the Little Red Reviewer

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If you could ask your great grandparents what their life was like when they were growing up, you would, right?

If you could go back in time and see what your country and your family were like before social media took over the universe, you’d be interesting in seeing what the world was like, right?

 

This January,  you can.  This January, I invite you to travel through time with me.  Travel into the past,  look into the youthful eyes of your great grandparents. See what came before so we could have what we have now.

Ok, maybe not time travel exactly. . .  but sort of.

 

Everything comes from somewhere. You came from your parents, duh.  But who are the parents of your favorite science fiction books? I’ll tell you:  the parents of your favorite science fiction books are the books that author read to be inspired and to dream.  And those books have parents too.  If you don’t like me using the word “book parents” here, how about “the author’s influences”?  Something they were influenced and inspired by to create something new and modern.

By reading older fiction, you get to see how that fiction progressed to get to where it is today. You get to experience the family tree, as it were, of speculative fiction.

To learn more, click on “Vintage Sci-Fi Not-A-Challenge” tab up top.  This is not a reading challenge. You do not have to do anything.  You can read one book or ten. You can listen to a radio broadcast, you can watch and old movie or old TV shows.  You can post a comment, a few sentences, a full on book review, a video blog post, you can just lurk if you want.  There is one rule:  what you read/listen to/view/ discuss should be older than me.  If it was born before 1979 it’s fair game for Vintage Month.

I’ll be posting again about Vintage Month in December, but in the meantime, help get the word out, because like every party the more the merrier.  I’m taking a break from social media for a little while,  so have fun talking about Vintage Month on twitter by using #VintageSciFi and #VintageSciFiMonth, and following @VintageSciFi_  (don’t forget the Underscore at the end!), which is run by the amazing and enthusiastic Jacob at Red Star Reviews.  If you’re on other social media feel free to chat about it there too.

an you believe 2017 will be the 6th year of Vintage Month???  I can’t!

It’s Red Alert for the Interstellar Patrol.  Are you ready to take a trip back in time?

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Where do “it’s Monday what are you reading?” memes and Scifi Month intersect?  Right here, with this fun little questionnaire!

 

  1. What scifi book(s)  are you reading?
  2. What about this book is most enjoyable?
  3. what Scifi book(s) did you most recently finish reading?
  4. have you ever read anything by these authors before? Would you read more from them?

 

I’ll go first.

the-narrator-cisco

I’m currently reading The Narrator by Michael Cisco.  It’s very atmospheric and poetic, a joy to read.  It feels a little like Sofia Samatar meets Gene Wolfe by way of China Mieville. So yes, enjoying it very much!!  I recently finished Fix by Ferrett Steinmetz and Willful Child by Steven Erickson.   The Steinmetz is the final book in his ‘mancy trilogy, and I will happily read anything this man writes. Fix is more urban fantasy you say? Maybe, but it sure does have science fiction elements to it as well!  Willful Child was fun enough once I got into it, so I might read the sequel.

fix-steinmetz

 

willful-child

I’ve really struggled with the blog in the last year. Fewer posts, fewer book reviews.  You’ve noticed.

and NO, this is NOT a “I’m retiring as a blogger!” post. Although it is a very long, rambling post.

This is a post about how I figured out why I was struggling with the blog. It’s easy to know what’s going on. A little harder to know why something is going on.

Here’s the what:

I’d read a book, I’d enjoy the book, I’d have plans to write a review.  I’d sit down at my computer, or sit to write some notes longhand, and nothing would happen.  I’d have thoughts about the book, I’d have things I wanted to say, but I absolutely did not care about saying those things. I was completely apathetic. I’d play candy crush for hours, watch cartoons, bingewatch whatever on Netflix, read cooking blogs. Three hours later, it’s the middle of the night, and I haven’t started a book review, or put together interview questions, or comment on anyone else’s blog, or anything. And I didn’t care.

Ya’ll know the spoon theory?  It’s where you have a finite amount of “spoons” to spend on physical and mental energy expenditures. Stressful activities take more spoons. If you have chronic pain, you’ll use a lot of spoons just to get dressed in the morning. The phrase “I haven’t got the spoons” is a polite way of saying participating in whatever activity will cause you to go into an energy deficit, and because #selfcare, it’s best if you don’t schedule that activity.  When it came to blogging, I was out of spoons.  When it came to a lot of things in my life, I was out of spoons.

I know what I write on this blog doesn’t matter. I know none of this counts as “writing” or as anything, really.  But in my mind, I put a lot of energy into this.  I like pretty metaphors, ornamented sentences. I like to write book reviews and other articles that I am proud of.  It’s not art, by a long shot, but I am creating something out of nothing. for the purposes of this particular blog post, let’s call what I do here art.  And art requires mental energy. or at least it does for me.

So, where were all my spoons going?  And was there any way to get them back? And thus, we get to the why.

My first thought was maybe I was depressed.  But I didn’t feel sad, I didn’t feel tired, I had very very few of the checklist things you find on those “do you suffer from depression?” internet quizzes.  What I did have was  anger and frustration, and heightened anxiety because I felt I couldn’t control the anger. I wasn’t depressed, I was Angry with a capital A.

I was angry at things in my life that were frustrating me. Things that made me feel helpless. Things that made me feel like I was bashing my head against a wall. Things I had no control over.  Those things aren’t going to be going away anytime soon, but here’s the thing the anger and anxiety was blinding me to:  I am in full control of how I respond to them.

I heard a great news story on NPR the other day, unfortunately I missed the beginning. It was a woman police officer talking about a time earlier in her career when she had lost control of a situation, it escalated, and the motorist she had pulled over spent the night in jail, and for about 15 minutes she felt like “she’d shown him!”.  But then she said that the moment he made her angry, she had lost control of the situation. And as a police officer, she should never have lost control, she should never have gotten angry, that it was her anger that allowed the situation to escalate. Had she not gotten angry at things this man had said to her, she simply would have kept calm and written him a ticket, and they both would have gone on their way and no one would have ended up in jail that night.

Anger and anxiety did nothing for me but eat my spoons. It took and took and took, and gave me nothing. Because I was so angry, I didn’t have spoons left for art.  Anger and frustration and the resulting anxiety was like a curtain that fell in front of me. I kept thinking if I just tried to create art on that curtain, everything would be fine. What I didn’t realize was the art was behind the curtain. My anger was keeping me from the bloggy art stuff that has brought me so much joy and satisfaction for the last six years.

at last, we come to moment of clarity:

I can have anger or I can have art.

I can realize that I am in control of how I respond to frustrating situations, or I can allow those situations to control me.  Thoughtlessly spending spoons on anger means there are barely any spoons left for art.

 

And you know what?  I’d much rather have art.

 

It’s been about two weeks since I had this little epiphany, and while those frustrating things in my life are still there,  they’ve become noticeably less bothersome.  And when they do reach the bothersome level? I’ll just reread this post, and know that I am in control of them, and not the other way around.

stkv

Every Star Trek fan worth their weight in Romulan Ale remembers Voyager.  So many firsts in this show – first female captain,  first ST adventures solidly outside the Federation,  first crew that wasn’t solid star fleet (or even academy graduates!),   and I’d tell you about some other firsts, but they are late season spoilers so I ain’t telling.  After a wide ranging Star Trek chat with a friend recently, I decided to give the series another go.

 

Voyager originally aired from 1995 until 2001.  I was in high school in 1995 which means I watched the first three seasons religiously, and then who knows after that, because college.  I vaguely know what happens at the end of the series, or at least I think I do, but once I get to the last season I’ll be coming across episodes I’ve never seen before.

st-voyager-season-1

Like all Star Trek shows, Voyager has great episodes, good episodes, and downright boring episodes.  I’m using the Watch/Skip guide over at Liz Tells Frank so I can skip the boring episodes. In her spoiler-free rundown of each season, Liz lets you know which episodes are must watch for the over arching story line, and which can be skipped. Netflix numbers the 2-part pilot as 1 full episode, and Liz numbers the pilot as 2 episodes, so the numbering is off if you watch on Netflix, but the episode titles are correct. Here are my thoughts on the Season 1 episodes I’ve watched so far.

Read the rest of this entry »

I owe ya’ll reviews for Kevin Hearne’s The Purloined Poodle (it was so adorkable! I loved it!) and Greg Bear’s Darwin’s Children (what a disappointment!).  While I was finishing those books up,  the mail man and the UPS guy have been pretty busy bringing me goodies nearly every day this week.  And of course I bought some stuff too.

Currently reading: Territory by Emma Bull

so, what looks good?

shawl-beaulieu

Everfair by Nisi Shawl has been getting a lot of buzz, and Of Sand and Malice Made is a beautiful small format hardcover (this photo doesn’t do either of these books justice, they both have gorgeous cover art!) of prequel stories that take place before his Twelve Kings in Sharakhai.

 

bujold-lansdale

These pretties from Subterranean Press are Penric the Shaman by Lois McMaster Bujold, and Coco Butternut by Joe R. Lansdale.  I’ve got the first novella in the Bujold series, and yes, Coco is a Hap and Leonard story!

 

starlit-wood

I’m ridiculously excited about The Starlit Wood, and anthology of reimagined fairy tales. I seriously got shivers just looking at the table of contents. It’s like all my favorite authors and all their favorite friends got together to have a party full of awesome.  Retold fairy tales? YES PLEASE.  It’s gonna be tough to finish the Emma Bull with this sitting on the kitchen table . . .  and that’s saying something, since she’s a damn good writer.

Read the rest of this entry »

First of all, THANK YOU universe for not spoiling the end of this show for me!

I’m still mad at the guy who spoiled the end of Fullmetal Alchemist for me (wearing my FMA shirts every single weekend was NOT an invitation to spoil the end of me, you asshole!).

Sayid-and-Kate-1-

I’m most of the way through the 2nd season, here are my not too spoilery thoughts. I’ve put them under the break, because i guess there are some mild spoilers, or at least teasers.

Read the rest of this entry »

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We’re all always talking about the first science fiction book we read,  or scifi movies we liked as a kid.  For me,  my love of science fiction was born directly from a childhood fascination with all things science.

 

For me, science and science fiction have always gone hand in hand. If you’re going to go explore the stars, it helps to have an understanding or at least an appreciation of astronomy and physics, right?  Science Fiction is the stories of everything that science makes possible. And with science, everything is possible. My love of science fiction was born through my fascination with Science.  Science made everything possible, science fiction stories are where all those cool things happened.

 

I grew up in the suburbs of Detroit.  My mom would take me to the Cranbrook Science Museum. It was perfect for elementary and middle school aged me – youth friendly exhibits on geology, holograms, physics, astronomy, optical illusions, and more. I’m sure there was grown-up stuff too, but I was a kid, so I went to the kid stuff.I have a vivid memory of being 11 or 12 years old, and getting to go to one of their astronomy events where you could look through the telescope and see the rings of saturn. And I saw the rings, and I felt like I could touch them.  The science of refraction and lenses showed me the rings of Saturn, and in the science fiction stories I was reading, people went to the rings of Saturn.  I was looking at something right out of a science fiction story!  And if the rings of Saturn were attainable through a chunk of glass, couldn’t anything in a science fiction story be attainable, eventually?

Cranbrook Institute of Science. where it all began.

Cranbrook Institute of Science. where it all began.

Around this same time in my life, I was a huge Star Trek the Next Generation viewer.  Dad and I had a standing date to watch the new episodes.  We didn’t have cable TV, so anything new on TV was cool, and getting to hang out with my Dad was extra cool. On that TV show,  science (or at least TV science and technobabble) was applied.  They were doing the things that I only saw through a telescope.  They were doing science (and plenty of other stuff), and science was something that could take you to new amazing worlds.

 

Come on. I was eleven years old.  Any planet they visited on ST:TNG was amazing to me. I didn’t care that it was all tv technobabble and none of the science actually added up. They were taking all the cool science stuff from the museum I went to, and applying it to do really cool things.
Science Fiction is full of hope that one day we will be able to attain what is unattainable today. And  applied science  is what will one day make science fiction a reality.


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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.