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Saturday, May 19, 2018

A Woman of Mars by Helen Patrice

A fascinating tale beautifully told

When preparing to write a review of Helen's latest book, THE COMMUNICANT AND OTHER STORIES, I realised I'd never reviewed this earlier book – instead I did an interview with her at the time it was published – so here goes: 

This is the most beautiful verse novel I've ever read. I don't mean a beautiful physical production – though it is that too, a nicely designed little hardback with artwork by Bob Eggleton. I mean that it is full of beautiful writing. And it tells a fascinating tale.

Perhaps I should call it a verse novella, as it's not very long – however, it does complete justice to its subject matter: a young woman in Earth's future who marries a famous astronaut and goes with him to be among the first colonists on Mars.

She experiences excitement, fear, homesickness, struggle, tragedy, love and wonder. The details of the colonists' survival on such a different world are entirely convincing.

Helen is an accomplished writer of speculative fiction as well as an excellent poet. Her combined talents make this an exquisite, haunting and very believable read. You don't have to appreciate poetry to enjoy this book – though those who do will be all the more delighted.

The back cover blurb is by the late great SF writer Ray Bradbury, who read this book not long before he died, and clearly loved it. As I do too. I don't know any reader who doesn't.

It was a limited edition by Stanza Press, on whose website I can no longer find it, but there are some used copies on Amazon. It has clearly now become a collector's item (deservedly) so the used copies are priced higher than the original price! But it is still affordable from some sellers.

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