Champion of Mars

By Guy Haley

Rating: 4 stars

It took a while to get into this story, but once I figured out the flow, it was much smoother. It’s a tale told from both ends of history: in the early 22nd century, Dr John Holland is a scientist studying the remains of Mars’ native life, before the terraforming effort wipes it out; while in the far, far future, Mars is dying a second time and the disgraced champion Yoechakenon and his spirit lover Kaibeli are tasked with finding the long-lost Great Librarian of Mars to save it. We also have chapters that cover the future history between these two time periods, as we jump further and further into the future, and see how the two are linked.

I really liked the tone of the piece. I liked that the voice of the near future was so different to the far future. The near-future stuff was no-nonsense hard SF, while the far-future felt much more mythic and grand in scope, reminding me of Edgar Rice Burroughs‘ Barsoom.

The novel is also concerned with AI and how it will co-evolve with us over the millennia in a symbiotic relationship. Add to that a form of human immortality, as a person’s memories are recorded at death, and later returned (to some degree) to other, newborn bodies at some time in the future, and we have the makings of a love story that spans the ages, as an AI spirit follows the one she chose across time and space.

I’ll confess that I wasn’t sure it was all going to come together, but it did so in the last few chapters, as it tied the whole story together and links Holland’s time to that of Yoechakenon. So a lot of good ideas and some writing that’s very enjoyable to read. It can be a little clunky at times, but I found it worth persevering.

Book details

ISBN: 9781907992841
Publisher: Solaris
Year of publication: 2012

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