Desolation Road was about a town Ares Express is about a person I hate to talk about another book too much in a review, but these books are very similar, and Ares is a quasi sequel It s not necessary to read Desolation Road first, but you will catch a few cameos and other things in this book with that background They re both very beautiful, both very lyrical However Ares Express is just better It doesn t suffer from the sudden jarring of character, it doesn t excuse the term go off the rails.
This book is all about Sweetness Octave Glorious Honey Bun Asiim Engineer 12th A 9 year old in Mars years girl who wants to run a train But she can t, because the controls of the train which generations live on , will go to her brother, because the controls are passed father to son Then her train family tries to marry her off to a Stuard on another train and s Reprinted from the Chicago Center for Literature and Photography cclapcenter.
com I am the original author of this essay, as well as the owner of CCLaP it is not being reprinted illegally This is being published today in honor of Ian McDonald Week at CCLaP For an overview of all the content regarding McDonald being posted here this week, you can click here One of the things I like most about British science fiction author Ian McDonald is that, unlike a lot of writers in his genre, he s able to slip effortlessly between different styles and themes in his work so even though, for example, he s mostly known here in the 2000s for his mainstream developing world day after tomorrow tales think third world cyberpunk if you will, stories that feel like William Gibson or Neal Stephenson but set in such places as India, Brazil and T Place In The Kaleidoscopic Future Of Ian McDonald S Desolation Road, This Novel Is Set On A Terraformed Mars Where Fusion Powered Locomotives Run Along The Network Of Rails That Is The Planet S Circulatory System And Artificial Intelligences Reconfigure Reality Billions Of Times Each Second One Young Woman, Sweetness Octave Glorious Honeybun Asiim Th, Becomes The Person Upon Whom The Future Or Futures Of Mars Depends Big, Picaresque, Funny Taking The Mars Of Ray Bradbury And The Recent, Terraformed Marses Of ↠´ read Ares Express by Ian McDonald ↠´ Authors Such As Kim Stanley Robinson And Greg Bear, Ares Express Is A Wild And Woolly Magic Realist SF Novel, Featuring Lots Of Bizarre Philosophies, Strange, Mind Stretching Ideas And Trains As Big As City Blocks Previously Desolation RoadMay 2010In this quasi sequel to Desolation Road also worth checking out Sweetness Octave Glorious Honey Bun Asiim Engineer 12th, almost nine years old Mars time wants nothing than to command the mighty train Catherine of Tharsis, but girls can t drive It ll pass to her useless brother instead, father to son, just like it s always been, while Sweetness gets married off to a useless Stuard But then a chance meeting with a trackside fortune teller reveals that Sweetness is actually part of a story a story bigger than her, bigger than trains, even and so, fleeing an arranged marriage, she steps off the tracks and sets out across the plains of Mars to seek an adventure And stumbles into a war for all reality.
Ian McDonald s Mars is a weird and wonderful place, a far far future world where the people are the same as us, trains the size of whole towns speed People who live in deserts are either mad, bad, sad or holy Sweetness Octave Glorious Honey Bun Asiim Engineer 12th, p.
91All four types of desert folk and show up somewhere in Ares Express, Ian McDonald s sequel to his first published novel, Desolation Road which you really should read before tackling this book, by the way, even though their plots are mostly independent Ares Express took than a decade to come out in the U.
, and than twenty years to arrive in the United States That s a heck of a long timetable for any train, much less one that s billed as an Express, but at least it was mostly worth the wait.
Whereas Desolation Road focused mostly on the stationary town of its title, Ares Express is always moving a picaresque journey full of surreal and often pointed encounters, a little something like The Phantom Tollbooth for grownups though this one is Reviews from the time when Ares Express was first published in Britain, as well as recent reviews from the United States, expressed admiration for and awe at McDonald s imaginative clout Critics who had read Desolation Road, his first novel, were also happy to return to that universe What divided reviewers was McDonald s decision to bend the rules of SF world making to the point where the novel must almost be classified as magical realism with rivets Of course, there is a long tradition of such fantastical rule flouting in science fiction, including Ray Bradbury s urtext, The Martian Chronicles In the end, Ares Express may be less alien to fans of Gabriel Garc a M rquez than to those of Arthur C Clarke This is an excerpt from a review published in Bookmarks magazine.
Ä Ares Express Ç McDonald s having fun with this one How can you not like a book that starts by saying that nine year old Sweetness Octave Glorious Honey Bun Asiim Engineer 12th wants to drive the giant trains that traverse Mars There s some hard science here, some stuff we might as well call magic, and ongoing multi way battles both physical and political As any good SF author should, McDonald rolls out his let s suppose THIS is possible even if it is a little far fetched than most and then follows the logic of how those pieces would interact I am not sure we need a sequel, but this was fun.
A few brief thoughts This book is very, very funny The jokes are very well integrated into the characterization and plot, in such a way that it is difficult to quote them out of context I tried to repeat the jokes to people, because they are so thoroughly excellent, only to find that they required too much set up to be funny second hand I have decided this not funny second hand will be a virtue There are metafictional elements to the novel which are quite weak, and are the only thing which stopped me from giving 5 stars The problem I have only just now realized is that metafiction is necessarily expository, rather than descriptive In a science fictional context, this kind of exposition produces the fatal Old Man Explaining to Young Person What s Going On thing which is a boredom unto death Also, the metafiction reads as if the author felt

Desolation Road was epic Not perfect, but very good, an exhausting but fascinating read This one, its sort of kind of sequel, was just exhausting Naturally, having read Desolation Road and being so in awe of McDonald s world building, his manformed terraformed Mars seems like a place worth a revisit Sometimes a sequel is just as good as the original, sometimes it s inferior, but still quite good This one wasn t even in the same ballpark, the apple rolled so far from the tree, it became an entirely different infinitely less appetizing fruit In fact the striking difference in quality is about the most interesting thing about this book I mean, it s still recognizably McDonald s writing, with his fairy tale spinning style and vividly occasionally excessively so descriptive imagery, but the restthe story of a young woman fleeing an arranged marriage to become enmeshed i Props to Ian McDonald for cleaning up his writing this book made a lot sense than DESOLATION ROAD the sort of prequel to this book.
Sweetness Octave Glorious Honey Bun Asiim Engineer the Twelfth is about to be placed in an arranged marriage She s always wanted adventure and to be a train engineer, but in her society women aren t allowed to drive.
So she runs away from her destiny of a family strengthening alliance and a stainless steel kitchen and has many adventures.
This book is The Wild West on Mars Trains, petticoats, parasols, traveling extravaganzas, etc It s not necessary to have read DESOLATION ROAD, you can understand this as a stand alone.
There are a lot of fun and interesting concepts here Siamese twins, ghosts, alternate dimensions, gam

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