the Little Red Reviewer

Posts Tagged ‘Vintage SciFi

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

published in 1968

where I got it: purchased used




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:


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





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.

It’s time for another Blind Date with a Book give away!  but this time, they are all Vintage science fiction books!

I’ll tell you a little about the book, but not the title or the author, and you get to decide if the book is worth a blind date! Here’s how the give away works:

  •  put in the comments what number book(s) you’re interested in. put #1, #2, etc. You can enter for more than one.
  • if WordPress doesn’t prompt you to enter your e-mail address, please give me some way to get a hold of you, such as twitter, e-mail, facebook, or to use  a contact page on your website
  • Give away ends on Friday Jan 27th, with winners being announced shortly thereafter
  • due to the costs of international shipping, unfortunately this is a US only give away. I love you everyone else, I just can’t afford to mail things to you!


Ermagerd I’m such a nerd, I typed up the descriptions on my circa 1940 typewriter.


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The first week of Vintage SciFi Month has flown by, and the reviews and photos and instagrams and comments and twitter conversations are flying in!  Here’s an incomplete round up of blog posts, reviews, give aways, read alongs, and other goodies from the first week of Vintage month:

a review of Transfinite – The Essential A.E. Van Vogt  at Tip the Wink

The Tritonian Ring by L. Sprague de Camp review posted at Castalia House

Mervi’s Book Reviews discusses End of Eternity by Isaac Asimov

Join and catch up with the Dorsai! read along at Red Star Reviews

While you’re over at Red Star Reviews, learn how you can win a copy of The Book of Frank Herbert, a fantastic little collection of Herbert short stories

Ian Sales has a really excellent guest post at Science Fiction and other Suspect Ruminations about scifi writers Leslie Perri, Alice Eleanor Jones, and Sonya Dorman.


Have I missed you?   Click the “Vintage Science Fiction” tab at the top of the screen and ad your link in the comments!

crashing-suns-edmond-hamiltonCrashing Suns by Edmond Hamilton

first published in Weird Tales in 1928

where I got it – Three volume Hamilton set was a gift




That cover art looks familiar, doesn’t it?


Yep,  “Crashing Suns” by Edmond Hamilton is the cover art I screen-grabbed years ago for a Vintage SciFi image. At the time, I had no idea who Edmond Hamilton was, and I was too busy with my own things to start meaningful conversations with people who took a look at the badge I’d photoshopped and said “Hey, I know that book!”.   In my old age, I’m trying to get better.


A few years ago, I was gifted with a gorgeous three volume set of The Collected Works of Edmond Hamilton. The way our living room is set up, this is one of the first things you see displayed on top of the bookshelf when you walk into that room.   The back of the volumes feature cover art of novels, chapbooks, and magazines in which these novels, novellas, and short stories were originally published, and as I was flipping through, I saw artwork that looked mighty familiar to me (because I stole it). So OF COURSE I had to read the story!  The story behind the cover art is “Crashing Suns”, which is Hamilton’s first story in his Interstellar Patrol sequence of interrelated stories.


This was such a fun pulpy story! So many exclamation points, so many characters shouting, so many big bold adjectives. This is a story of big brassy sounds, saturated primary colors, and massive stakes (no there weren’t actually any brassy sounds or primary colors, but that’s my weird brain for you. But there are earth shatteringly large stakes for our heroes). At the beginning of the story, Earth gets news from an observatory that there is a star on a trajectory path towards our sun! And if it reaches here, obviously everyone will die!

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voyage-of-the-space-beagleVoyage of the Space Beagle, by A.E. Van Vogt

published in 1950

where I got it: purchased used




A sci-fantasy, the title of this fix-up novel is a direct reference to Charles Darwin’s Voyage of the Beagle, an exploratory voyage that lasted longer than expected and that hoped to discover and research new and different species and learn more about our natural world. I call it a sci-fantasy, because while there is plenty of science in this story, and the solutions to all their challenges are science derived, there is also a lot of “hand-wavium” that functions as overly simplified technobabble.


The scientist who becomes the main character as the story progresses is Elliott Grosvenor, who is a nexialist scholar. Nexialism is akin to interdisciplinary applied sciences – Grosvenor doesn’t study only chemistry or engineering or physics, he studies all of them, often under hypnosis to learn faster. The use of hypnosis has added an element of the studies of how the human mind works, allowing Grosvenor to both induce and rebel hypnosis and psychic attacks. Nexialism is a new science, and the other scientists aren’t sure what to do with the young Grosvenor. Some of them ignore him, others are outright antagonistic and aim to sabotage his work.  It’s neat how the scientific departments on the Space Beagle have the feel of a university, complete with different labs, work areas, and politics.


What makes this fix-up novel so famous is that one of the novellas, “The  Black Destroyer” is considered an official inspiration for the movie Alien (the screenwriters of the movie never admitted to plagarism, but were happy to quickly settle out of court for a chunk of change), but it’s a little more complicated than that.  “The  Black Destroyer” was first published in 1939 and is considered the beginning of the Golden Age of Science Fiction. The premise of this novella is that The Space Beagle touches down on an abandoned planet, and among the ruins finds a cat-like creature called Coeurl. Assuming Coeurl to be harmless, they allow it access to the ship, where it slowly tries to kill the crew with the intention of taking over the ship and traveling to where more of its food can be found.   Horrible things happen, people die, and the scientists have to come up with some method of tricking the beast which includes a life boat and an airlock.

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Vintage SF badgeHappy New Year!


Ok, so this isn’t EVERYTHING you need to know about how to Vintage SciFi Month, but it’s a pretty good list. Got more tips or questions? Put ’em in the comments, we’ll get ’em answered.

How do I tell everyone about my Vintage book that I did a January blog post about?   Click on the Vintage SciFi not-a-challenge tab at the top of Little Red Reviewer, and in the comments leave a link to your blog post.  If you’re on twitter, tweet a link, and mention @VintageSciFi_ and #VintageScFi.  If you’re on other social media sites, go nuts there too!


I like graphics and badges and banners. Do you have any of that stuff?

Sure!  Grab that red and yellow Vintage image at the top of this blog post and use however you’d like.

What if I want to read reviews of Vintage books that have already been reviewed?  Have I got some resources for you! The Vintage SciFi not-a-challenge tab up top is a running list of a zillion reviews that have been posted in conjunction with Vintage SciFi Month since we started doing this project.

here are some more resources:

Science Fiction and Other Suspect Ruminations – Joachim Boaz offers indepth reviews, commentary, and cover art galleries of everything science fiction you can imagine, focusing on 1930s-1970s. His site is truly incredible.

SF Mistressworks – managed by Ian Sales, SF Mistressworks features reviews of science fiction written by women. Not everything on here is Vintage, but a lot of it is.  Also just an incredible clearing house for book reviews.


Uggh, I bought this old paperback at the used book store, and it smells weird and how do I get this gross sticker off the front?

Not only is Jacob at Red Star Reviews my Vintage co-host, he’s also the master of cleaning up used books! Check out his post on how to safely remove stickers from paperbacks.

Also, if your paperback is kinda stinky, this blog post and the comments may help.


Forget tracking down paper copies and dealing with old musty books, I want to read all my Vintage books on my e-reader.

Technology meets history.  Open Road Media has been publishing a ton of older science fiction as e-books, here’s links to their Clifford Simak, Andre Norton, John Brunner,  and H.G. Wells.  Use their author index to find more.

Project Gutenberg offers a ton of free downloads for material that is no longer under copyright. Here’s a link to their Science Fiction bookshelf. My favorite thing about Project Gutenberg is all the old scifi short story magazines you can download.

I imagine has a bazillion vintage e-books available from other publishers. Many public libraries also have e-books available.


I don’t think I’ll have time to write a review, I don’t like writing reviews, I want to do blog posts that aren’t reviews. Can I still participate?

Of course you can, and we’re happy to have you!  do a blog post of Vintage books that look interesting to you. Do a post that’s nothing but cover art you think is cool.  Do a blog post that links to other people’s Vintage posts.  Comment on posts,  enter a give away, retweet some Vintage tweets, explore some reviews that were written in previous years to learn about new-to-you authors, lurk about as much as you want.  Don’t feel pressured to commit to more time or energy than you can realistically commit to.  Because I’ll tell you right now, January is going to be crazy at work for me, and I am already feeling over committed.




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FTC Stuff

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.