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The Sky People [Mass Market Paperback]

S. M. Stirling
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
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Book Description

1 Dec 2007
Marc Vitrac was born in Louisiana in the early 1960's, about the time the first interplanetary probes delivered the news that Mars and Venus were teeming with life--even human life. At that point, the "Space Race" became the central preoccupation of the great powers of the world.
Now, in 1988, Marc has been assigned to Jamestown, the US-Commonwealth base on Venus, near the great Venusian city of Kartahown. Set in a countryside swarming with sabertooths and dinosaurs, Jamestown is home to a small band of American and allied scientist-adventurers.
But there are flies in this ointment - and not only the Venusian dragonflies, with their yard-wide wings. The biologists studying Venus's life are puzzled by the way it not only resembles that on Earth, but is virtually identical to it. The EastBloc has its own base at Cosmograd, in the highlands to the south, and relations are frosty. And attractive young geologist Cynthia Whitlock seems impervious to Marc's Cajun charm.
Meanwhile, at the western end of the continent, Teesa of the Cloud Mountain People leads her tribe in a conflict with the Neanderthal-like beastmen who have seized her folk's sacred caves. Then an EastBloc shuttle crashes nearby, and the beastmen acquire new knowledge and AK47's.
Jamestown sends its long-range blimp to rescue the downed EastBloc cosmonauts, little suspecting that the answer to the jungle planet's mysteries may lie there, among tribal conflicts and traces of a power that made Earth's vaunted science seem as primitive as the tribesfolk's blowguns. As if that weren't enough, there's an enemy agent on board the airship
Extravagant and effervescent, "The Sky People" is alternate-history SF adventure at its best.

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Product details

  • Mass Market Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Tor Books; 1st Mass Market Ed edition (1 Dec 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0765353768
  • ISBN-13: 978-0765353764
  • Product Dimensions: 17.2 x 12 x 2.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 719,959 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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"Rollicking [A] terrific premise." -"Publishers Weekly" (starred review) on "The Sky People" "Powerful and convincing." --Harry Turtledove on "Dies the Fire"

"Stirling gives himself a broad canvas on which to display his talent for action, extrapolation, and depicuion on the brutal realities of life in the absence of civilized norms." --David Drake on "Dies the Fire"

"A masterpiece--the definitive novel about castaways in time." --Robert J. Sawyer on "Island in the Sea of Time"

"Utterly engaging Certain to win the author legions of new readers and fans." --George R. R. Martin on "Island in the Sea of Time"

"Exciting and explosive "Against the Tide of Years" is even more compelling than "Island in the Sea of Time, " but just as much fun." --Jane Lindskold

"Exciting, evocative, and horrifying." --Poul Anderson on "The Domination"

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Customer Reviews

4.4 out of 5 stars
4.4 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
24 of 24 people found the following review helpful
By Marshall Lord TOP 500 REVIEWER
This excellent book is alternative history in space with a difference: it it begins in 1988 on Venus in a world where, as in the Martian fantasies of Edgar Rice Burroughs or other works of early science fiction, Venus and Mars are inhabited.

This history of the world of "The Sky People" begins to diverge from ours around 1960 when probes to Mars and Venus reveal first that these planets are habitable, then that they are teeming with terrestial forms of life from all eras of our planet's history, and finally that these include Homo Sapiens Neanderthalensis and Homo Sapiens Sapiens. And everything else from dinosaurs to sabre toothed cats. Someone is using these planets as giant zoos for terrestial life forms.

Instead of concentrating on the arms race, the Soviet bloc and the USA compete to colonise Mars and Venus. At the start of the story, both the USA, with some support from the UK, and the Communist powers (including China) have bases on Venus. A soviet shuttle crashes, and although it contains a number of things which the Russians would rather the US did not know about, they are so desperate to recover the crew that they ask the Americans for help. Meanwhile the French have plans of their own.

There are a number of amusing references to events and fiction in our history: one of these is that Stirling has named one of the major characters in this book "Wing Commander Christopher Blair." (For those who never played space sim games, Christopher Blair was the main character in four of the five "Wing Commander" computer games.) However, Blair in this book is definately not the clean cut boyish hero played by Mark Hamill in the Wing Commander games.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Enjoyable Alternative. 3 Jan 2008
Format:Mass Market Paperback
Reminiscent of the care free action novels of pulp 1930's sci-fi. The premise is a solar system where the inner planets have humanoid life discovered on them. Unlike Harry Turtledove's "A World of Difference", the life turns out to be Homo sapiens with other human culture turning out to be as alien as anything among the stars. The Earth's Anglo-American alliance and the Communist by the 1980s have set up rival bases on a Venus: which resembles a Jurassic era Earth, replete with large and hungry dinosaurs, sabertooths and Neanderthals. A crashed space shuttle and a rescue mission leads to hints of true alien involvement. Looking forward to its sequel for more escapism, "Halls of the Crimson King".
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars one to read 22 Jun 2011
By Shaw
this was supprisingly a good read, i liked the cover then as i got to grips with the first few chapters the story began to unfold nicely, the more i read the more i could not put this down!
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5.0 out of 5 stars Really good read 26 Mar 2012
Format:Mass Market Paperback|Verified Purchase
Read in a day it was that good. Looking forward to the sequel and hoping the author will write more in this series.
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5.0 out of 5 stars John Carter rides again 29 Aug 2009
Format:Mass Market Paperback
S.M. Stirling decided to write his own Mars/Venus pulp stories. There is the problem that we now know the two planets to be sterile. Stirling's solution: Create an alternative universe where XT's terraformed the planets a couple of hundred million years ago and seeded them with life. Then 200.000 years ago some hominids were transferred to Mars, uplifted to intelligence and then more or less left to their own devices. Venus got neanderthals when they were still around and homo sapiens maybe 8000-10.000 ago.
Then a novel is written about each planet.
Burroughs has two versions of these stories: Hero meets stone age princess and hero meets princess from an ancient civilisation. The Sky People is the firt kind of book. In the Courts of the Crimson Kings is about an old not-quite-human civilization on Mars.
For old fans of Burroughs, Kline, Brackett and so on they are must reads. For other people they are good reads.
Stirling has incidentally written a novel in what you may call the Kipling/MacDonald Fraser universe: The Peshawar Lancers.
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