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Foundation It is the heyday of the Galactic Empire. Foundation and Empire In the second book, the Foundation has grown in power to rival the dying Empire. Practically every novel that imagines a successful Mars colony also imagines that the colony will come into conflict with Earth. Mars, which will of necessity attract the self-reliant, is invariably described as a place of radical thought that clashes with the inherent conservatism of Earth.
One of the best portrayals of such a situation is this novel. The political radicalism of Mars is also tied in with scientific radicalism, as a string of new discoveries fuel tensions with Earth. In the end, the title of the novel is a literal description of the plans of the Martian rebels.
Moving Mars won the Nebula Award for Best Novel, and it was, along with Red Mars, one of the books that kicked off the renewed interest in Mars in science fiction during the early s. The result is a unique and enchanting novel. It's set in the Martian desert, where a small community called Desolation Road starts to gather. Over the course of a couple of centuries, we see the community as it grows, and through Desolation Road we see the transformation of Mars around it. It's a story of everyday loves and tensions within such a small, isolated settlement, but it's also the story of the technology that keeps the town together and that makes it part of the new world that is Mars.
The image of the train is one of the most profound and memorable parts of this whole novel.
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Desolation Road was Ian McDonald's first novel, and all of the characteristics that we have come to recognise in his later books are found here: the large cast, the fluid relationships between characters, the sense that the future is not just, or not primarily, white and western. A sequel, Ares Express, takes the story forward and the two really should be read together. Desolation Road is one way of writing about Mars as a frontier; C. Moore's startling novella is another. In this instance, Mars most closely resembles a dusty township from the American West, where there aren't too many laws and where adventurers wander the streets with guns strapped to their waists.
For a while, this was a common way of describing Mars in the planetary romances of the time, but none of them did it better than "Shambleau". The tall, lean outlaw we first encounter in this, Moore's first published story, is Northwest Smith, an adventurer who made his living among the cheap bars and dangerous alleyways of planets that have been settled but not yet civilised. Here he rescues a young woman from a mob, only to discover that she is more menacing than any mob might ever be.
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