Peter Crowther, editor,
Mars Probes
(DAW, 2002)

Many science fiction anthologies are published and subsequently go unnoticed each year. I myself am guilty of passing over anthologies for my personal reading material because I've never been a short story person. Part of my attraction to fantasy and science fiction is the plethora of large tomes available in this wonderful genre, long stories that I love to remain lost in for days, even weeks, at a time. However, Mars Probes has changed my view of the typical science fiction anthology forever.

If ever there was an overworked fixation in science fiction, many people would say that Mars is definitely it. We've seen Martian invasions of Earth, Earth terra-forming on Mars, little green men, and every spectacle in between in the science-fiction world. Despite the huge body of work out there concerning the Red Planet, there is still plenty of new, exciting, breathtaking, humorous writing to explore.

An anthology allows you to get just a taste of an author's style, and can very easily lead you on to other works by the same author. A perfect example is "A Martian Theodicy" by Paul Di Filippo, which is a satirical sequel to "A Martian Odyssey", written by Stanley Weinbaum. Now, I knew this was supposed to be funny, but I had never read Weinbaum's work to compare the two. So, off to the library I went. Needless to say, I enjoyed both the seriously funny sequel and the classic itself.

Another treat enclosed in this little package is "The Love Affair," a short story by Ray Bradbury that had never before been published in the United States (as the cover explicitly states). I love Bradbury, and while this story is not in ranking with my view of his greatest writing, it is definitely still a pleasure to read.

This collection of stories really does offer the reader a taste of everything at the Mars banquet. Satires of stories from the origins of science fiction, serious depictions of our ability as a race to ruin yet another planet and little gems that remind us why we enjoy reading about Mars so much. This anthology comes highly recommended, and has made a short story convert of me.

- Rambles
written by Carie Morrison
published 22 February 2003

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