The Empress of Mars
Kage Baker, . . Tor, $25.95 (303pp) ISBN 978-0-7653-1890-9
Baker seamlessly expands her 2004 Hugo and Nebulaâ€“nominated novella of the same title into tale of nonconformist survival. Widow Mary Griffith and her daughters relocate to an oddly anachronistic Mars, a world dominated by the badly run British Arean Company. Declared redundant by BAC, Mary establishes the first bar on Mars, which prevails despite the moralistic disapproval of her former bosses. Her customers are colorful characters who exist at the periphery of Martian society, from shyster Stanford Crosley to would-be â€œspace cowboyâ€ Ottorio Vespucci. Mary's family, friends and neighbors struggle to survive economic setbacks, the inhospitable climate and BAC's hostility to all forms of eccentricity. Though the international politics are sometimes threadbare, Baker's tale of individualists battling enforced conformity is a worthy evolution of her novella and will especially appeal to longtime science fiction fans.
Reviewed on: 03/30/2009