the Little Red Reviewer

Posts Tagged ‘vintage

end of the storyThe End of the Story, the Collected Fantasies Vol 1, by Clark Ashton Smith. Edited by Scott Connors and Ron Hilger

This collection published Sept 2015

Where I got it:  rec’d ARC from the publisher (Thanks Nightshade!)









Last summer, I received an advanced reading copy of the new The End of the Story: The Collected Fantasies of Clark Ashton Smith, vol 1, from Nightshade Books.  It’s funny, because these are short stories from the 1930s, yet this is a new printing, with a new introduction, new cover art, etc. It’s lucky this book arrived, as I’ve always heard the name Clark Ashton Smith, but never came across any of his work.


Skimming through the introduction and the table of contents, I quickly learned two things – Clark Ashton Smith is known for cosmic horror and weird fiction, writing in the vein of H.P. Lovecraft; and that most of these stories were blessedly short. Don’t get me wrong, I like a meaty short story, but sometimes a super quick 5 page story, one that’s practically flash fiction, is exactly what fits the bill.  These were short stories I could read half a dozen of before bed, or read one while cooking dinner in between steps of stirring occasionally, and seasoning to taste.


It’s funny reading stories that were written so long ago, and most of these were written between 1925 and 1935.  Just think, in ten years, these stories will be a hundred years old. So, are they dated? Oh completely. But what’s most fascinating to me, is things that readers would have been horrified at (vampires, waking nightmares, succubi, etc) in the late 1920s, most readers today are completely used to.   Do you remember the skinny “Scary Stories to Read in the Dark” books that were popular with the 3rd to 6th grade crowd in the 80s?  Ghost stories,  stories about people’s heads falling off, all rated G, but totally creepy to any nine year old?  This is not an insult, but many of the Clark Ashton Smith stories felt quite a bit like those.  His literary style is a nicer kind of horror in a way – nothing gruesome, nothing squicky.  Many of his “big reveals” are fairly cheesy by today’s standards, such as the man’s visions were all a dream, or the old person relating the scary story disappeared into thin air, and such.  I’d happily give this collection to any ten year old, and not only would it scare the pants off them (in a fun way, I swear!), but they’d learn all sorts of fun new words, like asphodels, psammite, innominable, obloquy, invultuations, and dilatoriness.


So, the stories are dated, the big reveals aren’t at all shocking, but the prose is illuminating, and poetic. Here’s a sample, from the beginning of “The Planet of the Dead”:

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Joining me today is reviewer, blogger, author, photographer, podcaster, and all around nice guy Paul Weimer, to discuss L. Sprague De Camp’s Viagens Interplanetarias series of short stories and novels.

Viagens Interplanetarias

An expat New Yorker that has found himself living in Minnesota for the last 9 years, Paul Weimer has been reading SF and Fantasy for over 30 years and exploring the world of roleplaying games for over 25 years. Besides his regular presence at SF Signal and his chatty presence on Twitter (@Princejvstin)Paul can be found at his own blog, Blog Jvstin Style, a contributor to the Functional Nerds, as a co-host on Skiffy and Fanty, occasional guest on SFF Audio, and many other places on the Internet. Read his story “Newton’s Method” in Tales of Eve, an anthology from Fox Spirit Press.

After World War III in the 1960’s, Earth became Brazilian for a while. The Southern Hemisphere was not as affected by the fallout and damage of the Northern Hemisphere, and so it, led by Brazil, led the world to recovery.

So when Man went to space, and eventually to the stars, the men and women who went to the stars spoke Portuguese. Exploring space and dealing with aliens requires an agency to handle the interactions. And thus, the Viagens Interplanetarias watches the starways.

The Viagens Interplanetarias is the eponymous name of a set of stories and novels written by L. Sprague De Camp. Written primarily in the 1950’s, the Viagens Interplanetarias novels have the virtues of De Camp’s strengths, in a light and fun setting he explored for decades afterwards.

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It’s almost December. you know what that means? that means it’s almost January.  And we all know what that means!

January means the return of Vintage Science Fiction month!

Vintage SF badge

Shiny new stuff is well, shiny and new, and we all love it.   But what came before it?  Your favorite author happened to mention they were inspired by the writing of Jack Vance or H.P. Lovecraft or Andre Norton or James Blish? Aren’t you curious about how your favorite authors put their own spin on the dying earth and chthonic horrors?  To get a little philosophical, by knowing where I came from, I can better see where I stand, and better see where we’ve yet to go.  This January, let’s find out.


As in past years, I’ve arbitrarily decided 1979 is the magic year for determining if something is vintage or not, and as in past years I’ll ask that anyone participating link up their review in the Vintage Science Fiction tab at the top of the page.  This January, blog about a book or a comic book or a movie or a radio show or an author from before 1979 and let me know about it so I can come visit your blog. It’s that easy. Feel free to grab the red spaceship image above, and use it as a badge-y thing.

That’s just the cake.  Here’s the icing:

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When the hell did it get to the end of October? Halloween totally snuck up on me. You know, this is what I get for cancelling my cable TV.  when I had to watch commercials on TV I always knew what time of year it was.  No seasonally appropriate commercials = no clue what time of year it is.  And yes, I do own a calendar. Two of them in fact.

so anyways, I was looking for something appropriately creepy to read for Halloween, and I like my creepy shit on the bizarrely weird side. I know, I’ll read some Lovecraft!  Good thing I found this skinny little volume at a library booksale a while back!  At The Mountains of Madness (1936)  is sure to scare the shit out of me, right? And if I’m still breathing after I finish that one, I’ve got The Shunned House (1924), The Dreams in the Witch-House (1933), and The Statement of Randolph Carter (1919) to keep me up all night, wincing at shadows.
Today I’ll just review At The Mountains of Madness, and I’ll review the others in a different post.

At the Mountains of Madness, originally published in 1936

where I got it: purchased used.












At the Mountains of Madness is told as a flashback by Professor Dyer.  He had been part of a scientific expedition to Antarctica, and he wants to make sure that no one else goes down there because of the horrible things he witnessed. After all these years of silence, he is ready to tell his tale. He goes into a lot of details about the size of the expedition, supplies taken, how they got there, how many airplanes they take, how many members of the expedition are pilots and such. Lovecraft is sort of setting this up as an adventure story, but you immediately know something awful is going to happen. Once settled, the expedition splits up, with Professor Lake taking more than half their planes and supplies to another location, where an amazing mountain range with cube shaped ramparts and huge mummified creatures are found.  Lake reports what he finds and how his autopsy of the creatures is progressing over the wireless, to the growing excitement of Dyer and the other members of the expedition.

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Next year the WorldCon will be in London, at LonCon3.  I’m pretty excited already to get to nominate and vote in the Hugo awards again. . . and then I saw this:

The Retro Hugos

The Retro-Hugos will use the same rules and categories as the current awards. There will be parallel nominating and voting processes. The eligibility for nomination and voting is identical – if you can nominate or vote for the 2014 awards, you can nominate or vote for the 1939 awards.

How cool is that??   And everyone knows what I like to do in January, right? but seriously. do you guys think this is a brilliant idea, or are you like “meh, whatevs”? If you nominate or vote in the Hugo Awards, are you willing to to give speculative fiction written in 1938 the same attention as speculative fiction written in 2013? Can something that was written back then speak to fans today?

For your reading pleasure, the hardworking folks at LonCon3 have put together lists of novels of 1938, short fiction of 1938, dramatic presentations of 1938, Editors, and more.  I imagine (ok, I hope!) that much of the short fiction and novels are available on Project Gutenberg.

I’m pretty geeked about this. Not just because I like reading old stuff, but because I’m curious to see how the fans of today will react to what was considered speculative and cutting edge 75 years ago.

believe it or not, the best gift you can give to a book lover is not more books.

the best gift you can give to a book lover is introducing them to a new bookstore! Seriously, September should be “share your favorite bookstore with a friend who has never been there” month.

On Saturday I went with a good friend to John King Books in Detroit. He’d never been there before, and I keep talking about the place.  I’ve written about this store a few times before, it’s famous in the area for being the largest used bookstore in Michigan.  It’s even got a cameo in Libriomancer, by Jim C. Hines! Mr. King got his start once upon a time as a collector and appraiser of rare books. As the collection grew he needed more and more space. Finally, he bought a four story warehouse and filled it (and I do mean filled!) to the ceiling with books and related paraphernalia. Being down the road from Wayne State University, there is plenty of scholarly material, plus cases and cases of vinyl records, vintage children’s books, postcards, lithographs, and we even saw an antique typewriter.  Did I mention the miles and miles of books? The bookstore is just for regular retail books, his rare book room is by appointment only.

Visiting John King is an adventure, let me tell you! It’s not unlike being in the Cave of Wonders from the Disney version of Aladdin crossed with a Choose your Own Adventure story, you just want to explore, and explore and explore, because who knows what will be around the next corner? We had a blast going through the different floors and enjoying the hand drawn maps and signs. There are milk crates at the end of many aisles filled with more books. There are milk crates in the aisles to use as step stools.  The shelving is basic, the lighting is terrible, the building has no heat or AC. I finally found the bathroom.

I visit John King Books every few months, and unfortunately, their science fiction section was very picked over on this visit.  I was also on a strict budget this time, so stayed away from the new-ish stuff shelves and played the “how much can I get for $20?” game.  I got a few gems, a few weird ones, and other random stuff that jumped out at me!

not a bad haul:

SAM_3520 Read the rest of this entry »

Vintage SF badge
I knew Vintage Month was going to be awesome, but ya’ll broke the mold this time!

20 bloggers posted over 40 reviews and discussions, there were guest posts, a giveaway (which still has a few hours left in it, go win yourself some goodies!), and new bonds formed in the blogging community. Wow people, is there anything we can’t do?  The only bad thing was that there was so much going on I couldn’t keep up with it! I wasn’t even able to comment on all the reviews, and I do apologize for that.

And I couldn’t have done any of this without YOU.  Give yourselves a round of applause for rocking it out AGAIN. Here’s a listing of everyone I know of who participated. If you should be on this list, and aren’t, shout at the top of your lungs in the comments, and I’ll fix it up.

Marvelous tales
Over the Effing Rainbow
Nashville Bookworm
Bitter Tea And Mystery
Coffee Cookies and Chili Peppers
There’s a right broad
Pan Spectrum Analyzer
Two Dudes in an Attic
Lynn’s Book Blog
Impressions of a Reader
Stainess Steel Droppings
The Finch and Pea
You Can Never Have Too Many Books
Ready When You Are, C.B.
Geeky Daddy
Science Fiction and Other Suspect Ruminations
Geek Banter
Dab of Darkness
Science Fiction times

Whether you posted one book review or ten, or did a discussion post or a guest post, or tweeted or retweeted or simply lurked and enjoyed what you saw on other people’s blogs, I give you my heartfelt and sincerest thanks for spending the darkest days of winter with me and being willing to read some crunchy paperbacks by authors we’d never heard of.

I got some totally sweet stuff coming up in February too. A little less in the crunchy-dead-person department, but still, rockin’ cool stuff is heading our way! (also, spring might be heading our way, which is also damn cool)

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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.