Book Review: Champions of Mars / Author: Guy Haley / Publisher: Solaris / Release Date: Out Now
When one thinks of sci-fi stories featuring Mars, it’s usually one of two types of story; either it’s a John Carter style romp, set in a world of wild fantasy with mystic priests and almost magical technology, or it’s a gritty tale of men and women surviving in incredibly harsh conditions, typically with international politics and pseudo-scientific weirdness causing interesting things to happen.
Guy Haley’s Champion of Mars squares this circle by choosing to do both; the story is set both in the far, far future and near future, the tale swings between these two periods in order to give us a clearer view of the world Haley has created for us.
The distant future portion of the tale features the superhuman Yoechakanon and his eternal lover and spirit companion Kaibeli. The hero is appropriately square jawed and cunning, and some of the fight scenes are fantastic in every sense of the word. The pair of them set off on a quest to save the dying world of Mars, and discover the deeper secrets within.
Meanwhile, back in the near future, Dr. Holland has come to a research station on Mars to investigate newly discovered Martian live forms, as well as to recover from crippling post-traumatic stress caused by his tragic past. This segment of the book also introduced me to the word “Frankenphobe”, meaning the irrational hatred of artificial intelligence. It also happens to be a nice way of summing up an entire sociological shift in one word, which is pretty nifty.
Haley weaves the two tales into a tight and compelling narrative; at no point does the flip between eras feel forced, instead the reader is drawn to each element of the world as this epic adventure is told. Champion of Mars is not just a tale of two eras though; it’s also a thriller, an unnatural mystery and a strange sort of love story. Highly entertaining and original, and well worth a look.