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Maelstrom:  and Other Martian Tales

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Maelstrom: and Other Martian Tales

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Author: Kage Baker
Publisher: Subterranean Press, 2024

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Book Type: Collection
Genre: Science-Fiction
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Mars is an old world, one that has been mapped by science fiction writers for over a century. The late Nebula and Locus Award winning writer Kage Baker was among the most skilled cartographers to render the Red Planet as full of life and love, hope and heroism. Gathered together here for the first time are all of Baker's Mars stories, beginning with "The Empress of Mars," for which she won the Theodore Sturgeon Memorial Award. It was in this story that Baker first laid out her vision of our neighboring planet, with its patchwork quilt of societies based in part on the history of the British Empire. Here are Celts and colonialists side by side with adventuring Haulers who bring ice from the poles and missionaries who bring the message of their goddess from Luna.

These tales are all part of an imaginatively worked out near future, where raucous frontier people intermingle with devoted terraformers in an uneasy mix overseen by Areco, Baker's version of the British East India Company. Turn by turn, each story sets its protagonists the task of understanding and altering a world that resists change.

In "The Empress of Mars," a woman gathers her family--her children along with outcast Eccentrics--and turns an unexpected windfall into the founding of a place they can be proud to call their own. "Plotters and Shooters" recounts a series of incidents in an orbital defense station involving characters who may be delightfully familiar. In the "Maelstrom," one of the Eccentrics remakes himself into a theatrical impresario, founding a theater that serves as "a cathedral to pure weirdness." Finally, in "Attlee and the Long Walk," a young child of the agricultural tunnels takes a journey through both her physical and emotional worlds, making unexpected discoveries in both.

Maelstrom and Other Martian Tales stands as a testament to the gritty and glorious imagination of a writer gone too soon. These are remarkable stories by a remarkable author.


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