Saturday, April 25, 2015

Book Review: Old Venus

Old Venus
George R. R. Martin, Gardner Dozois (editors)
Science fiction, anthology

The idea is a lot of fun: collect stories set on Venus the way it should have been--the lush jungle planet, steaming in the rain and teeming with life, of Golden Age science fiction.

The stories, regrettably, are not a lot of fun. In fact, the stories mostly range from mediocre on downward--boring, poorly structured, and unimaginative. There are only three that I'd recommend:

  • "Frogheads", by Allen Steele, is competent.
  • "Greaves and the Evening Star", by Matt Hughes, is a flat-out P. G. Wodehouse parody--a gimmick, but largely successful as such.
  • "Botanica Veneris: Thirteen Papercuts by Ida Countess Rathangan", by Ian McDonald, is quite enjoyable to read. I found the ending a bit predictable, though.
To the other authors: You might want to consider the quaint tradition whereby your protagonist has some, you know, role to play. As in does something, or makes a decision, or has any function other than to wander around being a viewpoint. Also, there's this thing called a "climax" or "resolution" that you should maybe look into.


  1. Really unfortunate, that. I suspect that GRRM can sign his name to almost anything now to boost sales. I hope that wasn't the motivation here. GD is usually consistent, though. I wonder what happened.

    1. I don't think it's GRRM. I think it's more that there just isn't much in the way of a short-story market out there, so short-story writers don't have any need or occasion to polish their craft. It's also the case that (a) a lot of the really fun ideas have been done to death already, and (b) the values of traditional narrative storytelling are no longer universally appreciated.