The Aethers of Mars
The latest in the Stellar Guild series, which pairs established sci-fi writers with newer talent, features a novella by Flint (the 1632 series) followed by a “long novelette” by Gannon (Fire with Fire
). Both are set in an alternative, steampunk universe in which an ambitious fellow named Cecil Rhodes, after using his interplanetary airships to bomb Johannesburg into oblivion in the Boer Wars, has seized control of Mars. Flint’s “In the Matter of Savinkov” is a mild spy story involving czarist agents who board an airship to Mars in order to eliminate a Socialist-Revolutionary assassin. But who is he? Is he on the ship? Does he even exist? In “White Sand, Red Dust,” Gannon focuses on Conrad von Harrer, a veteran of the Boer Wars, who, in a nod to the 1950 film noir drama D.O.A.
, is on his way to Mars in search of an antidote to the poison he accidentally ingested on Earth. Both stories are solid, if not especially exciting. (May)