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Taking place in the kaleidoscopic future of Ian McDonald's Desolation Road, this novel 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.
fallen asleep without knowing. Sweetness came to herself with a gasp and shudder. No nod, no doze, this; she woke with the light of early morning full in her face. Huddled over in her web of cables, she had slept away entire cantons and quarterspheres. The sun was a spreading scab of blood on the western horizon, clotted between the continental upthrusts of the Great Volcanoes, the only hint of the terrible war that had been fought in the dark. The air was miraculously clear and bright; light
lurched over points. Fingers groaned. Fingers slipped a fraction. Sweetness ducked under the handrail, anchored her feet over the lip of the roofwalk and stretched down over the sloping truck side. One-handed, she aimed the djubba-stick as close as she dared to the fingers. “This is going to come fast, so don't shy away or anything stupid like that.” A second lurch threw her aim. The club-head shot within a whisker of the pale soft hand. The fingers almost flinched. Almost. “Grab hold!”
own train and go off in a cloud of steam into the sunset and we'll found our own Domiety and one day they'll name a station after us and that'll stop me for ten, maybe twenty seconds—if you've played it right—and I'll say something like, well, I always loved you too, like for years, since you were this size and I was that size and all those years, we never knew it, and now it's too late because I've got to go, I've got a life waiting for me, and I turn around and walk right out of here and that's
Overstuffed bladders of helium were wedged painfully between them like bloated hookers in too-tight suspenders. “Stop here,” Devastation Harx commanded. The acolyte pulled on a brass brake and flung the door open on a railed catwalk between the pillowy lift bags. “Come and see.” In places Sweetness had to duck down between straining sacks pushed flatly against each other like inflated breasts. “How much did they charge you for this?” she said to Serpio. “Three hundred dollars over two years,
Two strokes brought her sliding in front of Psalli. “Why not?” Psalli glanced beyond the stepped terraces of water tanks to the truck gardens. “They won't bother you,” Sweetness said. “They keep looking and waving.” “So? Okay. Then we'll give them something to look and wave at.” A heave brought Sweetness out of the water in a cascade of fat drops. Balanced like a gymnast on the narrow lip, she drew herself up to her full one point seven five bare-ass metres. Honey-skin dewed with