Mars is in crisis. Ten years after its formation the Earth colony on the red planet has yet to produce a healthy child. Every baby has been deformed and stillborn. With Earth overpopulated and at war, the success of the Mars experiment is crucial to the survival of the human race. Something must be done to ensure its future.
In Finches of Mars, Brian Aldiss has produced a fascinating and thought-provoking novel that considers the practicalities of man’s exploration of space. It is shot through with the trademark wit and visionary philosophy which have been ever present across the seven decades of his writing career.
Those expecting a feather in the cap of Aldiss's long and distinguished writing career will be disappointed by the utter failure of this disjointed series of vignettes, set in a vague near future. It's meant to tell the tale of a major problem facing a Martian colony: the colonists' inability to produce live offspring. As a narrative, it lacks cohesion, jumping back and forth between Earth and Mars and among characters with little apparent point. Aldiss belabors the tragedies of the stillbirths and the seemingly endless wars that have embroiled the entire Earth (but that don't seem to personally affect any of the characters). The story is further clogged by scientifically nonsensical elements with no mention of terraforming, the pressure and outdoor temperatures on Mars are now comfortable and wrapped up with a textbook case of deus ex machina that renders the entirety of the story utterly irrelevant.