Sunday, January 6, 2008

Rolling Thunder-John Varley

Rolling Thunder
John Varley
Ace, March 2008, $24.95, 352 pp.
ISBN: 9780441015634

Mars is an independent republic with colonies of its own having won the war with Earth and keeping the bubble technology for itself. The wave killed millions of people all over the land and made much of the land unusable for growing crops. It is considered hardship duty for anyone from the Martian military to be assigned earthside but Ensign Podkayne Strickland is a one woman show at the California when she is summoned home to say good bye to her ailing grandmother who is going into stasis until they find a cure for her.

Now Podkayne is a lieutenant assigned to the music, arts, and drama division based on Europa where the Crystal Mountains are a popular tourist sight. They send out very powerful radio waves but nobody knows what they mean or if there is life forms in the mountains. Podkayne is visiting the tourist attraction and she sees the crystal mountain named grumpy lift off. She goes into stasis and when she wakes up ten years have passed. Grumpy and six other mountaineers have landed on earth totally decimating the planet. Mars can’t take all the people who want to immigrate to earth, and fearful that the mountains will one day turn to Mars, Podkayne and her uncle Travis subsidize a way to avoid that possibility.

ROLLING THUNDER takes place sometime in the twenty-first century when humans have colonized the solar system. Podkayne is an interesting multi-faceted character, a singer who is in the military yet thinks like a Martian as she was born and raised there. The allure of Mars and their relationship to a slowly deteriorating earth is examined in much detail. The socio-political events are witnessed through Podkayne’s eyes and readers will empathize with the plight of earth yet like the Martians realize the people of the Red Planet can’t save everyone.

Harriet Klausner

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