the Little Red Reviewer

Archive for the ‘Vintage SciFi’ Category

wow, it’s the end of January already! How did that happen??


As it turned out, the majority of what I read for Vintage Month was published in the 60s and 70s.  I got a taste of New Wave, more psychology studies than I can shake a stick at, our fears of overpopulation, our hopeful expectations of future technology, and science fiction as written through the lens of the Vietnam War.  My focus on that time period was accidental, but i’m happy it worked out that way.
I want to thank everyone who participated in Vintage Science Fiction Month this year. Whether you wrote reviews, did a discussion or a guest post, or simply retweeted something tagged #VintageSciFi that looked interesting, it’s because of YOU that Vintage SciFi Month was a success.

A huge Thank You goes out to:

Vintage SF badgeDrunken Dragon Reviews

Book Haven

Lesley Conner

Uncertain Tales

The Broken  Bullhorn

Andrew Robins (for the guest post AND the loan of the DVDs!)


Bruce Baugh

Battered, Tattered, Yellowed and Creased

Fate SF

Howling Frog Books

Tethyan Books

Dab of Darkness

this is how she fight start

Over the Effing Rainbow

Susan Hated Literature

The Bastard Title

Two Dudes in an Attic

My Reader’s Block

Stainless Steel Droppings

Science Fiction and Other Suspect Ruminations

Science Fiction Times

Lynn’s Book Blog

Nashville Book Worm

RedStar Reviews

The Finch and Pea

Bookishly Witty



vulcan Kathleen SkyVulcan! by Kathleen Sky

published in 1978

where I got it: purchased used










Ahh, Star Trek. I grew up with you, I watched all your spin offs, I learned all about diplomacy and crazy hairstyles from you, I’ve even transferred my school girl crush on Shatner’s Kirk to Vic Mignogna’s Kirk. But in all these years, I’ve never read a Star Trek tie in novel. Until now.  Browsing at a bookstore with some friends,   Vulcan! by Kathleen Sky was pushed into my hands. ok sure, why not?


You know sometimes you just need a fun, brain-candy kind of book? Something that is sure to entertain but doesn’t require your brain to do any back-flips? This was one of the books, and the timing couldn’t have been better, because boy was I in the mood for some easy to read candy.


The premise is that the Neutral Zone between Federation space and Romulan space is shifting, and a solar system that had always been on the Federation side will soon be on the Romulan side. The Enterprise’s mission is to visit the planet and determine if the life forms there are intelligent or not. On the way, they pick up the Federation’s preeminent expert on zenobiology, Dr. Katalya Tremain. Kirk has been warned that she’s got a difficult personality, but he figures he’ll put on the charm, and she’ll be like putty in his hands. Dr. Tremain beams aboard, sees Spock standing in the transporter room, and freaks the hell out.  Apparently “difficult personality” was subtle talk for she’s happily vocal about her bigoted hatred for all Vulcans.

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Today’s guest post is from Lesley Conner. Lesley is one of my go-to people when I have a crazy idea at 4am and need someone to tell me that yes, the idea is crazy, but let’s do it anyway.  Everyone should have a Lesley in their life.


Invasion of the Body Snatchers, on Page and Film

a guest post by Lesley Conner

bio pic Lesley ConnerLesley Conner is a writer, social media editor and marketing leader for Apex Publications, and Managing Editor for Apex Magazine. She spends her days pestering book reviewers, proofreading, wrangling the slush pile, doling out contracts, and chatting about books, writing, and anything else that crosses her mind on the @ApexBookCompany Twitter account. Most of her nights are spent with a good book and a glass of wine. She recently sold her alternative history horror novel, The Weight of Chains, to Sinister Grin Press. It’s slated to be released in early 2015. To find out all her secrets, you can find her on Twitter at @LesleyConner.

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Invasion of the Body Snatchers has become an iconic cultural reference over the years. If things feel off, if people seem to be acting a little strange, whispers of how it must be the pod people from Invasion of the Body Snatchers fly. I smile and bob my head like I know exactly what people mean, and go on with my day. And the thing is, I do know what they mean…. vaguely. In the hazy vision of a giant seed pod popping open and a perfectly formed, adult body emerging to take the place of my friends and neighbors kind of way.

Until recently I hadn’t read Invasion of the Body Snatchers or seen any of three movies that the 1955 novel inspired. I knew the basic premise of the story – we all do – an alien species is taking over Earth by replacing all of the humans with exact replicas grown in giant pods. But beyond that… shrug, I didn’t know.

bodysnatchers book cover

So when the chance came up to do another vintage sci-fi post for Andrea, I decided it was time to find out more, reading both the novel and watching the 1978 version of Invasion of the Body Snatchers so that I could compare and contrast the book to the film. (Why did I pick the 1978 film? Besides the fact that Donald Sutherland, Leonard Nimoy, and Jeff Goldblum were in it? It was available through Netflix streaming. I searched and pushed play. Easy peasy.)
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Space 1999 is a Science Fiction TV show that ran for 2 seasons from 1975 to 1977, and starred Martin Landau and Barbara Bain of Mission Impossible fame, and English-Canadian stage actor Barry Morse.


From a science point of view, the premise of the show is absolutely ridiculous, but from a social science point of view I found a lot of things to be fascinated by.  Moonbase Alpha is a research station on the Moon, whose technicians also periodically check on nuclear waste storage facilities on the far side of the moon.  Radiation has built up, and there is a massive explosion, causing the Moon to get knocked out of orbit and go shooting off through the galaxy.  Ok, that’s the ridiculous. The fascinating is that none of these people are astronauts or explorers.  They are scientists, astronomers,  field technicians, nuclear waste specialists, a handful of shuttle pilots, and the necessary physicians, accountants and bureaucrats needed to support the staff of a science station. They were all expecting to go back to Earth after their however-many-months stint at the station was over, and now they are involuntarily hurtling through the galaxy.  Instantly, we’ve got some interesting psychology going on.

The staff of Moonbase Alpha

The staff of Moonbase Alpha

As the runaway Moon whizzes past planets, they have time to observe and send down shuttles to explore. (offering unlimited opportunity for an adventure of the week/monster of the week television show!) Realizing they may never get back to Earth, they hope to find a planet to settle on. Yes, it is patently ridiculous that the runaway Moon’s random path would take it right past a new planet every few episodes, but just go with it. If you can’t swallow that plot device, you’re not going to make it very far into the series.


If you can get past the silly parts of the show, you’ll find Space 1999 has a Star Trek: Voyager meets Firefly vibe.  You’ll find yourself saying “this is so ridiculous!”, and then really enjoying the show.

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My friend Andy got me hooked on Andre Norton (he’s working on getting me hooked on typewriters, but that’s a different story). Although we see each other all the time and live near each other, we often send letters, cards, and post cards back and forth. Andy types his on one of the many typewriters he owns, and in trade, I send him postcards with nearly illegible handwriting.  Here’s a portion of a letter I recently received from Andy:

(warning: this post is 100% scanned images, so may take a while to load)

Andy Vintage letter pg 6

Andy Vintage letter pg 7Andy Vintage letter pg 4 Read the rest of this entry »

oh, you want some more Vintage Sci Fi?


That’s good, because everyone has been posting Vintage-y reviews like crazy!

Jim over at Science Fiction Times reviewed Walkers on the Sky by David J. Lake and Robert Silverberg’s Gorgon Planet (and i bet he’ll have another one up by the time this post publishes!)

My Reader’s Block reviewed Ten Thousand Light Years From Home, a collection of short stories by James Tiptree, Jr, followed up with a review of Asimov’s Choice: Black Holes & Bug-Eyed Monsters edited by George H. Scithers, which is a collection of short fiction from Asimov’s Science Fiction Magazine.

Greg at Greg’s Book Haven reviewed Ginger Star by Leigh Bracket

Lynn at Lynn’s Book Blog reviewed Edgar Rice Burroughs’ A Princess of Mars (I totally want Woola as a pet) and also Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury

This is how she fight start reviews Cat Country by the Chinese author Lao She

Jean at Howling Frog Books gave Heinlein a try, and reviewed Have Spacesuit, Will Travel, her daughter enjoyed the book too! She followed that review up with Heinlein’s The Puppetmasters (one of my personal favorites!)

Over at Uncertain Tales is an in depth review of The Seeds of Time by John Wyndham

Carl at Stainless Steel Droppings kicked off January with a review of The Stainless Steel Rat Wants You!, followed up with a review of Robert Heinlein’s Assignment in Eternity

Lisa at Over the Effing Rainbow is working her way through Frank Herbert’s Dune for the first time

Joachim Boaz at Science Fiction and Other Suspect Ruminations specializes in science fiction of the vintage variety, and recently posted a review of The Hole In the Zero by M.K. Joseph

The Finch and Pea offers a review of Garrett P. Serviss’ The Second Deluge, along with historical background on the pulp short story magazines of the early 20th century

Two Dudes in an Attic reviewed Med Ship by Murray Leinster, and offers some commentary on how to approach older fiction

babel17 cover open roadBabel-17 by Samuel Delany

published in 1966

where I got it: received review copy from Open Road Media










Samuel Delany wrote Babel-17 when he was in his mid 20s, and in a very short novel he offers up fascinating linguistic theories and applications, compelling characters and social situations, and intergalactic war.  The too long didn’t read version of this review is I absolutely loved Babel-17.  It doesn’t feel dated, Delany’s stylistic experiments paid off, and it’s just a damn gorgeous book to read. Everyone else must have thought so as well, as it was a joint winner for the Nebula Award for best novel, and nominated for a Hugo.


Rydra Wong is a young and intensely talented poet, and her books and poems are known throughout the galaxy. She doubts her own talent, and feels that she only writing what other people have already thought but couldn’t come up with the words for. Recruited by the government for her linguistics talents to decode a message picked up from the invaders, she quickly realizes this isn’t a code, but an entire language, and she soons become desperate to learn the entire thing.  On a mission to both acquire more snippets of the Babel-17 language and learn where it originated, Wong is given a ship and her choice of crewmates.


Nothing about Babel-17 is done or shown in an expected way, and I loved that. When Wong is looking to recruit a crew for her ship, she shops for a pilot at a wrestling match, tries to fix up a broken marriage with help from the morgue, and even recruits few completely discorporate (dead) crewmembers. Weird at first for me, but easy to get used to and hella fun.


My favorite things about the book were the discussions of language and communication, and the character interactions While in discussions with her mentor, Rydra mentions that she only reflects other people’s thoughts, she’s putting words to things they don’t (or feel they don’t) have words for. This is one of my favorite passages about how and why she writes poetry:


“You know what I do? I listen to other people, stumbling about with their half thoughts and half sentences and their clumsy feelings that they can’t express – and it hurts me. So I go home and burnish it and polish it and weld it to a rhythmic frame, make the dull colors gleam, mute the garish artificiality to pastels, so it doesn’t hurt anymore: that’s my poem.”

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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.