the Little Red Reviewer

Posts Tagged ‘Vintage SciFi

By the end of January, it was still just barely light out when I got home from work.   In those dark days, we sure got a lot of Vintage Science Fiction read!

a huge thank you to my fantastic co-host, Red Star Reviews,  who runs the @VintageSciFi_ twitter feed. He also organized a number of discussions groups in Instagram and Twitter, organized the Dune read-along, and organized a watch-along of the 1984 film version of Dune.  Red Star Reviews, you are my organizational hero!   Although I mostly lurked in the read-along conversations, the Watch-Along was buckets of fun. We went over to Every Day Should Be Tuesday’s house, and enjoyed the movie and I got to snuggle with his very bouncy doggie.

 

If you’ve not visited these fine blogs, please take a minute to do so. Discover what they enjoyed for Vintage Science Fiction Month,  who knows what will catch your eye!

 

Red Star Reviews

Every Day Should be Tuesday

Howling Frog Books

Kaedrin

Reviews by Martha’s Bookshelf

My Reader’s Block

Off the TBR

Book Forager

AQ’s Reviews

Planetary Defense Command

Navigating Worlds

PC Bushi

Wiki Fiction

 

Vintage month is always a fun way to start off the year!  Thank you to everyone who wrote a review, commented on a blog post, mentioned something they liked or posted a photo on twitter or instagram, and thank you to everyone on twitter who put up with me  live tweeting Dune.  The older I get, the more I appreciate that scene with Sting.  😉

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Open Road Media is publishing the complete short fiction of Clifford Simak’s short fiction, so far there are twelve volumes. From what I can tell, the first three volumes are available in print, and right now the rest are only e-book.  The short fiction isn’t in chronological order, for example, this first volume, titled I Am Crying All Inside and other stories showcases fiction from as early as 1939’s “Madness from Mars” to “I Had No Head and My Eyes Were Floating Way Up in the Air” that was written in 1973, but hasn’t been actually published until 2015.

 

I bopped around the table of contents in this collection, and read whatever caught my fancy. Some stories really grabbed my attention, and others were great fun, but forgettable.

 

I quite enjoyed “Small Deer”, in which a mathematical genius and an engineer create a time machine, and the engineer goes back to the days of the Dinosaurs. He discovers something horrifying about the history of life on Earth. What he learns is so outlandish, who would possibly believe him?  Can a horror story be gentle? This one is.  I always get a kick out of time travel stories, especially when weird Kage Baker or Ijon Tichy stuff starts happening.

 

“I Am Crying All Inside”, is well worth a read, and deserving of being the title track. What will happen, generations from now, when we’ve all left Earth for somewhere better? What will happen to the people and robots who get left behind? What kind of society will they build? Told from an obsolete robot’s point of view, this poignant story feels a little like the movie Wall-E, only much, much sadder.

 

“Ogres” was a super fun, and super smart story about what a vegetable society might be like. We’ve landed on a planet and are trying to figure out what we can exploit, sort of “Little Fuzzy” style. The intelligent species on this planet are all plants. No bones, no vertebrae, no central nervous system, no wheel, no invention of fire. Lots of telepathy and strange music. Maybe we can export the musical trees!  Nothing is what it seems, and the human explorers eventually figure out something fishy is going on. But what threats could we possibly make that would scare a planet full of trees and vegetables? Hmmm…   I loved the evolutionary ideas in this story, and I got a laugh out loud chuckle out of the end.

 

Usually fun, smart, and gentle, Simak stories always feel timeless. Give him a try if you haven’t.

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Goodness, it’s already January 19th? When did that even happen?  Apparently I am starting out 2018 with terrible time management skills.

Thank you to everyone is who participating in Vintage Science Fiction month, I hope you’ve taken an opportunity to pick up an author you’ve never read before, a title you’ve never read before, or even used this month as a time to revisit your favorite classics.  This year’s Vintage Month has been a little on the quiet side, and you know what? I am a 110% OK with that.

If you’re interested in exploring Vintage Science Fiction titles, and seeing what your friends are up to, these links are for you!

 

The Howling Frog has been enjoying some excellent Leigh Brackett novels, reviewing The Reavers of Skaith, The Hounds of Skaith, and The Ginger Star. (If the name Leigh Brackett rings a bell it’s because her Eric John Stark adventures are awesome, and oh yeah, she was one of the screenwriters for  The Empire Strikes Back.)

 

My Reader’s Block read a buffet of short fiction in the 1966 edition of World’s Best Science Fiction, which included work by Simak, Fritz,  Niven, Saberhagen, all the rock stars of that decade along with names she didn’t recognize. She gives a run down of every story, what a great snapshot of the Science Fiction short fiction of ’66!   Not exactly Vintage, but filled with classic Star Trek injokes, she also had some fun with the new illustrated book Search For Spock.

 

Every Day Should be Tuesday gave five stars to Andre Norton’s The Beast Master.  This is an excellently written review, with tidbits from what may have inspired portions of the book and what this book went on to influence. Norton is one of my favorite classic authors, I get a kick out of seeing her work still being enjoyed!

 

Bookforager enjoyed The Continuous Katherine Mortenhoe by D.G. Compton. Written in the mid-70s, this novel is character driven, has touches of the upcoming cyberpunk trend,  features a middle aged female protagonist, and a surprise reveal.  I’m not familiar with Compton’s work, but after reading this review, I need to track down a copy of this book!

 

Kaedrin read Larry Niven’s classic Ringworld,  which I like to think of as the novel that launched a thousand ideas, books, spin-offs, and video games.  I don’t know about you, but I know I take for granted how much of an influence Ringworld has had on contemporary scifi ideas.

 

There is a lot of general Vintage Science Fiction chatter happening on twitter, follow @VintageSciFiMonth_ or #VintageSciFiMonth to hop into the conversation!

 

As for me, I’m reading quicker than I have time to review! I’m currently enjoying a volume of Clifford Simak short fiction. Mostly written between 1940 and 1960,  his ideas are far ahead of their time – there is a time travel story in here that screams “The Company”, there is a story about vegetable intelligence that I’d love to discuss with an evolutionary biologist, there is a terrifying theory about how the dinosaurs were really wiped out, and it’s all just so damn readable!

 

Whatever book you pick up this weekend, be it Vintage or not, be it a new-to-you author or not, I wish you reading enjoyment and relaxation!

 

 

Sorry about the radio silence, it’s been a long week!   I haven’t written formal reviews for these books, but here’s what I’ve been reading recently for Vintage Science Fiction month!

 

The Stars My Destination by Alfred Bester (1957) – I’ve been meaning to read this forever. It’s one of those books that can spark never ending conversations, in a good way! It’s a sort of space opera version of The Count of Monte Cristo.  Gully Foyle is just a regular guy, and he gets marooned in space, the only survivor of a nearly destroyed ship.  A ship comes to salvage, and sees Foyle. But instead of rescuing him, the ship leaves. Foyle vows to find the people who left him behind, and destroy them.    Things I enjoyed about The Stars My Destination included the explanation of how people discovered how to teleport themselves and how teleportation drastically changes how society functions, how Foyle survives a few minutes at a time on the dying ship, his tiger tattoos and the lunatics who tattood him, and I really loved the revelation at the end about WHY certain people want to get their hands on Gully Foyle. The last chapter was absolutely brilliant. Things I didn’t like about this book were basically all of the characters.  Maybe upon reread I’ll connect with the characters more, but I didn’t care for any of them, and I couldn’t buy into Foyle’s insta-relationship with Olivia.

 

9th Annual Year’s Best SF, edited by Judith Merrill (1964) – I’ve been dipping in and out of this anthology. I started with one of my favorite Cordwainer Smith short stories, “Drunkboat”, what a great story! I mean, everything Smith wrote was fantastic!  And then I got laugh out of “Double Standard”, by Frederic Brown. Told from the point of view of  a person who lives inside a television set, who acts towards the window, and wonders about the people he sees on the other side of the window, different people every night. This hilariously rated G story originally appeared in Playboy.  Other fun stories I enjoyed included  “Mrs Pigafetta Swims Well” by R. Bretnor, “Poppa Needs Shorts”, by Walt & Leigh Richmond, and “Ming Vase”, by E.C. Tubb.  I expect to dip into this anthology more, as there are stories by Alfred Bester, Fritz Leiber, and Hal Clement I’d like to read.

 

Starman Jones by Robert Heinlein (1953) – So, I do consider myself a Heinlein fan. And many people list Starman Jones as their favorite Heinlein juvenile. But it fell completely flat for me. Maybe I would have liked it more if I’d read it as a pre-teen? It seems like something a pre-teen could really get into.   The characters felt very flat to me, and Max Jones, the main character, he doesn’t seem to have any personality. Things happen around them, he responds to them in whatever way the story needs, the story moves on. So, the less said about this one, the better.

 

 

Two weeks from today:

If you live in the northern hemisphere the days will finally be getting longer (omg, FINALLY).

Many people will have a stack of things that are destined to be returned for a different size/color/completely different item

I will have already posted my Favorite Books I  Read This Year blog post

we will all be saying “2018 can’t possibly be worse”

Vintage Month readers will be drafting their first Vintage blog posts of the month!!

 

I like to figure out ahead of time what  I’m going to read for Vintage Month. Or, to be more honest, I like to figure out what I plan to read. I rarely am able to get to it all.  This January will be unique, as everything I plan to read are books (and magazines) that people gave me.  These are all items that someone thought “I bet Andrea would like this”.  All of these items have been curated for me by people who care about me.  That makes them extra special!

 

Here’s what my friends knew I’d be interested in:

From my friend Andy comes Starman Jones and A Requiem for Astounding. Starman Jones is one of Andy’s favorite Heinlein juveniles, and it looks like a fun, easy, breezy read.   A Requiem For Astounding is a rare find, written by fan and historian Alva Rogers as a biography of Astounding magazine. I don’t know that I’ll be reading requiem cover to cover, but I’m sure I’ll dabble in it.  I worry I don’t have the context to get everything out of Requiem that Rogers hopes.

 

Just arrived the other day from my friend Richard at Tip the Wink, is among others, Nova by Delany, and the 9th Annual Year’s Best S-F edited by Judith Merrill.  I very much enjoyed Delany’s Babel-17, and Dahlgren looks intimidating, so Nova looks like the perfect book for me.  I’ve enjoyed other anthologies edited by Merrill, so I’m thrilled to pick up anything she edited. I glanced through the TOC to see a number of familiar names, and “Drunkboat”, which is one of my favorite Cordwainer Smith short stories. And this particular little paperback is my favorite kind of paperback – hundreds of onion skin thin pages,  economically tiny print, ultra cheap printing. It is the kind of paperback that screams “I was built to be thrown in your bag, read on the train and handled roughly.  Sneak in a few pages at every opportunity you can”.  Yes I personify and anthropomorphize books. I regret nothing.

My friend Elizabeth sent me these random Analog magazines shortly after  we met.  She is an uncanny reader of people, as the January issue includes a serialized portion of Frank Herbert’s Dune!!  When we get to those chapters in the Dune Read Along over at Red Star Reviews, I’ll be reading it from this magazine. And who knows how the text changed in the editing for the magazine to the editing into a novel?  I get a kick out of the advertisements and editorials in these magazines.  It is weird for me, to be reading these magazine issues so far removed from their context.  the editorials and letters to the editor won’t make any sense, the items that are being advertised no longer exists.   If all goes well, I’ll feel like an anthropologist.

 

That is my January plan!  what’s on your Vintage Plate?

 

 

star-trek-vol-2-bookStar Trek Vol 2, by James Blish

published in 1968

where I got it: purchased used

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Don’t let the title of this book fool you, this is not a novelization of the second Star Trek movie. . . although this little volume is tangentially related to that movie.

I better start from the beginning. Starting in 1967, James Blish started adapting the Star Trek teleplays into short stories, printed as volumes that covered seven or eight tv episodes.  He’d adapt the teleplay before it was edited for television, before it was ever filmed. So the short stories do differ from the tv episode scripts a bit. Also? The short story adaptations skip all the filler junk, you get just the straight up story with none of the stuff needed to fill out a 48 minute tv show. Sometimes that means a tighter story,  sometimes it means the story feels very rushed.

This second volume of teleplay adaptations contains adaptations of the following season one episodes:

Arena

A Taste of Armageddon

Tomorrow is Yesterday

Errand of Mercy

Court Martial

Operation – Annihilate!

The City of the Edge of Forever

Space Seed

Some of you are saying “hey, those two are the famous episodes!” and to that, I respond “yes, they are!”

My favorite thing about these short stories is that they are short. In 13 to 15 pages I get a complete Star Trek adventure.  Sure, the long novels are fun and in depth, but these were fun little Star Trek capsules.   I should talk about the famous ones first, shouldn’t I?

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uncharted-stars-nortonUncharted Stars, by Andre Norton

published in 1969

where I got it: purchased used

 

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My favorite Andre Norton is The Zero Stone.  A fun space adventure story with a scifi twist (and an alien cat!), there’s everything to love about that book. So of course I had to read the sequel, Uncharted Stars.   Taking place shortly after the events of the first book, Murdoc Jern has purchased his own spaceship, now he just needs to find a pilot to fly it. Already down on his luck, Murdoc can barely come up with the docking fees for the ship, let alone money for a pilot’s salary.  Even worse, any pilot he hires might just be a spy for the Patrol.

 

He ends up hiring Ryzk, a man with his own secrets. Why is such a talented pilot wasting away on this backwater planet willing to work for pennies?  A question Murdoc files away for another day, as he is too busy ensuring Eet stays out of sight and keeping Ryzk from knowing the goal of their flight plan is to find the origins of the Zero Stone.

 

Eet knows a lot more about the zero stones than he’s willing to share, but he does share that the stone allows him to shapeshift at will, and that if he concentrates and practices, Murdoc can do it too.   After a while, Murdoc gets half way decent at holding a different face, and tries his new found skills out on Eet, turning the critter back into a normal cat. Miffed  beyond belief, Eet gives Murdoc the silent treatment, and they both realize after a while they are better off friends than enemies. But can Murdoc be trusted with the supreme power of the stone?

 

The plot felt very episodic, with the characters having one adventure after another.  They try to sell gems on a planet, fail and leave;  they visit a secret and famous pirate base, steal a star map and are able to escape;  they rescue an alien archaeologist who is forever in their debt; and other various adventures and escapes. I wonder if this novel is a fix-up of Murdoc and Eet short stories? Because that is what it felt like.  Not to say this is a bad novel, I was just hoping for better because I loved Zero Stone so much.

 

There were quite a few things I did enjoy about Uncharted Stars. It takes place in Norton’s “Forerunner” universe, which includes a whole ton of loosely related novels and short stories. If you’re familiar with any of those stories, you’ll find a ton of easter eggs in Uncharted Stars.  The story also has a really adorable twist  at the end, something I never saw coming but I’m happy it was there.


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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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