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Sea-Kings of Mars and Otherworldly Stories…
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Sea-Kings of Mars and Otherworldly Stories

by Leigh Brackett

Other authors: Ray Bradbury (Contributor)

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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Good old-fashioned interplanetary adventures, full of rugged men and nubile, determined girls. Unsurprisingly, they're very dated. And although the author has a dab hand with her descriptions and the stories can be marvellously (if somewhat cheesily) atmospheric at times… frankly if you've read one, you've basically read them all (she reminds me of Lovecraft in that respect.) Still, that's another entry in the Fantasy Masterworks series completed, and that makes me happy :-). ( )
  salimbol | May 21, 2013 |
This book is a Fantasy Masterworks compilation of Golden Age science fiction novellas and short stories set on the habitable and human-populated Mars and Venus of mid-20th century imagination, as influenced by the fantasies of Edgar Rice Burroughs. By and large, Brackett's protagonists are rogue archaeologists (self-confessed "tomb robbers"), thieves, and mercenaries. The complete absence of female protagonists might have been in keeping with the general run of the pulps at the time, but I note that her contemporary C(atherine). L. Moore was able to deliver a good lead heroine once in a while. Still, Brackett does include a respectable range of well-drawn female characters. And lest I accuse her of kowtowing to the white male science fiction hegemony, her recurring "Earthman out of Mercury" hero Eric John Stark is black.

Brackett's ancient Mars--as rendered in the title novella and several of the other stories in this anthology--is a terrific fantasy adventure setting, worthy of role-playing or other crossover exploitation. In addition to the Mars and Venus stories, the book supplies "The Jewel of Bas" on some nameless otherworld, and the short Mars-related "Tweener" set on Earth.

"Black Amazon of Mars" is pretty much Brackett's version of Lovecraft's "At the Mountains of Madness," and I liked it very much. Mind-transfer or psychic possession is a theme, usually a dominant one, in at least half of the stories in this volume, and telepathy is common. Once in a great while, Brackett has one of her spacefaring humans venture a "scientific" hypothesis about the mysterious ancient technology of Mars or Venus. These efforts may be somewhat cringe-inducing among educated 21st-century readers, but they are brief and thankfully rare.

Editor Stephen Jones provides a closing essay with a detailed bibliographic overview, for which I was grateful. I certainly look forward to reading more of Brackett's adventure stories, and Jones has helped me to identify some target titles for my wishlist.
3 vote paradoxosalpha | May 2, 2011 |
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» Add other authors (2 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Leigh Brackettprimary authorall editionscalculated
Bradbury, RayContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Jones, StephenEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Note that Sea-Kings of Mars and the Sword of Rhiannon are the same novel and should be combined.

Sea-Kings of Mars and Otherworldly Stories is a Fantasy Masterworks collection and should NOT be combined with either of the above.
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