Friday, 2 February 2001

Kim Stanley Robinson: The Martians (1999)

Edition: Voyager, 1999
Review number: 737

This collection of short stories, all previously unpublished, were written to fill out Robinson's famous Mars trilogy after that had been finished. They mainly concentrate on the period covered by Blue Mars, the last and poorest novel of the three, which is a bit unfortunate, and most of them read like rejected sections from the novel, which is more so.

A small number of stories stand out. The most interesting are written from the point of view of Michel, the psychologist who accompanied the original colonists to help them continue to work together as a team. In them, however, the project is cancelled because of his report on the acclimatisation trials in Antarctica, which were used to decide on the final group from the short listed candidates. Then, years later, he meets Maya, who would have been the leader of the colony once more; they talk about what might have been if the colonisation had gone ahead.

If Robinson had published short stories as he had been writing the novels, they would probably have been better; I am sure that magazine editors would have prompted him to improve them, and filling out the earlier novels would have been more interesting. Something else I would have been interested in would have been non-fictional essays describing the relationship between the science described in the trilogy and current research. This sort of thing might not be to everyone's taste, but I am sure that it would be fascinating to many of the fans of Robinson's kind of hard science fiction.

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