Tag Archives: Vintage Science Fiction Month

Vintage Science Fiction Month: The Trouble With Tribbles

Vintage Science Fiction Blog Challenge badge. It shows a rocket ship against a red background. There is a bubble city in the background. Vintage Science Fiction month takes place every January, and has a few guidelines:

 – read, watch, listen to, or experience something science fiction / fantasy that was created in 1979 or earlier

 – talk about it online sometime in January

 – have fun

If any of my readers are also interested in participating this month, let Little Red Reviewer know about your posts if you’d like them to be included in her official roundups. 

Today I’m going to be discussing one of my favourite Star Trek: The Original Series episodes, “The Trouble with Tribbles.” It first aired on December 29, 1967 during the second season of this series and does not require any prior knowledge of the Star Trek universe in order to enjoy it.

The last time I blogged about Star Trek, Ruth Feiertag asked me to dedicate entire posts to single Star Trek episodes and to go into much more detail about them in the future. Ruth, I’m following your advice!

Text says The Trouble with Tribbles written by David Gerrold. Image in the background is of the Enterprise from Star Trek: The Original Series. All of the Original series Star Trek episodes are available on Netflix in Canada. I’d recommend watching this episode before checking out the rest of my post unless you don’t mind spoilers from a 50+ year old tv show.

This post is going to mostly consist of a fan talking about something she really liked. There might be a little bit of proper reviewing happening, but definitely not as much as usual.

The Trouble with Tribbles

Episode description:

To protect a space station with a vital grain shipment, Kirk must deal with Federation bureaucrats, a Klingon battle cruiser and a peddler who sells furry, purring, hungry little creatures as pets.

Many Star Trek episodes throughout the years have covered serious, sensitive topics.

And then there are lighthearted episodes that seem to have been written for the sheer fun of it.

Can you guess which category “The Trouble with Tribbles” falls into?

Perhaps showing Uhura cuddling a sweet little tribble will give you another hint.

Nichelle Nichols as Uhura. She's holding a tribble.
Nichelle Nichols as Uhura. She is holding her brand new tribble.

At this point in the series, Uhura and the rest of the crew had faced plenty of dangers. Seeing her cuddle a small, fuzzy, hamster-like creature given to her by a travelling salesman made me smile.

She took her new pet back to the ship and it soon gave birth to a litter of baby tribbles. Thrilled, Uhura gave them away to her coworkers.

Leonard Nimoy as Mr. Spock. He and Uhura are holding tribbles while Captain Kirk (William Shatner) and Ensign Freeman (Paul Baxley) look on.
Sharing the tribbles.

At the same time, The Enterprise happened to be carrying a large load of quadrotriticale grain that was bound for a place called Sherman’s Planet.

It seemed to be a perfectly normal journey until the crew realized the tribbles were reproducing much faster than any hamster or other similar creature on Earth.

Leonard Nimoy as Mr. Spock and and Deforest Spark as Dr. McCoy. They are looking over a table filled with tribbles.
Spock and Dr. McCoy looking over a table filled with tribbles.

The question is, what is going to happen if or when the tribbles discover the grain this ship is carrying?

I’ll leave it up to my readers to discover the answer to this question themselves. What I will say is that I loved seeing all of the characters out of their element. Fighting a scaly monster on an alien planet is one thing.

Figuring out how to deal with a small, fuzzy antagonist that reproduces faster than anyone can imagine and will eat just about anything is quite another.

This is one of those Star Trek episodes that has definitely stood the test of time. The humour in it still felt fresh. Tribbles will cause mischief no matter when or where they show up, and this is even more true for people who have no idea what they’re dealing with.

If you’ve never watched Star Trek, this is a fun place to start. The episode will give you all of the information you need. Feel free to dive in.

If you’re already a fan of it, this is the sort of episode that is somehow even funnier on the second or fifth or twentieth rewatch because of all of the little tells the characters give that they have no idea how to react to these creatures and may just have a long list of antagonists they’d prefer to be dealing with instead.

I can’t recommend it highly enough.

Vintage Science Fiction Month: It’s a Bird

Vintage Science Fiction Blog Challenge badge. It shows a rocket ship against a red background. There is a bubble city in the background. Vintage Science Fiction month takes place every January, and has a few guidelines:

 – read, watch, listen to, or experience something science fiction / fantasy that was created in 1979 or earlier

 – talk about it online sometime in January

 – have fun

If any of my readers are also interested in participating this month, let Little Red Reviewer know about your posts if you’d like them to be included in her official roundups. 

This week I’m going to be talking about “It’s A Bird,” a three-minute, stop-motion animation film from 1930 that featured Charley Bowers and a metal bird that was capable of turning metal scraps into something incredible.

Harold L. Muller was the director of this film. Click here to watch it or check out the embedded version below. It is safe for viewers of all ages.

Caution – Major Spoilers Below

Think about all of the hours of work that went into creating this film! Every single frame of it had to be painstakingly recorded and then stitched together. There weren’t any computers, much less CGI, to make that job easier.

I loved the world building of this film. Charley was just as surprised as the audience was by the existence of a metal bird who ate metal and turned all of those scraps into a beautiful, white egg.

The fact that the egg hatched into a brand new car made me laugh! I was expecting another metal bird to start running around. Honestly, the only thing better than that was the parent-bird’s response when Charley said that he wanted to take the bird and start making a whole factory’s worth of new cars for them to sell.

I might have done the same thing if I were in his shoes. When you find yourself in a surreal situation, why not take it to its logical conclusions?

This is something I would love to see a sequel for. Where are the other metal birds, if they still exist or ever existed? Where did this metal bird come from? At what point does a car evolve into a bird in this universe? Or does every mechanical creature spawn offspring that look nothing at all like itself?

What a fun story it was at any rate. I’m glad I had a chance to blog about it for Vintage Science Fiction month.

Vintage Science Fiction Month: Second Variety by Philip K. Dick

Vintage Science Fiction Blog Challenge badge. It shows a rocket ship against a red background. There is a bubble city in the background. Vintage Science Fiction month takes place every January, and has a few guidelines:

 – read, watch, listen to, or experience something science fiction / fantasy that was created in 1979 or earlier

 – talk about it online sometime in January

 – have fun

If any of my readers are also interested in participating this month, let Little Red Reviewer know about your posts if you’d like them to be included in her official roundups. 

Today I’m going to be blogging about “Second Variety,” a science fiction novelette by Philip K. Dick about what happened to the Earth and the few remaining humans on it after a nuclear war erupted between the Soviet Union and the United Nations.  This tale was originally published in 1953, but many of the themes in it still feel fresh nearly 70 years later.

Click here to read “Second Variety” for free. Everything after this sentence and in the tags of this post contains spoilers for this story, so reader beware! 

Second Variety by Philip K. Dick book cover. Image on cover is of a stylized, human-shaped flame holding the Earth. The first thing that grabbed my imagination when I was reading this tale had to do with the destruction of the natural environment. There was so much devastation everywhere the characters looked.

It briefly reminded me of the massive forest fires currently burning in Australia. Just like in our world, the lion’s share of the suffering was shouldered by innocent living beings – human and otherwise – that were never given a choice in the matter. It was utterly unfair.

While this is a story about war, it’s not a war story. The biggest battles have long-since happened by the time we meet the main characters, and the addition of a new enemy has already thrown both sides off-kilter. The exhaustion of fighting an enemy that never needs to sleep or fulfill other human needs also added a new twist to this post-apocalyptic world.

There were actually times when I felt a little sorry for the robots. Yes, they were attacking humans…but they weren’t the ones responsible for causing such severe environmental damage that Europe and vast swaths of North America were no longer able to grow any food at all. They were just following the orders they’d been given by their creators.

With that being said, I still loved the plot twists involving the robots and what they were capable of doing. They technically weren’t alive, but they sure acted like it. Not only did they repair themselves when broken, they paid close attention to what was left of human culture and looked for any weaknesses they could find and take advantage of. That’s not something I’d normally expect from a robot!

As someone who has read a ton of post-apocalyptic and robotic science fiction, I figured out where this story would probably end up pretty early on. That isn’t a criticism of the piece, though. It wouldn’t surprise me if a lot of other authors were influenced by Mr. Dick’s writing style kind of like modern authors have written things that echo the Harry Potter series or various Margaret Atwood novels.

This repetition and evolution of ideas is common in all genres. It will be interesting to see if any of my fellow scifi fans had the same reaction to this story, especially where the ending is concerned.