In the nearly 35 years since it was published, Tea With the Black Dragon has nearly become a period piece. The book opens in San Francisco, which doesn’t feel too different, but moves down to Silicon Valley, which has changed a lot. The street names are the same, but much else isn’t. Computers have also changed a lot in those years, with the novel showing the pre-IBM PC era of little shops, odd systems, and experimental hobby builders. It also features a person who would fit in easily with the dot-com era, constantly starting small companies with outside investment, which sometimes work, and sometimes don’t.

In many books of this type, the title would be something of a giveaway of a central mystery: Is Mayland Long just a somewhat odd person, or is he something more? But while that is a slight undercurrent for some of the characters, just what he can do is treated in a more offhand way. And though there’s a fuller explanation towards the very end, there’s plenty of points where you’re not given a lot of data.

Overall, the romance between the two main characters as the save the damsel third wheel is the main thread of the book. The crime/mystery that powers the main parts of the plot take over for the middle of the book, and things get too busy for the main two, but that just allows them time to be sure of how much they’ve grown fond of the other.

Sadly, the Open Road Kindle edition has completely lost all the scene breaks, leading to some very abrupt transitions. Other than that, the text is in great shape, but they really need to fix that.