cover image Old Venus

Old Venus

Edited by George R.R. Martin and Gardner Dozois. Bantam, $30 (608p) ISBN 978-0-345-53728-7

Veteran editors Martin and Dozois (Old Mars) assemble an entertaining array of SF stories recalling the heady days of the pulps while exploring provocative themes of alienation, morality, and discovery. The stories range widely in tone: there’s a Wild West vibe to Lavie Tidhar’s “The Drowned Celestial”; Mike Resnick’s “The Godstone of Venus” is straightforwardly nostalgic; Ian McDonald’s “Botanica Veneris: Thirteen Papercuts by Ida Countess Rathangan” is a neo-Victorian traveler’s tale; and Matthew Hughes’s “Greeves and the Evening Star” is a droll Wodehouse pastiche. Eco-disasters and technical catastrophes drive protagonists to dire straits in Gwyneth Jones’s “A Planet Called Desire” and Elizabeth Bear’s “The Heart’s Filthy Lesson,” while rescue missions reveal the dark extremes of human behavior in Allen M. Steele’s “Frogheads” and Garth Nix’s “By Frogsled and Lizardback to Outcast Venusian Lepers.” Martin and Dozois celebrate past imaginings of Venus with unlikely—but entertaining and thoughtful—new notions of the second planet as a land of gritty challenge and exotic adventure. (Mar.)