Vintage SciFi Month for 2022 is coming up fast, and I wanted to set out my planned reviews for this event. The great thing about this is its simplicity. You just use the tag #VintageSciFiMonth on Twitter or your blog or Instagram to post anything of interest about science fiction written before your birth year or 1979. It was founded by the Little Red Reviewer back in 2012, I believe, and is still going strong.
Thinking one month ahead, I couldn’t help but add in the rest of the Winter TBR. So this is a longer list, as always, an aspirational one. We’ll see how much I can cover by the end of winter. As always this may change since there are so many more new or at least unread books trying to crowd others off the list. The winter TBR is in no particular order, since I can’t tell ahead of time which books will grab me and which repel when I actually get into them.
For Vintage SciFi Month, I’m starting with Philip K. Dick’s Flow My Tears, The Policeman Said. It’s a novel about surveillance, identity and how all traces of a person’s existence can be erased overnight. No, it’s not about today’s reality but a scifi projection from 1973.
Going much farther back, I’ll be reading the 1921 classic, We by Yevgeny Zamyatin, a novel that inspired Brave New World, 1984 and The Dispossessed. I’ve been wanting to delve into this for a long time, if only to understand the great burst of creativity in post-revolutionary Russia that Stalin suppressed.
In a recent interview, Alastair Reynolds cited End of Eternity (1955) as an especially interesting Isaac Asimov book, much better, in his opinion, than Foundation, so I’m going to give it a try.
I’m going to reread Ursula K. Le Guin’s The Dispossessed, partly because she explores so deeply the problematic contrasts of a capitalist and an anarchist way of organizing society and the fate of a strong individual within each one. Shevek and the two worlds he inhabits are among my favorite science fictional creations.
Going beyond January and Vintage SciFi Month, I have a long list for the TBR. Here are the ones I think I’m most likely to read, including several ARCs from NetGalley. I’ve added a few lines from the publishers to give an idea of what each one is about.
Stars and Bones by Gareth L. Powell: “Seventy-five years from today, the human race has been cast from a dying Earth to wander the stars in a vast fleet of arks—each shaped by its inhabitants into a diverse and fascinating new environment, with its own rules and eccentricities.”
Goliath by Tochi Onyebuchi: “A primal biblical epic flung into the future, Goliath weaves together disparate narratives—a space-dweller looking at New Haven, Connecticut as a chance to reconnect with his spiraling lover; a group of laborers attempting to renew the promises of Earth’s crumbling cities; a journalist attempting to capture the violence of the streets; a marshal trying to solve a kidnapping—into a richly urgent mosaic about race, class, gentrification, and who is allowed to be the hero of any history.”
Dark Theory by Wick Welker: “A robot yearns to remember. A thief struggles to forget. A galaxy on the verge of collapse. A mind-bending science fiction epic with the bones of a fantasy traveling quest, Dark Theory unfolds through a journey of betrayal, identity, and unlikely friendships in a world of darkness set at the edge of space and time.”
Sinopticon: A Celebration of Chinese Science Fiction, edited by Xueting Chistine Ni: “thirteen stories, all translated for the first time into English — represents a unique exploration of the nation’s speculative fiction from the late 20th Century onwards, curated and translated by [a] critically acclaimed writer and essayist”
A Practical Guide to Conquering the World by K. J. Parker: “This is the true story of Aemilius Felix Boioannes the younger, the intended and unintended consequences of his life, the bad stuff he did on purpose, and the good stuff that happened in spite of him. It is, in other words, the tale of a war to end all wars, and the man responsible.”
In the Watchful City by S. Qiouyi Lu: In the tradition of Italo Calvino’s Invisible Cities, debut author S. Qiouyi Lu has written a multifaceted story of borders, power, diaspora, and transformation with In the Watchful City.“
The Book of Phoenix by Nnedi Okorafor: “Phoenix was grown and raised among other genetic experiments in New York’s Tower 7. She is an “accelerated woman”—only two years old but with the body and mind of an adult, Phoenix’s abilities far exceed those of a normal human.”
Leviathan Falls by James S. A. Corey: Having read the previous eight books in this series, I’m not about to skip the ninth. I thought there was a falling off in the seventh and eighth books, but I’m eager to see how things turn out for the intrepid crew of the Rocinante.
Somewhere in the next few months, I’m also going to start posting my own short fiction, a series of inter-related stories set on a planet called Indus.
Have a great new year!