A Mars of the imagination, like no other, in a colorful, witty SF novel, taking place in the kaleidoscopic future of Ian McDonald's Desolation Road, Ares Express is set on a terraformed Mars where fusion-powered locomotives run along the network of rails that is the planet's circulatory system and artificial intelligences reconfigure reality billions of times each second. One young woman, Sweetness Octave Glorious-Honeybun Asiim 12th, becomes the person upon whom the future—or futures—of Mars depends. Big, picaresque, funny; taking the Mars of Ray Bradbury and the more recent, terraformed Marses of authors such as Kim Stanley Robinson and Greg Bear, Ares Express is a wild and woolly magic-realist SF novel, featuring lots of bizarre philosophies, strange, mind-stretching ideas, and trains as big as city blocks.
“Ares Express is a long, adventure-filled, extravagantly colorful, often funny, quite moving, highly imaginative, excellently written story, set on a glorious Mars built partly of sharp-edged Kim Stanley Robinson-style extrapolation, but mostly of lush, loving, Ray Bradbury-style semi-SF, semi-Fantasy, Martian dreams.... I loved it wholeheartedly.” – SF Site
“Hugo-winner McDonald’s virtues have long been underappreciated by major North American publishers... McDonald’s fantastic Mars is vividly detailed and owes much to Bradbury’s Martian stories. Despite a bit of hand waving around technology that is glibly indistinguishable from magic, this sequel is entirely worthy of its rightly lauded predecessor [Desolation Road].” – Publishers Weekly
“One of the strangest, weirdest, fantastic reads of your life.” – SF Crowsnest
“McDonald is clever, lyrical… snarky, and utterly wondrous. The characters would be completely unbelievable in our world, but in theirs they are inevitable...” – Night Owl Reviews
Hugo-winner McDonald s virtues have long been underappreciated by major North American publishers, which may be why it took nine years for this sequel to 1988 s Desolation Road to make it from the U.K. to the U.S. Dissatisfaction over an arranged marriage and an ill-considered act of charity sends Sweetness Octave Glorious Honey-Bun Asiim Engineer 12th away from the train that was her home and into an epic journey across a terraformed far-future Mars. Sweetness s efforts to recover her twin sister s ghost from glib religious con man Devastation Harx entangle her in a conflict that spans time and multiple realities. McDonald s fantastic Mars is vividly detailed and owes much to Bradbury s Martian stories. Despite a bit of hand waving around technology that is glibly indistinguishable from magic, this sequel is entirely worthy of its rightly lauded predecessor.