cover image Ares Express

Ares Express

Ian McDonald, . . Pyr, $16 (389pp) ISBN 978-1-61614-197-4

Hugo-winner McDonald’s virtues have long been underappreciated by major North American publishers, which may be why it took nine years for this sequel to 1988’s Desolation Road to make it from the U.K. to the U.S. Dissatisfaction over an arranged marriage and an ill-considered act of charity sends Sweetness Octave Glorious Honey-Bun Asiim Engineer 12th away from the train that was her home and into an epic journey across a terraformed far-future Mars. Sweetness’s efforts to recover her twin sister’s ghost from glib religious con man Devastation Harx entangle her in a conflict that spans time and multiple realities. McDonald’s fantastic Mars is vividly detailed and owes much to Bradbury’s Martian stories. Despite a bit of hand waving around technology that is glibly indistinguishable from magic, this sequel is entirely worthy of its rightly lauded predecessor. (Apr.)