is a collection of stories, alternate histories, poems, and even the complete text of a planetary constitution based on Kim Stanley Robinson's award-winning Mars trilogy (composed of Red Mars
, Green Mars
, and Blue Mars
). For those unfamiliar with the series, The Martians from the title are the humans who have colonized and terraformed the Red Planet over the course of several generations. While Robinson told their story at considerable length in his novels, The Martians
fleshes out some of his more interesting characters and also adds depth to their world.
When it's at its best, this collection presents stand-alone stories of life, love, and work on our celestial neighbor, ranging from the tale of an expedition seeking to conquer Olympus Mons in "Green Mars" to a folksy story of friendship and baseball in "Arthur Sternbach Brings the Curveball to Mars." Unfortunately, some of the material here can be tough going for those unfamiliar with Robinson's Mars milieu. For instance, the ending piece, "Purple Mars," is apparently an autobiographical snippet about the day Robinson finished writing the final novel. That's great stuff for someone who has been following the entire Mars saga from beginning to end, but newcomers will probably not know what to make of it.
Still, there is enough material here to interest anyone on the lookout for some good Mars stories. Although Robinson has made his name by writing fat novels that span dozens of generations and characters, in The Martians he proves that he is also adept at shorter pieces. It's a fine if somewhat uneven collection that serves to round out the Mars universe while providing some excellent reading. --Craig E. Engler
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From Publishers Weekly
With a Nebula and two Hugos to its credit, Robinson's monumental Mars trilogy (Red Mars, etc.) is one of the most honored series in the history of science fiction. Having finished the trilogy, however, and gone on to write yet another major novel, Antarctica, Robinson realized that he simply wasn't done with the red planet. There were important episodes in the lives of his major characters that hadn't made it into the novels. There were alternate possibilities that he still yearned to explore. There were pages of essays, vignettes, fables, poems, and fictional science and history, all demanding to be written. This collection represents Robinson's further thoughts on Mars. It encompasses a number of new short stories, including at least two set in alternate universes where events have taken place quite differently than in the novels. Among the best entries are "Coyote Makes Trouble," which concerns a plot to capture one of the planet's leading revolutionaries; "Arthur Sternbach Brings the Curveball to Mars," about the effect of Martian gravity on America's favorite pastime; and "Sexual Dimorphism," which involves a Martian scientist whose work strangely echoes his personal life. Also included is "Green Mars," a previously published novella about climbing Olympus Mons, the highest mountain in the solar systemAa wonderful story that, curiously, has no direct connection to Robinson's later novel of the same name. Some of the pieces here will be of interest only to those who have already read the trilogy, but the finest of the short fiction stands firmly on its own. As is the norm with Robinson's work, the stories are beautifully written, the characters are well developed and the author's passion for ecology manifests on every page. (Sept.)
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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