A WOMAN OF MARS: The Poems of an Early Homesteader
by Helen Patrice
Stanza Press/PS Publishing
1 New Road,
Hornsea HU18 1 PG, England;
f14.00 GBP; 36 pages; 2011
Reviewed by Marianne Plumridge – May 2011
I had the good fortune to read “A Woman of Mars” in manuscript form two years ago. And upon rereading it now as a fully fledged anthology, I am still as riveted by the words and their vision as I was then. The author has written about a young woman who dreamed of the stars in childhood, only to step forward and volunteer as a colonist for the first push outwards to Mars. Never antiseptic, but with a bare minimum of prose, Ms Patrice vivifies the psychological pressures, the physical demands, and the emotional responses of her protagonist and the tiny colony as a whole. Risk, regret, hope, and more are washed with the very gritty red sands of Mars in this stark, but not bleak, telling. A first reading of this cycle of poems will leave the reader gripped by the story unfolding and the stories not told but sensed in between. Arrival, settlement, birth, death, psychosis, loss, living, existing, new myth and mysteries, survival, starvation, and testament to humanity all flow within these poems as humankind try to carve out a life for themselves and others on an unutterably alien world…where the word for green might almost be forgotten...
When Ray Bradbury read “A Woman of Mars: The Poems of an Early Homesteader” in manuscript form, he stated:
“Helen Patrice’s poems are little love letters not only to the Red Planet but also to the sense of alien wonder that is so often missing from imaginative fiction and poetry. Bravo to her! And bravo to Stanza Press for providing a platform for her work!”
A Woman of Mars is a slim volume of 34 poems told in chronological order about the first colony on Mars. The covers are Mars red augmented with drawings by Bob Eggleton. Upon opening the front cover, is found a gem of a watercolour painting acting as ‘Red Mars’ end papers. Inside the back cover is another, different painting depicting ‘Green Mars’ after the beginning of terra-forming. Eggleton’s drawing is nicely reused throughout as page edging and spot illustrations.
If I had one thing to contribute to a pioneer settlement reaching out for Mars, it would be this book. For each and every new venture has to have had an initial dream or vision to build upon to reach its goal. A Woman of Mars would be a very favourable start…
PS: Okay, there's a bit of nepotism here...my husband, Bob Eggleton, did the illustrations. :-D
Labels: Bob Eggleton, colonisation of Mars, Helen Patrice, Mars, poetry, science fiction poetry