Uncle Tars Tarkas
brings holiday presents to
the cowboys of Mars.
I picked this up because I'm a sucker for a John Carter pun, aren't I? You should be too. This is totally unconnected to any of the Burroughs stuff excluding proper nouns of places & the occasional reverential callback. I was skeptical about this book at first: I don't think I like the protagonist of the frame story one bit. Once she steps off the stage & some of the other characters step on, it really picks up. I mean, I was chuckling out loud. Mary, the eponymous character, owns a bar on Mars, which is posited as the new frontier, in no uncertain terms. She's a little bit too "salt of the earth" or something for my taste; while the other characters have dimensions to them, she's a bit cardboard even considering her botany background (there is a bit at the very, very end, where she flips a switch, that took a look at her from a decent angle). Still, the other characters charm, & once you realize that Baker really knows what she's talking about, put her idiosyncrasies in context, they bloom too. The Neopagan church & Pan-Celt Ren Faire people are particularly who I mean, to put a finer point on it. What could have been really annoying is worth another look: Kage Baker is irreverent, & not exclusive on those folks: the Kathmandu Post, Sherpas, & socialists all get a fair shake at the end of the day. Here is the real clincher: the bad guys are threatening, the danger is credible, but you never doubt that the good guys are going to come out on top.
Here is a question for you: what happened to Mona?