Maelstrom and Other Martian Tales

Maelstrom and Other Martian Tales

Illustration By Lee Moyer
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Dust jacket illustration by Lee Moyer.

Mars is an old world, one that has been mapped by science fiction writers for over a century. The late Nebula and Locus Award winning writer Kage Baker was among the most skilled cartographers to render the Red Planet as full of life and love, hope and heroism.

Gathered together here for the first time are all of Baker’s Mars stories, beginning with “The Empress of Mars,” for which she won the Theodore Sturgeon Memorial Award. It was in this story that Baker first laid out her vision of our neighboring planet, with its patchwork quilt of societies based in part on the history of the British Empire. Here are Celts and colonialists side by side with adventuring Haulers who bring ice from the poles and missionaries who bring the message of their goddess from Luna.

These tales are all part of an imaginatively worked out near future, where raucous frontier people intermingle with devoted terraformers in an uneasy mix overseen by Areco, Baker’s version of the British East India Company. Turn by turn, each story sets its protagonists the task of understanding and altering a world that resists change.

In “The Empress of Mars,” a woman gathers her family—her children along with outcast Eccentrics—and turns an unexpected windfall into the founding of a place they can be proud to call their own. “Plotters and Shooters” recounts a series of incidents in an orbital defense station involving characters who may be delightfully familiar. In “Maelstrom,” one of the Eccentrics remakes himself into a theatrical impresario, founding a theater that serves as “a cathedral to pure weirdness.” Finally, in “Attlee and the Long Walk,” a young child of the agricultural tunnels takes a journey through both her physical and emotional worlds, making unexpected discoveries in both.

Maelstrom and Other Martian Tales stands as a testament to the gritty and glorious imagination of a writer gone too soon. These are remarkable stories by a remarkable author.


Limited: 750 numbered hardcover copies


Table of Contents:

  • The Empress of Mars (novella)
  • Plotters and Shooters
  • Where the Golden Apples Grow (novella)
  • Maelstrom
  • Attlee and the Long Walk


The Empress of Mars

There were three Empresses of Mars.

The first one was a bar at the Settlement. The second was the lady who ran the bar; though her title was strictly informal, having been bestowed on her by the regular customers, and her domain extended no further than the pleasantly gloomy walls of the only place you could get beer on the Tharsis Bulge.

The third one was the Queen of England.


Plotters and Shooters

I was flackeying for Lord Deathlok and Dr. Smash when the shuttle brought the new guy.

I hate Lord Deathlok. I hate Dr. Smash too, but I’d like to see Lord Deathlok get a missile fired up his ass, from his own cannon. Not that it’s really a cannon. And I couldn’t shoot him, anyhow, because I’m only a Plotter. But it’s the thought that counts, you know?


Where the Golden Apples Grow

He was the third boy born on Mars.

He was twelve years old now, and had spent most of his life in the cab of a freighter. His name was Bill.

Bill lived with his dad, Billy Townsend. Billy Townsend was a Hauler. He made the long runs up and down Mars, to Depot North and Depot South, bringing ice back from the ends of the world. Bill had always gone along on the runs, from the time he’d been packed into the shotgun seat like a little duffel bag to now, when he sat hunched in the far corner of the cab with his Gamebuke, ignoring his dad’s loud and cheerful conversation.

There was no other place for him to be. The freighter was the only home he had ever known. His dad called her Beautiful Evelyn.



Mr. Morton was a wealthy man. He hated it.

For one thing, he wasn’t accustomed to having money. During most of his life he had been institutionalized, having been diagnosed as an Eccentric at the age of ten. But when the British Arean Company had needed settlers for Mars, the Winksley Hospital for the Psychologically Suspect had obligingly shipped most of its better-compensated inmates off to assist in the colonization efforts.


Attlee and the Long Walk

Attlee trudged home to the allotment shelter where she had lived with her mum since her dad had been killed. It was smaller than the place they’d lived in before, of course; as the Council had said, there was no reason to waste a good shelter on just two people when a family could make better use of it. Attlee’s mum had sighed and nodded in agreement, too weary with grief to argue about it. Later—in private, to Attlee, on the understanding that Attlee would never ever tell anyone—she had laughed sadly and remarked that neither the old place nor the new would have done for a garden shed back on Earth anyway. Attlee had just shrugged. She’d never seen Earth.




Kage Baker
Lee Moyer
264 pages