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Old Mars

af George R. R. Martin (Redaktør), Gardner Dozois (Redaktør)

Andre forfattere: James S. A. Corey (Bidragyder), Phyllis Eisenstein (Bidragyder), Matthew Hughes (Bidragyder), Joe R. Lansdale (Bidragyder), David D. Levine (Bidragyder)12 mere, George R. R. Martin (Introduktion), Ian McDonald (Bidragyder), Michael Moorcock (Bidragyder), Mike Resnick (Bidragyder), Chris Roberson (Bidragyder), Mary Rosenblum (Bidragyder), Melinda M. Snodgrass (Bidragyder), Allen M. Steele (Bidragyder), S. M. Stirling (Bidragyder), Howard Waldrop (Bidragyder), Liz Williams (Bidragyder), Stephen Youll (Omslagsfotograf/tegner/...)

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1577129,304 (3.34)2
Of all the planets orbiting that G-class star we call the Sun, none was so steeped in an aura of romantic decadence, thrilling mystery, and gung-ho adventure as Mars. This new anthology of all original stories embraces an older, more welcoming, more exotic Mars: a planet of ancient canals curring through red deserts studded with the ruined cities of dying races.… (mere)

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I admit I waffled a bit over reading the George R.R. Martin and Gardner Dozois edited anthologies, Old Mars and Old Venus. These were put together as a nostalgic celebration of the Planetary Romance era of science fiction from the 1930s through the '50s. Mr. Martin and Mr. Dozois grew up on that work, it forms the deep core of their love of SF, and it's rather delightful how delighted they are to harken back to those times.

But I have no nostalgia for Planetary Romance. It's not the SF I grew up on. I'm not intrinsically inclined to like these stories simply because they remind me of the bygone good old days.

I didn't need them to be nostalgic, I just needed them to be good stories.

I admit, as well, that I was somewhat cautious about the premise of these anthologies: stories set on the versions of Mars and Venus we imagined before probes and exploration taught us otherwise—the canaled Mars of Burroughs and Bradbury; the hot, wet, jungle and watery Venus of Leigh Brackett and Roger Zelazny. I was skeptical of a premise that requires both authors and readers to ignore everything that science has taught us about these planets in the intervening 50 years.

Both Mr. Martin and Mr. Gardner voice impassioned and persuasive arguments in their introductions which address this very issue. They point out that science fiction has always been a subset of fantasy (i.e.—fantastical) and romance (in the Ivanhoe / swashbuckling meaning of the term) has always been essential... etc., etc. Points well taken but I still contend the "science" part remains important.

Science fiction—even from the Planetary Romance era—begins with science. We start with what we know now and extrapolate possibilities from there. Discount the science too much, and the work ceases to be science fiction.

Back to the point—the essential questions for me regarding these two anthologies are:

1) Are these stories good?
2) Are these stories viable science fiction?

I'll start by answering question #2—yes. I found my concerns over the scientifically regressive premise entirely irrelevant to my enjoyment of the work. To be honest, it doesn't really matter if these planets are Mars or Venus—the point is to try and imagine the kinds of alien worlds that we used to imagine back in the era of high Planetary Romance. These stories do that. If you need a defensible scientific basis for these settings, it's easy enough to forget that they're supposed to be Mars or Venus and instead picture them as other alien worlds, or alternate Universes with different versions of our solar system. If nothing else, you can pretend you're reading classic SF rather than new work.

It should also be noted that a few of the stories in these volumes trend more toward fantasy than science fiction.

These stories are compelling not because they're set on Mars or Venus per se but because they're set on worlds of the authors' imaginations. The concept of these anthologies works because it's fascinating to see how different authors imagine different worlds within the same set of basic parameters.

On this score, Old Mars makes a stronger showing than Old Venus. I'm surprised at how scientifically plausible many of the settings in Old Mars are. These authors mine some solid science here, and the Mars in many of these stories is similar enough to the planet of dust we know it to be in real life that I didn't find the environments too dissonant. The settings in Old Venus require notably more suspension of disbelief.

So, the science isn't really a problem.

Which brings us to the most important question: Are these stories good?

Sure. I suppose. As with all anthologies, some stories are better than others. Neither of these anthologies ranks as high as I would expect from editors of this caliber. A few of the stories are excellent and some are obviously not the authors' best work. More disappointingly, a scant handful feel as though they were written to spec, to fit the theme.

Once again, Old Mars fares better on this score than Old Venus does. Neither anthology is quite good enough to earn my unreserved accolades, but the stories in Old Mars are generally better.

These anthologies are worth reading as collections of fairly entertaining and fairly imaginative stories from some exceptional authors. They're fun reads. But they're not great, overall, and there's nothing very innovative or cutting edge to be found within these covers.

For those readers who do have nostalgia for the golden days of Planetary Romance, Old Mars and Old Venus may contain satisfactions that are lost on me. ( )
  johnthelibrarian | Aug 11, 2020 |
I picked this collection up from the library because I enjoyed the related 'Old Venus' so much last year. The format is the same. Well known writers tell stories set in the Mars that might have been, sans the stark and disappointing images from Mariner.

And so Dejah Thoris lives on, at least in our imginations. The most successful of these stories, to my mind are the bittersweet and poignant ones, of the dying memories of the dying race of Martians as their world and civilization slowly fades.

So I enjoyed particularly 'Shoals' by Mary Rosenblum, as a colonist is caught between two worlds. In a similar vein, Matthew Hughes tells of another fish out of water in the ruins of a Martian city. Phyllis Eisenstein's 'The Sunstone' relates another way that the memories of a lost civilization can be preserved. And in 'The Queen of Night's Aria, Ian McDonald puts a particularly SF spin on the story of a fading performer's 'biggest fan'.

There are good stories by David Levine, Melissa Snodgrass and Liz Williams as well for the reader to enjoy. ( )
1 stem orkydd | Feb 2, 2017 |
Solid anthology. Best story within by Ian McDonald ( )
  carsten.schmitt77 | Dec 5, 2016 |
Martian Blood by Allen M Steele
There is life on Mars. We invade. I liked this story

The Ugly duckling by Matthew Hughes
A good story about an archaeologist on duh, Mars.

The wreck of the Mars Adventure by David D Levine
Captain Kidd takes his ship and sails to mars. Yes, that was one for the imagination.

Swords of Zar-tu-kan by S.M.Stirling
A kidnapping. A rather meh story.

Shoals by Mary Rosenblum
It started off a bit boring, but then the Martians came and it turned good.

In the tombs of the Martian Kinds by Mike Resnick.
Another one that picked up after a while, and one that I would read more about.

Out of Scarlight by Liz Williams
There had been Martians there once? or not? Good

The dead sea-bottom scrolls by Howard Waldrop
Old Mars. A travel log. meh

A man without honor by James SA Corey
A story entirely in cursive. Whyyyy?

Written in dust by Melina M Snodgrass
I get why there are Martians in every tale. It's old school, before we knew that there are no Martians. Still at least some could live underground or something so I could believe
But hey, still good story about memories, I got off track.

The lost canal by Micheal Moorcock
Note to self. Do not stop reading in the middle of a short story, it's hard to get back into it.

THE SUNSTONE, by Phyllis Eisenstein
Another archaeologist finds his way. Good.

A girl finding danger on the ice. Weird old Mars

MARINER, by Chris Roberson
How unlucky can a man be? Ok

Finally a bit of war. We have been way too friendly so far, and humans are not that nice.

Some good ones, some I wanted more of, some ok ones. You know, the usual find in an anthology. There are always styles you like, styles you do not care for, and styles you did not know you would enjoy, and did.

These are not about Mars now. Instead we have to believe that we knew less about Mars, back to the time where Mars could have held all kinds of wonders. Martians, cities, you name it.

Interesting read, and well, I am all Marsed out now. ( )
  blodeuedd | Mar 2, 2016 |
A collection of stories based on the old ideas of Mars. The ERB's version of Mars and some of the stories hit the mark square on. In fact a few of them have people travel to Mars using ways that have a nod to John Carter. The collection had that pulpy feel to it and it was a lot of fun to read. Some great stories in here and some ok ones but not a single clunker in the collection at all. I won't be surprised if a story from the collection gets some critical nods but I doubt it will be one of my favorites. A good book to give to someone wishing for the books they don't write anymore.

Digital copy provided by the publisher through Edelweiss ( )
  Glennis.LeBlanc | Jul 8, 2014 |
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Forfatter navnRolleHvilken slags forfatterVærk?Status
Martin, George R. R.Redaktørprimær forfatteralle udgaverbekræftet
Dozois, GardnerRedaktørhovedforfatteralle udgaverbekræftet
Corey, James S. A.Bidragydermedforfatteralle udgaverbekræftet
Eisenstein, PhyllisBidragydermedforfatteralle udgaverbekræftet
Hughes, MatthewBidragydermedforfatteralle udgaverbekræftet
Lansdale, Joe R.Bidragydermedforfatteralle udgaverbekræftet
Levine, David D.Bidragydermedforfatteralle udgaverbekræftet
Martin, George R. R.Introduktionmedforfatteralle udgaverbekræftet
McDonald, IanBidragydermedforfatteralle udgaverbekræftet
Moorcock, MichaelBidragydermedforfatteralle udgaverbekræftet
Resnick, MikeBidragydermedforfatteralle udgaverbekræftet
Roberson, ChrisBidragydermedforfatteralle udgaverbekræftet
Rosenblum, MaryBidragydermedforfatteralle udgaverbekræftet
Snodgrass, Melinda M.Bidragydermedforfatteralle udgaverbekræftet
Steele, Allen M.Bidragydermedforfatteralle udgaverbekræftet
Stirling, S. M.Bidragydermedforfatteralle udgaverbekræftet
Waldrop, HowardBidragydermedforfatteralle udgaverbekræftet
Williams, LizBidragydermedforfatteralle udgaverbekræftet
Youll, StephenOmslagsfotograf/tegner/...medforfatteralle udgaverbekræftet
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For Edgar Rice Burroughs,
Leigh Brackett, Catherine Moore,
Ray Bradbury, and Roger Zelazny,
who inspired this book,
and Robert Silverberg,
who should have been in it.
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Of all the planets orbiting that G-class star we call the Sun, none was so steeped in an aura of romantic decadence, thrilling mystery, and gung-ho adventure as Mars. This new anthology of all original stories embraces an older, more welcoming, more exotic Mars: a planet of ancient canals curring through red deserts studded with the ruined cities of dying races.

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