Vintage Science Fiction Review Digest #1

Happy New Year everyone!

 

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It’s January 2019, the Year of the Wild Boar, and it’s time for some vintage science fiction.  As mentioned earlier, I’m joining the Little Red Reviewer’s “not-a-challenge” of VintageSciFiMonth.

I’ve started reading Fritz Leiber’s 1958 Hugo Award-winner The Big Time.

“Have you ever worried about your memory, because it doesn’t seem to recall exactly the same past from one day to the next? Have you ever thought that the whole universe might be a crazy, mixed-up dream? If you have, then you’ve had hints of the Change War.”

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I only managed to read a couple of “vintage” SF stories in 2018 so I’m going to make an effort to read more this year.

I’ve been looking through my older reviews starting from 2016 and have found quite a few books that fall under this category. In fact I am amazed at just how many vintage books I read and reviewed in 2016. You can tell how enthusiastic I was back then at getting this blog off the ground. So, without further ado, here are the Vintage Science Fiction and Fantasy stories I read and reviewed in 2016: Continue reading

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Where Late the Sweet Birds Sang (1976) by Kate Wilhelm

“I’m going to dissect your every thought, your every wish, every dream. I’m going to find out what happened to you, what made you separate yourself from your sisters, what made you decide to become an individual, and when I find out we’ll know how never to allow it to happen again.” (p.122)

51pl9fv9u8l-_sx331_bo1204203200_The story begins as civilization is on the verge of collapse. The causes, pollution, disease and climate change, are briefly touched on by the author but she keeps them in the background. Instead, her focus falls on one extended family, the Sumners, and their attempts to survive. They have wealth and education on their side. Their isolated setting near the Appalachian Mountains of Virginia shields them from the worst of the global meltdown until a problem develops with their livestock. They are found to be infertile. When this infertility spreads to the people, the end really does seem nigh. Facing extinction, some of the survivors begin experiments in cloning, first on animals then later on themselves.

Kate Wilhelm’s dystopian novel on cloning won both the Hugo and Locus Awards for Best Novel in 1977. The title of the book is a quotation from William Shakespeare’s Sonnet 73. This sonnet focuses on the theme of old age:

                      That time of year thou mayst in me behold
                       When yellow leaves, or none, or few, do hang
                       Upon those boughs which shake against the cold,
                      Bare ruin’d choirs, where late the sweet birds sang.
                                                                                            (The first four lines of Sonnet 73)

  Continue reading