cover image The Martians

The Martians

Kim Stanley Robinson. Spectra Books, $24.95 (352pp) ISBN 978-0-553-80117-0

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 system--a 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.)