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SF Tidbits for 10/26/06

About John DeNardo (13012 Articles)
John DeNardo is the Managing Editor at SF Signal and a columnist at Kirkus Reviews. He also likes bagels. So there.

7 Comments on SF Tidbits for 10/26/06

  1. I’ve been looking forward to Stirling’s forthcoming two novels for some time.

  2. “…posits an alternate history in which Mars and Venus are habitable planets…”

    Did you not link in just last week’s SF Tidbits someone complaining about how the march of science has trampled science fiction? This seems to be a sort of move in the opposite direction.

    In no time, we will all be enjoying books once more about the Warlords of Mars, the Amazons of Venus, the Jovial giants of Jupiter, the Saturnine Old Men of Saturn (these last somehow having a solid surface) not to mention the inhabitants of Pluto, either Space-Eskimos, Palainians, or perhaps Fungi from Yuggoth, exasperated that their beloved planet was demoted to the status of a dwarf world. Ah, for the days when asteroids where infested with space-pirates!

    Myself, I am waiting for the cross-over novel where the tripod War Machines of Mars attempt to conquer either the radium-pistol armed Barsoomians, or the Eldil-protected Sorn of Malacandra. (Didn’t Alan Moore do something along these lines in LXG?)

  3. I don’t know about Alan Moore, but I know that folks who write pastiche stories of the worlds of ERB (Edgar Rice Burroughs for the rest of you) have done such crossovers.

  4. John,

    Stirling didn’t mention in that interview, but the impression I get, from other interviews he has done on the two novels, is that that both worlds were terraformed into habitability in the distant past by some alien agency.

    He did not say, I admit, whether or not the plot of either novel will revolve around the discovery of the how and why, or if such agency is still present and active in the solar system.

    So I don’t believe it to be a retreat in the sense that you think. Stirling is not willfully ignoring the planetary science in an effort to just set a story there.

  5. Just wanted to point out that the list I posted is specifically of my favorite pieces of fantasy art from 2005; trying to do a list of my favorite artists (even just living/active ones) would have been much more difficult.

  6. Woops. Fixed!

  7. When I read SLAN in my youth, I noticed A.E. van Vogt mentioned the oceans and atmosphere of Mars–and then casually mentioned how, in the now-unremembered past, mankind had terraformed the planet.

    He makes a similar astonishing-for-its-time remark about rendering Venus habitable in WORLD OF NULL A.

    In other words, even back in the ‘Golden Age’ and Campbellian SF, there were writers who knew (sorry, Michael Valentine Smith; sorry, Ray Bradbury) that Mars was an uninhabitable waste of rust and dry ice, and who used a realistic hard science-fiction idea, the idea of engineering a planetary climate, to introduce these beloved Pulp SF settings to allow them to be settings in their Hard SF stories.

    So if Stirling is not retreating in the sense of ignoring the real world, he is combining two clever SF idea of distinguished pedigree: alternate history and terraforming.

    I hope he decides to flood the Moon, so that the Sea of Storms is actually tempest-tossed, and the Sea of Tranquility strangely calm beneath the Earthlight.

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