Thursday, July 21, 2011

Review of Visions of Mars, a new academic collection of essays & articles on the Red Planet in fiction and science

Paul Kincaid of the SF Site provides a fascinating review of Visions of Mars: Essays on the Red Planet in Fiction and Science (2011), an academic volume examining the way Mars has been depicted in literature, film and popular culture that was published by McFarland last spring.

In short, Kincaid concludes: “Yet, short as the book is, and 17 essays are crammed into little more than 160 pages, the two panel transcriptions that wind up the book feel like little more than padding. It might have been entertaining to attend the events, but on the page they really tell us little. Like so much of this book, it somehow feels like a wasted opportunity.”


  1. In summary, "I guess you had to be there". I think the problem is that (a) this book is really a set of conference proceedings, but (b) publishers don't like publishing conference proceedings, so (c) the editors give it a fancy title which suggests it's more than just conference proceedings, but (d) it doesn't live up to the fancy title.

    And I speak as someone who is IN this particular volume.

    I don't think it's as worthless as Kincaid makes out. At the very least it's useful to have such as diverse range of essays (and their references) in a single volume. However, once you have read Robert Crossley's masterful book IMAGING MARS, you don't really need another study of Mars in fiction.

  2. Phil: Excellent points. I bought VISIONS OF MARS but have read only the preface so far!

  3. Probably the best part...

    By the way, I mis-typed: I meant Robert Crossley's IMAGINING MARS (which you have covered on your blog previously).

  4. Phil: There is also DYING PLANET: MARS IN SCIENCE AND IMAGINATION (2005) and the awesome pictorial DESTINATION: MARS IN ART, MYTH, AND SCIENCE (1997), both of which I own.