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Old Venus Hardcover – 3 Mar 2015


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Review

An excellent and enjoyable collection of what Venus was envisioned to be. --Fantasy Book Review --This text refers to an alternate Hardcover edition.

About the Author

George R.R. Martin is a critically acclaimed author most widely recognized for his New York Times bestselling fantasy novel series, A Song of Ice and Fire. A recipient of numerous Hugo, Nebula, Bram Stoker, and World Fantasy awards (among other accolades), he has worked in television as well, contributing scripts for such programs as Twilight Zone and Beauty and the Beast. His novel, A Game of Thrones, has been adapted as a critically-acclaimed HBO original series in 2011 drawing in millions of viewers per episode. --This text refers to an alternate Hardcover edition.

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Amazon.com: 8 reviews
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
Adventure on a Venus that never was. 13 Mar. 2015
By Garnett Elliott - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Kindle Edition
I’m a sucker for retro sci-fi, especially the ‘habitable solar system’ tales made famous by writers like Leigh Brackett and C.L. Moore. And I really liked the previous anthology, Old Mars. So, snatching this one up was a given.

As previously mentioned, not all the stories in Old Venus are up to snuff. Some are experimental, and some aren’t really ‘retro’ at all, just modern sci-fi on an alternatively imagined Venus. But the good ones pull this from a two or three-star collection to a four. A few standouts:

Gardner Dozois’s introduction is as evocative as any of the pieces that follow. If the majority of stories lived up to the pulpy standards he sets in his essay, I’d have given Old Venus five stars.

Allen Steele’s ‘Frogheads’ is a solid start, set in the same universe as ‘Martian Blood’ from the previous anthology. It uses the PI format to explore concepts of colonialism and addiction, and the ending doesn’t let any guilty parties off the hook.

‘Planet of Fear,’ by Paul McAuley, is also good. Russian culture (a re-occurring theme throughout the anthology), nationalistic paranoia, and xenobiology.

‘Greeves and the Evening Star,’ by Matthew Hughes, uses the familiar framework of P.G. Wodehouse. Very entertaining.

Joe Haldeman’s ‘Living Hell’ is one of the first stories I read, because it’s by, well, Joe Haldeman. Venus as a death-planet crammed with killer biota, and the ending’s a real twist.

‘By Frogsled and Lizardback to Outcast Venusian Lepers,’ by Garth Nix, has cinematic pacing and an interesting, though yucky, take on symbiosis. Fungal horrors abound.

Joe R. Lansdale gets an Honorable Mention for writing an honest-to-God Sword and Planet story.

Mike Resnick’s ‘The Godstone of Venus,’ is my second-favorite piece, because it’s pure pulp and reintroduces us to Marcus Aurelius Scorpio and his deadly Venusian companion, Merlin. Scorpio is a homage to C.L. Moore’s character Northwest Smith (frequently referenced as ‘Cemetery Smith’ in the story). The ending’s a bit of a letdown, like it was in ‘In the Tombs of the Martian Kings,’ but still, a fun ride.

Last but certainly not least is Ian McDonald’s ‘Botanica Veneris: Thirteen Papercuts by Ida Countess Rathagan.’ Hands-down the best in the anthology, and a gem by its own right. McDonald presents different Venerian flora to frame anecdotes about a Venus reminiscent of India during Queen Victoria’s reign, following a ne’er do well aristocrat with surprising depth. McDonald’s ‘The Queen of the Night’s Aria’ stole the show in Old Mars, and he pulls off the trick once again.

There you have it. You might want to fast-forward through a couple pieces, but still worth the price.
9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
Companion Collection to _Old Mars_ 4 Mar. 2015
By D. Kittrell - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
A fine collection and worthy companion to _Old Mars_ but the stories don't quite match the level of that earlier set of retro-SF. If you're a fan of classic Heinlein, Burroughs (Edgar not William), and Bradbury then you'll like both volumes. The stories in this collection just felt a bit more shallow and, well, rushed than those of _Old Mars_. But still a solid 3 to 4 star collection with a few gems.
Few anthologies have left me feeling that level of enrichment, and I would even read at least half the stories again. 9 April 2015
By Bookreporter - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
There are many folks who pick up collections of stories on the run, with the expectation of escaping briefly into a fast read while someone else moves them from place to place --- I’ve been there, done that a lot.

But if you’re drawn to science fiction and any of its varied companion genres, taking OLD VENUS along on the commute to work might not have the desired distracting effect. You could “surface” from a state of deep absorption in any of its 16 well-chosen tales to find yourself several missed stops away from your destination, or even at the end of the line.

That’s another way of saying that OLD VENUS is solid, in all the best bookish ways. Apart from its impressive length at nearly 600 pages, co-editors George R.R. Martin (prolific writer-editor-producer and creative genius behind Game of Thrones) and Gardner Dozois (equally distinguished as a veteran writer-editor, with multiple SF awards to his credit) know their profession like few other collaborators have ever done.

As with their outstanding 2013 precursor, OLD MARS, this diligent pair has the uncanny ability to pick not just good new material from the best English-language writers in the field, but the very best of the best. In fact, many of the stories in this eclectic anthology demand the same concentration and reflection as novellas or full-length books in their own right. No matter what the theme, style, characterization, or vantage point taken on this most iconic and mysterious of planets, none of the chosen authors gives short shrift to elegant structure and memorable prose.

And as much as reviewers’ shopping lists are a nuisance, this time it’s essential to know just who all these fine authors are, because you’ll turn to them first if you’re a fan, and definitely want to read more of them if any are a new discovery. In proper alphabetical order, they are: Eleanor Arnason (USA), Elizabeth Bear (USA), David Brin (USA), Tobias Buckell (Grenada-USA), Michael Cassutt (USA), Joe Haldeman (USA), Matthew Hughes (UK-Canada), Gwyneth Jones (UK), Joe R. Lansdale (USA), Stephen Leigh (USA), Paul McAuley (UK), Ian McDonald UK), Garth Nix (Australia), Mike Resnick (USA), Allen Steele (USA) and Lavie Tidhar (Israel-UK). And Dozois’ superb introduction, “Return to Venusport,” makes him a worthy 17th. (If you don’t normally read the “extra” pages in a book, make an exception here; this is background you need to know!)

The multiplicity of contributors --- every one of them a memorable voice --- makes it extremely difficult (no, impossible) to embrace the entire collection in a few reporter’s phrases without rambling into a 5,000-word essay on the virtuous and near-virtuous accomplishments of OLD VENUS. Even the few tales I didn’t immediately connect with wouldn’t let me go; I was glad I read each one to the end. Few anthologies have left me feeling that level of enrichment, and I would even read at least half the stories again. Which half? Every day the list is a bit different!

It goes without saying, however, that dyed-in-the-wool SF aficionados will have divergent expectations from those of readers who approach the stories from a more traditional literary background. Some will recoil from the gory bits but enjoy the fantasy aspects. Some will appreciate the balance of scientific speculation and humanoid assumptions, or the imaginative inversion of accepted philosophy and truth. Others will reflect on the persistent theme of familiar earth prejudices and traditions crudely transplanted into places too alien to support them. Yet others will revel in the nostalgia of “golden age” pulp magazine excess cleverly enhanced to mesmerize millennial audiences.

So I’m not going to recommend just one, three or five stories, or tell you which authors exceed expectations or not. Instead, I can recommend all of OLD VENUS. Any reader looking for a newly honed edge on an old SF obsession can once again trust the admirable stewardship of Martin and Dozois. Which “old” planet will they celebrate next? I can’t wait.

Reviewed by Pauline Finch.
For those that miss the old novels 19 April 2015
By Bayard West - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Sub-genre: Venus
Literary conflict: Man vs. Man, Man vs. Martian

GOOD:
Solid editing/polish: ✔ yes
Fun characters: ✔ yes
Thought provoking: ✔ yes

BAD:
Rapid head-hopping: no
Unbelievable moments: no
Idiot aliens won't retreat 'til their dead are piled 5 meters high: no
Too many characters: no

This nostalgic collection of short stories fills that void left after the true nature of Venus' atmosphere was discovered and so many of the older books fell out of print. George R.R. Martin has co-edited the book, lending his household name to this project.

I found some of the stories completely engrossing, and I hope you do as well. My only complaint is that the good ones end all too soon. I would rather have seen fewer and longer stories. One story in particular, The Sunset of Time by Michael Cassutt, deserves a few hundred pages to accommodate its majestic/sweeping scope. This story alone makes the read worthwhile.

The last story let me down slightly. It was of obvious quality, but not what I was looking for, so the book didn't finish strong (for me at least).
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
most a good, some great 4 April 2015
By Stephen C. Hick - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Lots of old fashioned stories about Venus, most a good, some great, and couple of klinkers.
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