a thing as a free lunch? Some people feel the orbs are evil, that they are harmful. Some people refuse burn them, yet still buying and selling them to make a living. Sully and his working class friends often burn only the commonest, cheapest orbs. As it is, the little bit of money Sully makes at the flea market barely makes up for the family’s lost income when his mother loses her job. Sully feels protective of his Mom, he’s all she’s got.

But what are the orbs, really? Should we be burning them, willy nilly, with no thought of what it could do to us, long term? Holliday continues to brag about all the colors he’s burned, making speeches and putting his prized orbs on display in his department stores. He reminds me a little of Zachary Quinto’s character in the first season of Heroes, “collecting” every talent he can. Ugggh, I want to punch Holliday in the face.

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I used to call these posts Vintage Science Fiction ’round the Blogosphere, but Vintage SciFi is now on Instagram and Youtube! Wow!  Let’s see what all these fantastic folks have been up to:

Red Star Reviews  gives a great summary of the four authors he focused on for Vintage Month, Frank Herbert, Gordon R Dickson, Joe Haldeman, and Henry Kuttner. I don’t completely understand how Instagram works, but Red Star Reviews has been instrumental in getting a lot of images posted to Instagram. Click here for a fantastic gallery.

on Youtube, Winx and Ink reviews The Martian Chronicles by Ray Bradbury

Booktuber The Space Possum shares her Vintage Book haul

Galactic Journey discusses everything that was new and innovative in 1961 – short fiction from Galaxy and Analog Science Fact and Fiction magazines, films of airships and apes,  and more!

Bev over at My Reader’s Block reviewed The Platypus of Doom by Arthor Byron Cover (that guy’s name rings a bell!) and Imagination Unlimited which collects stories by Bradbury, Sturgeon, May, deCamp, and others

Starbornis a fantastic Andre Norton tribute site

Worlds in Ink went for the Smorgasbord of goodness with the Isaac Asimov Presents The Great SF Stories 25, featuring all the greats from the early 60s

Two Dudes in an Attic offers an in depth discussion of what We Who Are About To by Joanna Russ is, and isn’t.

As always, Science Fiction and Other Suspect Ruminations offers up book reviews, cover art galleries, and discussion of titles such as Irrational Numbers by George Alec Effinger, and the Universe 1 anthology edited by Terry Carr

For those of you who want one stop shopping, Victorian Soul Book Critiques offers reviews of Dawn and Adulthood Rites by Octavia Butler

Lynn’s Book Blog has been showcasing some fantastic (and weird!) cover art from She by H. Rider Haggard, Logan’s Run, The Stepford Wives,  The Moon is a Harsh Mistress, and a review of The War of the Worlds by H.G. Wells. Go let her know which cover arts are your favorite!

Hibernator’s Library discusses The Time Machine by H.G Wells and The Rolling Stones by Robert Heinlein  and is interested in your thoughts

Weighing A Pig Doesn’t Fatten it wasn’t at all impressed with The Santaroga Barrier by Frank Herbert (while I, on the other hand, found this book fun and weird. But I’m a Herbert fangirl.)

The Howling Frog reviews The Left Hand of Darkness by Ursula K. LeGuin


as for myself, I recently read The Last Unicorn by Peter S. Beagle. It was very enjoyable, but i still haven’t gotten around to reviewing it.  If you liked Gaiman’s Stardust, then you’ll like The Last Unicorn. Beagle plays around with language and fairy tale tropes, and “how the story is supposed to go, because that’s how all these types of stories go”.


What of the above books look interesting to you?




I’ve noticed something these last 2 weeks. maybe you’ve noticed the same?


I’ve noticed I didn’t get blog anywhere near as many VintageSciFi posts or book reviews as I’d hoped to.  I planned ahead, read some Vintage books in November and December (Heinlein’s Citizen of the Galaxy and a collection of Clark Ashton Smith stories), kept saying “I’ll write the review next weekend”. And then I never did.  Things came up, I was working, I was tired, whatever, life happens.  I said I’d write them over Christmas. I didn’t. I said I’d write them the first weekend of Janaury. I didn’t.   And now I’m too far away from the reading experience to write the reviews.   And with work going the way it is, and weekend travel coming up, how in the world will i find time to read them again, or *gulp* read something different?


I got really down about it. I was mad at myself at how much I’d been slacking off.  If I’d wanted to write the reviews, I would have found the time, right? Vintage Month is this little party that I started, and now I don’t even bother to show up with blog posts? are you kidding?


I had myself a little pity party on Twitter:

pity party 1-15-16

Among the responses, were these:

pity party responses 1-15-16
I read those, and practically cried.

About 24 hours later, it hit me.  I realized why I’d had such an emotional response to those tweets.


#VintageSciFi month isn’t my party anymore.  Sure, it’s nice if I show up, but it’s big enough that I don’t need to be the host, greeting people at the door, making sure everyone is having a good time, making sure there’s good music playing. I don’t need to be the most vintage-y blogger who ever vintage blogged.  I may have started this little party, but it’s not mine anymore.  It’s yours.  It belongs to everyone who picks up a Vintage SciFi Book, it belongs the bloggers, the tweeters, the instagrammers, the booktubers.


You’ve made it self sustaining!


Will I be able to get some Vintage posts up in the next couple of weeks?

I sure hope so.  But if I don’t, or if I get posts up that aren’t reviews, I’m suddenly OK with that.   And if I get some posts up that *aren’t* Vintage?  I’m Ok with that.  As it happens, I’ve got this early review of Robert Jackson Bennett’s City of Blades that really need to go live . . otherwise it would’t be an early review, now would it?


Read on my #VintageSciFi friends, read on!

It’s been a Vintage Science Fiction party all over the interwebs!  Here’s all the reviews I could find, If I missed yours, please add it to the comments or the Vintage SciFi Not a Challenge Tab up top!

Galactic Journey continues his journey through the 1960s with discussion of the January 1961 issue of Fantasy and Science Fiction magazine, The February 1961 issue of Galaxy magazine, and a discussion of a few episodes of The Twilight Zone. Really good stuff here.

Science Fiction and Other Suspect Ruminations has an indepth review of the Carr edited 1971 Universe 1 anthology,  short reviews of works by Harrison, Bishop and Budrys, cover art galleries, and recent acquisitions. Seriously, just bookmark this guy.

Envoy to New Worlds by Keith Laumer at AQ’s Reviews

Martha E reviews short fiction from Budrys, Pohl and Godwin

Fate SF got his review of Simak’s Way Station up before I could post mine

My Reader’s Block reviewed The Purple Cloud  by M.P. Shiel

Lynn’s Book Blog has been posting tons of Vintage cover art for your viewing and discussion pleasure

Greg’s Book Haven offers up his thoughts on A Princess of Mars by Burroughs

Head over to SFSignal to watch the first episode of Ultraman

File 770 has everything you need to know about works eligible for the 1941 Retro Hugos, including free e-books.  Looking to read some Vintage Scifi electronically? This will keep you busy for a while!



We interrupt this weekends’ regularly scheduled Vintage Science Fiction posts so I can talk about ConFusion  (and tomorrow, not-my review of Star Wars: The Force Awakens). For over 40 years, ConFusion has been home to Metro Detroit’s geek culture and mid-west authors. What was once your standard small scale regional scifi-fantasy convention has turned into a 1000+ plus fans with over 100 industry professionals including authors, editors, agents, artists, and more.


Really, ConFusion is freaking awesome.  You should go.  Because driving to Detroit in January is totally a thing now.  Like fezzes, but, like, cool.


fezzes are cool

Also?  i have a panel schedule!  And there will be silly cosplay!

Here’s my panel schedule:

Friday 5:00:00 PM Reacting to Fiction in Public
Book discussion today, predominantly online, has created a new phenomenon of public reaction. Whether it’s love of a work or the opposite, this public reaction has become a performance all its own. Does this new paradigm create a culture where perspectives that deviate from those with the most social capital are no longer valid?
Patrick Nielsen Hayden, Susan Dennard, Andrea Johnson, Amal El-Mohtar, Greg van Eekhout

Saturday 2:00:00 PM The Art of the Review
What makes the difference between a workmanlike review that tells us what we need to know, and a review which becomes a text worth studying in its own right? Under what circumstances does a review transcend its immediate subject, and become part of the wider conversation about genre? Who are reviews for: readers, authors, industry, other reviewers? How do authors go about getting more of them?
Andrea Johnson, Justin Landon, Amal El-Mohtar, Jenny Thurman, Sarah Gibbons

Saturday 4:00:00 PM SFF MadLibs
Audience members contribute nouns, verbs, and adjectives to fill in the lines in SFF MadLibs written by our panelists. Hilarity ensues.
Angie Rush, Andrea Johnson, Jackie Morgan, Mark Oshiro, Alex Kourvo

Sunday 1:00:00 PM A Blogger’s Conundrum
Ten years ago, blog became a predominant form of online communication, with energetic comment sections and regular, if sometimes half cocked, updates. Today, many blogs have shuttered and conversations have shifted to social media, while blog writing has become increasingly professionalized. Discuss how the science fiction and fantasy book blog remains relevant and what it might look like in the future.
Andrea Johnson, Jackie Morgan, Dave Robison, Natalie Luhrs, Alex Kourvo

I suspect that most of my Friday panel I’ll be mumbling something along the lines of OMGImatthesametableasPatrickNielsenHaydenOMG.

High Five to whoever put my schedule together, I get finished with paneling just in time for BarCon.

Vintage SF badge


it’s astounding
the science fiction,vintage scifi photo
that we, love to read.
so grab a book
something that’s much older


hopefully there’s no mold.
I’ve got all these books from way back
authors who started a trend.
they might be old fashioned,Andy Vintage letter pg 4

things were different, back then.

Let’s read Vintage again!
Let’s read Vintage again!

it’s fun with the classics,
do they age like that fine wine?

with your hands on a book
from before nineteen seventy nine.

it’s the space opera oldies
that makes you love these kinds of booksBest of Hal Clement
Let’s read Vintage again!
Let’s read Vintage again!

it’s so dreamy
sci-fantasy read me!
Verne, Clarke and Norton
and Asimov.
in another dimension
with interstellar intention!
well caffienated, I’ll read all.

With a bit of a mind flip
You’re into a time slip
Old books won’t ever be the same.
Maybe on a space station
or a fantasy incantation

Let’s read Vintage again!
Let’s read Vintage again!


no ear-worm yet? Let me help you with that.

no ear-worm yet? Let me help you with that.



And no, this  blog post isn’t a drunken prank.  Every January for the last few years I’ve read older science fiction and fantasy.  Older books, older TV shows, older movies.  It’s neat to see how things were back then, and how they are now, you know? click here for more info.


I’ve been binge watching Parks and Recreation lately. I’m not usually one for the standard sitcom, but I really like Amy Poehler. And apparently I really like the guy who plays Ron Swanson. And I think I’m developing a crush on Aubrey Plaza. Parks and Rec is the perfect show for when my brain is fried after a crazy day at work. It’s funny, I like the characters, it’s got a long running story arc, characters change and grow. Amy Poehler’s Leslie Knope is so cheerful and positive, that if I knew her in real life I’d probably want to punch her. But on TV, I want to root for her. I want things to go well for her. Also, “Knope” is the best sitcom name, ever.


If you don’t know this show, it’s a mockumentary of a Parks and Rec department in a small Indiana town. Small town politics, office comedy, romantic comedy, weird bosses, awkward relationships, crazy ex-wives, semi-homeless guys, and lots of genius writing.  there are very few bad episodes of this show.


I’ve been watching a few episodes here and there for maybe 6 months, and I’m currently most of the way into  season three.  A while back, while channel surfing at a hotel, I got a season 6 episode, and found out that Leslie and Ben become a couple. So ever since Ben of the awesome  hair showed up somewhere near the end of season two, I’ve been waiting for those two to start dating. But, of course they can’t, because Ben’s boss Chris (Rob Lowe, in what is literally, my favorite part he’s played, ever) forbids people who work for each other to date. And technically, Leslie works for Ben, since he oversees the budget of her dept.  But, oh my god, the sexual tension between those two.  It’s as unbearable as it is adorkable. They obviously like each other, but neither of them want to break any rules, and they both don’t seem to realize that the other one likes them too (wow,that was a grammar fail!). Knowing that they get together later makes all this waiting for them to hook up even harder to bear! I read somewhere that ladies like plot-heavy and fore-play heavy porn, and dudes prefer porn that gets right to the sex.  Whatever network originally ran this show, did they realize the sexual tension between Ben and Leslie was basically  porn for women?  Because it is.

That is some David Tennant 10th Doctor epic hair.

That is some epic David Tennant 10th Doctor hair.

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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.