The Martians is a collection of stories, alternate histories, poems, and even the complete text of a planetary constitution based on Kim Stanley Robinson's award-winning Mars trilogy (composed of Red Mars, Green Mars, and Blue Mars). For those unfamiliar with the series, The Martians from the title are the humans who have colonized and terraformed the Red Planet over the course of several generations. While Robinson told their story at considerable length in his novels, The Martians fleshes out some of his more interesting characters and also adds depth to their world.
When it's at its best, this collection presents stand-alone stories of life, love, and work on our celestial neighbor, ranging from the tale of an expedition seeking to conquer Olympus Mons in "Green Mars" to a folksy story of friendship and baseball in "Arthur Sternbach Brings the Curveball to Mars." Unfortunately, some of the material here can be tough going for those unfamiliar with Robinson's Mars milieu. For instance, the ending piece, "Purple Mars," is apparently an autobiographical snippet about the day Robinson finished writing the final novel. That's great stuff for someone who has been following the entire Mars saga from beginning to end, but newcomers will probably not know what to make of it.
Still, there is enough material here to interest anyone on the lookout for some good Mars stories. Although Robinson has made his name by writing fat novels that span dozens of generations and characters, in The Martians he proves that he is also adept at shorter pieces. It's a fine if somewhat uneven collection that serves to round out the Mars universe while providing some excellent reading. --Craig E. Engler [via]