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The Empress of Mars Audiobook – Unabridged

4.0 out of 5 stars 3 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Audio Download
  • Listening Length: 9 hours and 34 minutes
  • Program Type: Audiobook
  • Version: Unabridged
  • Publisher: Audible Studios
  • Audible.co.uk Release Date: 9 Aug. 2011
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B005GL7F7E
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank:

Customer Reviews

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
I was first introduced to Kage Baker by a number of her short stories that I absolutely loved. I then moved on to the Company novels, and have enjoyed them immensely (with the minor speed bump of Sky Coyote). Now, with Empress of Mars, I've read a novella by her. Is it any good? As usual, Baker has made me glad that I'm able to read.
Empress of Mars is about the colonization of Mars by the British. As the story goes, "their space exploration effort had not been fueled primarily by a military industrial complex." This meant that its progress was not inhibited by the fact that there were no longer any enemies to face. "This left plenty of room for the private sector." The Empress refers to three things: a bar at the major settlement, the informal title of the owner of said bar, and (of course), the Queen of England. This story only concerns the first two. It's the story of Mary Griffith, homesteader and bar-owner, a woman of stout heart and steely determination, as she faces off against the main company trying to terraform the planet (the BAC, or the British Arean Company). She's trying to keep her family together and stable in a western-like environment, when the discovery of diamonds on her property just makes things more interesting, and the BAC more intent on getting her land.
The Empress of Mars contains all of the Baker staples: quirky characters, fun writing and intriguing plot. At its basest, it is a western about a strong woman on the frontier. This frontier just happens to be the Red Planet, of course, so it includes all the details that this requires (such as space suits to walk around). Baker captures wonderfully the desolation of a community that doesn't have a lot to live for. There's mining and there's drinking, and that's about it.
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Format: Hardcover
With a title evoking the romances of Edgar Rice Burroughs, you might expect this to be a rip-roaring adventure with little in the way of nuance or deep ideas. But Ms. Baker is a little more subtle than that, and what you actually get in this book is a scenario for really colonizing Mars in the face of strong bureaucratic pressure and bumbling plus a lack of interest and funding from Earth.

She peoples her planet with some strong if idiosyncratic characters, including a bar owner (the Empress) who also holds advanced degrees in biology, a lawyer (a lawyer? On Mars?) who seems bent on stymieing the bureaucrats just for the fun of it, an autistic mechanical/electronic genius, a one-eyed refugee from a certain religious persuasion, and a conman/gambler. Not quite the list of people you would normally make up as prime candidates for accomplishing the task of turning Mars into something at least marginally habitable.

There's quite a bit of satire and a fair amount of humor here, but running underneath it all is quite a statement about what makes and keeps people motivated to attempt the impossible, with some strong support for the concept of capitalism. As such, this book stands in counterpoint to Kim Stanley Robinson's excellent Red, Green, and Blue Mars set, which at least at its beginning was based more on the communistic ideal. Both books get their science right, which contributes a lot to the believability of the situation and the actions of the characters. Unlike Robinson's work, which bogged down in places in extreme technical and geographic detail (but which eventually contributed greatly to its scope and scale), this work gives just enough information about the conditions and science involved to keep the reader satisfied that this is a real world.

In all, this is a fun, easy reading romp with a lot hiding just below the surface, well worth your time.

---Reviewed by Patrick Shepherd (hyperpat)
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I like Kage Baker's books a lot and have most of them in hardback, but this is about her weakest to date. It's not a bad book, Baker couldn't write a bad book if she tried. The setting and science are convincing, the characters are colourful, mostly, the writing is good, it's never dull and there is always plenty going on.

And at this point I imagine you're wondering what on Mars I'm moaning about and only giving it a three star rating for. The answer is fairly simple: the struggle of the protagonists is never really convincing. The baddies -the British Arean Corporation and its representative on Mars are straw men. There is never a moment when you doubt that our heroes will win the day because the antagonists are useless and easily manipulated. There is never any sense of real threat and, as a consequence, no real drama.

It's a fun read but one without any substance.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta) (May include reviews from Early Reviewer Rewards Program)

Amazon.com: 4.4 out of 5 stars 36 reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the author's best books 20 Jun. 2016
By NCW - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is one of my favorite books by Kage Baker. I've lost count of how many times I've read it. I bought this copy as a gift for my son, who recently was reading Baker's Company series, of which this is an offshoot.

This is a well-written book with a good plot and a great deal of humor. It is a spin-off from her Company novels, telling a story that is a prequel to the events in the main series. It may help to have read the Company novels, as there are a couple of characters a reader will recognize from the main series, but it isn't necessary to read the others. This book works very well as a stand-alone story. I only wish Baker had written another one, a sequel to this one, perhaps, because the characters are people you'd like to know and see again in another story. However, it's too late, as Kage Baker passed away a few years ago.
4.0 out of 5 stars Interesting story of political intrigue on Mars colony 5 Jan. 2017
By D. Baer - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I picked this book up after seeing it on a list somewhere and I finally got around to reading it. I like the writing style and there is a lot going on. It feels like it is setting the foundation for so much more, even though it feels like we are jumping in part way. Initially, I thought this might have been the first book in the series, but it turns out it is set in the same vast universe as another set of 8 books, multiple novellas and short stories.

From what I have read online, this book is set in that universe (The Company) but is a separate story, so knowledge of the other events in the universe are not required. I don't know if that is true, but this book read fine on its own to me. Apparently, this is an expansion of one of the early novellas in the series.

There is plenty of sci-fi technology, especially since the entire story is set on a Mars colony, and enough political intrigue to keep many people happy. Most of the main conflict introduced is wrapped up in this book, although, like I wrote before, it feels like the stage is set for more. I do not believe there was ever a follow-on published, but I enjoyed it enough.
5.0 out of 5 stars See Mars as the Austalian Outback 24 Mar. 2015
By Bill Peschel - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
We got this book from the library, but wanted a copy for ourselves, because I can see us reading this again. Imagine a pioneer community in the Outback of Australia trying to make the village grow, while resisting the encompassing arms of the equivalent of the East India Company. Mars is in the process of being terraformed. You need masks, but not full-body spacesuits. So you have a community of people, some drifters, some hardworking long-distance ice-haulers, some missionaries and everyone trying to get along. It's a low-key story but engrossing nevertheless.
4.0 out of 5 stars A Hard Life 18 Nov. 2012
By themarsman - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
In the early 24th century, Mars is a place where only the hardiest survive. Mary Griffith runs the Empress...the only spot on the planet where one can order a pint of beer after a long day of hauling polar ice or working in fields where only the most tenacious of crops survive. Mary Griffith has welcomed a motley assortment of characters into her life...from a one-eyed heretic who is hiding from the far-flung reaches of a church to an ostracized heir of an Italian import/export company, Mary Griffith is known to accept the lost, the broken, the down-trodden into her Empress. But when the corporation that runs Mars -- the British Arean Company -- begins to cause problems for those who call the Empress home, Mary Griffith will move heaven and earth to see that she and her band of misfits manages to survive in an already inhospitable environment.

The Empress of Mars is a charming foray from a different perspective into Baker's Company universe. While her previous tales focus on the cyborgs that form the primary workforce of Dr. Zeus, Inc., this tale is told from a normal Human perspective...however, the author makes abundantly clear that the cyborgs of Dr. Zeus are, like all matters important to history, manipulating the situation from the inside.

Baker's trademark wit and humor is, once again, evident in this tale. And, despite the fact that this book was obviously meant to avoid the cyborgs' perspective and focus on how normal Humans are struggling to terraform Mars, I do wish we could have been let in on the cyborgs' point of view. I would have liked to have known what they were thinking at crucial points throughout the book...instead of just the tantalizing hints the author gave us.

Nonetheless, The Empress of Mars is a notable addition to Baker's Company and well worth the time spent reading it.
5.0 out of 5 stars Utterly delightful. 17 Oct. 2010
By PhoenixFalls - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is a glorious book, Baker at the top of her form. It is indeed a "rollicking" adventure, full of high-jinx and one-upmanship, but more than that it is an ode to the pioneering spirit in general and the Old West in particular. It is what Joss Whedon's Firefly was at its best, full of broadly-drawn but charismatic characters scrapping together the sort of life no longer allowed in more "civilized" parts of the galaxy. There is a gold rush of sorts, and a cattle stampede, and skeezy nefarious types looking to balk our heroes at every turn; there is also corporate espionage, religious intolerance, and some major technical obstacles to overcome in the still largely un-terraformed landscape; but mostly there is just a group of misfits bands together with ingenuity, stubbornness, and a judicious application of force to forge a kinder -- but much less gentle -- society in the wilderness.

For longtime readers of the Company novels some familiar faces appear -- Eliphal and Joseph, though Joseph is going by another name -- and the hand of the Company is clear in everything that occurs; but that backstory is largely opaque to the newcomer to the series, so this novel does read well as a stand alone. A newcomer might find some of the implications about our future a little peculiar, but rest assured that any strangeness is explained in the larger series, and it's really not the point of this novel anyway. This is not science fiction with any particular scientific or political or philosophical bone to pick; it's pure, unadulterated fun, much like the Edgar Rice Burroughs Barsoom novels that the colonists lovingly pay homage to, except with less problematic gender and race relations and a veneer of scientific plausibility. (Baker does manage to keep the canals though.)
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