Focus on Vintage Sci Fi Month : “If you liked that, you’ll probably like this”. #VintageSciFi

“You don’t have to burn books to destroy a culture. Just get people to stop reading.” Ray Bradbury 

Vintage Sci-Fi Month.jpgVintage sci fi is a month long, none challenge, event that takes place every January to celebrate, read and discuss science fiction.  This event is the creation of Andrea at the Little Red Reviewer who fostered the notion of getting people to read and discuss some of the older books that are already out there.

Science Fiction isn’t my comfort zone to be honest but thanks to this event over the past few years I’ve now read and loved quite a number of sci fi classics that I would otherwise have missed.  The only real criteria is to read and discuss during the month of January and for the books to be published on or before 1979.

If, like me, you need a bit of guidance about what type of book might suit you then you’re going to love today’s post.  Andrea is visiting my blog today to talk about books – and the whole gist of the post is ‘if you like ‘x’ then you might like ‘y’.  Some great advice in this piece – read on and prepare to discover some potential reads for this event in January 2020.

Firstly, hello Andrea.

I’m excited to read on so without further ado let’s get straight to it….

“If you liked that, you’ll probably like this”.

‘I learned a wonderful little trick a few years ago, about giving people book recommendations.  I was on a small panel at a local science fiction convention, and the panelists were book reviewers, book bloggers, book sellers. And we were supposed to be recommending books to the audience. An audience member would say something like “Recommend me a good fantasy book”, and us panelists were supposed to offer titles that we thought the person would like.

Some panelists just responded with their favourite titles.

One of the panelists, she worked at a bookstore (and I wish I remembered her name!), she’d respond to every request for a recommendation with a question of her own, asking something like “tell me what you enjoyed most about the last few books that you read”.  She was trying to tease out if the person was looking for an action story, or a family story, or epic fantasy or first contact or a love triangle or magic or urban fantasy or a long running series or a stand alone, or whatever.

I have no idea what that panelist’s favorite books were, because she never said.  Once she’d had her short back and forth with the audience member, she’d say “well, you’ve let me know that you like such and such, and this other thing, and that you prefer book that have XYZ, and knowing that, I think you’d love such and such author”.  I was in awe.

While the listing below does include many of my favorites, I have done my best to emulate the panelist whose name I never got, the woman who taught me how to make “give me a book recommendation!” about the person who was asking, and not about me.

Here is the Vintage Science Fiction version of “If you liked that, you’ll probably like this”.

If you like Han Solo,  you’ll like C.L. Moore’s Northwest Smith stories.  Smith is a pilot and smuggler, who has friends in every port. Always up for an adventure, he does make terrible decisions from time to time, but always with good intentions and usually a trusty blaster (or a friend with a blaster!) is around to help him out.

Northwestsmith.jpg

If you like Lovecraftian weirdness and/or New Weird or any combination thereof, you’re sure to enjoy C.L. Moore’s Black God’s Kiss.  Hard to believe that story was written in the 1930s!

BlackGods.jpg

If your favorite scene in The Traitor Baru Cormorant was when the economy gets purposely flooded and crashed, you might enjoy Nova  by Samuel Delany.  If you more enjoyed the conversations on the economics of colonization, A City in the North  by Marta Randall might be exactly what you’re looking for.  And speaking of Delany, if you enjoyed the movie Arrival, you’ll probably enjoy Delany’s Babel-17.

Looking for some fantasy adventure?  You’ll probably get a kick out of Leigh Brackett’s Skaith books, and Andre Norton’s Witch World books.

Do you enjoy having conversations about either a plummeting birth rate, or population out control? For the former, give Where Late the Sweet Birds Sang by Kate Wilhelm a read, for the latter track down a copy of The World Inside by Robert Silverberg.

If you loved The Good Place episodes that mentioned The Trolley Problem, you’ll get a kick out of The Cold Equations by Tom Godwin.  Fair warning, reading The Cold Equations will make you want to rewatch season 2 of The Good Place.

ColdEquations.jpg

Enjoy cozy mysteries, but also kinda like the Cylons from new Battlestar Galactica?  Try The Caves of Steel by Isaac Asimov. You’ll have to be forgiving of some truly awful characterization, but the book is worth it to see what how people would react to a robot scare.  If you’ve ever said to yourself “why won’t this stupid machine do I what I tell it to do!”,  Asimov’s I Robot short stories are for you.

Oh, you’re a fan of Scott Lynch’s Lies of Locke Lamora?  Give Fritz Leiber’s Fafhrd and The Gray Mouser stories and/or Harry Harrison’s Stainless Steel Rat books a whirl.

You’ve seen the anime Space Dandy (please, please tell me I didn’t hallucinate that show!) and are looking for something zany, but also more satirical?   What you’re looking for is Stanislaw Lem’s The Star Diaries. 

StarDiaries.jpg

Hard scifi more your thing?  Hal Clement is your guy, and no matter what you pick up of his, you’ll probably enjoy it.

Oh, you prefer your science fiction with a healthy dose of fantasy and mythology? (mayhaps you enjoyed Neil Gaiman’s American Gods?) Give Lord of Light by Roger Zelazny a try.

Lord of Light.jpg

If you enjoyed the TV show Farscape, and enjoy stories with lots of aliens and very few humans, Larry Niven’s Ringworld might work for you.

You want aliens, but not the friendly fuzzy kind, more like Peter Watts style aliens? Definitely read Stanislaw Lem’s Solaris.

Prefer something more epic, more sprawling, more world shattering?  If you’ve not yet read Ursula K. LeGuin’s The Left Hand of Darkness, now is the perfect time to pick it up.

Oh, you meant sprawling, epic Space Opera?  Dune by Frank Herbert.

Space Opera-ish, but shorter and lighter more your thing?  Anything by Cordwainer Smith will scratch that itch.

And if you’d like to cry at the end, try The Moon is a Harsh Mistress by Robert Heinlien.

TheMoon.jpg

The best way to find a Vintage Sci Fi Book that you’re most likely to enjoy is to start with finding a contemporary book you already enjoy. What do you enjoy about that book?  The characters were great? Or there was lots of adventure? Or the dialog had lots of banter? Or there were space battles and aliens? Or maybe incomprehensible aliens but it’s a fun ride?   Start with something you know you enjoy, and go from there.’

 

 

 

 

21 Responses to “Focus on Vintage Sci Fi Month : “If you liked that, you’ll probably like this”. #VintageSciFi”

  1. Rebecca

    This is a really great post! I always hesitate to reach for “classic” sci-fi or fantasy because I’m never sure where to start and this definitely helps.

  2. Mogsy @ BiblioSanctum

    I really should try more vintage sci-fi. I have a shelf full of them after all, pretty much all from my husband’s collection from before we got married. He’s big on the classics!

    • @lynnsbooks

      Perhaps we should both just go for one book in January. Nothing too ambitious – that might be achievable.
      Lynn 😀

  3. bkfrgr

    Great post! I lovelovelove Vintage SciFi Month and already have my stack of reading ready for January 2020 (because you can never be too prepared!) 😀
    Also, Ha! I watched The Trolley Problem episode just the other day, so am off to see how much The Cold Equations costs right now … thank you! *bumbles off humming to self*

    • @lynnsbooks

      I really need to have a good think and see what I fancy reading this time. I think for me the trick is not to be too ambitious.
      Lynn 😀

  4. jessicabookworm

    Although I watch a fair bit of science-fiction, I read little to none! However reading this great post I spotted a description perfect for me: I do enjoy a good cozy mysteries and I loved the Cylons in the new Battlestar Galactica! Which means that The Caves of Steel by Isaac Asimov is recommended for me. I am pretty sure my dad has some Asimov books – I will have to go check them out.

    • @lynnsbooks

      Caves of Steel does sound good and also something of a fit for me. I’m getting ready and planning a couple of books early this year.
      Lynn 😀

  5. maddalena@spaceandsorcery

    Even though I’ve been reading SF for the past few decades, there is a surprising number of book I have not read in your list! The only ones I can claim knowledge of are Dune, The Moon is a Harsh Mistress and the two robot books by Asimov. Maybe I should take a peek at some of the other titles… 🙂

  6. @lynnsbooks

    Can’t read them all after all – but we keep trying.
    Lynn 😀

  7. waytoofantasy

    Amazing post! Leigh Brackett is definitely someone I want to check out. Also Bob Silverberg–one of my friends is a huge fan of his and basically sold me on some of his work but I just haven’t had time to squeeze it in yet.

    • @lynnsbooks

      I know that feeling – squeezing things in that you really like the sound of – it’s tough. Next year I’m aiming for a more balanced tbr! Ahh! Lets see how that works out.
      Lynn 😀

      • waytoofantasy

        Best laid plans and all that lol. I’m hoping to find more balance next year too. I think this year I just took on way too many new releases. But we’ll see how things go, it’s tough not to be greedy when there are so many good books on the horizon!

      • @lynnsbooks

        I know – I keep saying I’m being reasonable and then I see another book… and …. I just want it. I can’t help it. I’m book greedy, it’s actually a condition.
        Lynn 😀

      • waytoofantasy

        I think we must share this condition then lol. 😀

  8. The Sunday Post #14 – Way Too Fantasy

    […] @ Lynn’s Book Blog has a lovely post about vintage sci-fi with some ‘if you like this, try this’ recommendations. I really love this post! Also, I need to read Leigh Brackett. […]

  9. Joachim Boaz

    I find it odd that you’d describe Randall’s A City in the North as about the “economics of civilization.” I mean, yes, there’s exploration of the planet but that’s not its central element or concern.

    • @lynnsbooks

      Hi Joachim, thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment.
      The post in question was a guest post from a fellow blogger prior to a Vintage Sci Fi event that takes place in January. I haven’t actually read A City in the North so couldn’t speak about the themes within the book, but, the post was intended more to give people ideas of books they might like to read during the event and the main idea was not so much a review of any of the books featured so much as an ‘if you like this type of ‘element’ within a book then you might also like ‘x, y and z’. The blogger who wrote the post associated those elements with that particular book and thinks that readers who also enjoy them might like to read that book.
      Lynn 😀

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