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Listen Up: Martian Chronicles by Cory Doctorow

The "Martian Chronicles" of the title is an extremely popular computer game played on Earth and, it turns out, taken very seriousy on Mars. In one way it's odd that Doctorow's story should have the same title as one of Bradbury's famous collections upon which a TV series was once based, but in the world of the story it makes sense that the game creators might chosen the title because it already carried some cache.

The story is narrated by young David Smith who has been very good at playing the game, but now he's on his way to Mars. Going to Mars means slowly losing links with Earth as the tin can he and a thousand other colonists are riding in moves away, and then slowly linking into Mars's web as they begin to approach.

Only, of course, it's not that simple. For one thing, David finds himself making real life friends, and they've got different points of view.

David comes from a fairly privileged background. In his world view there are only winners and whiners. Whiners are losers and should do something instead of complaining. The friends he makes aboard the tin can challenge this point of view. This story is not subtle in its moral, but is strangely engaging for all that. It's a young adult novella, putting me in mind of Anthony Horowitz stories except that here the young heroes are into spreadsheets and auditing. Go figure.

The audio version is available over at Starship Sofa, whose editor, Tony C Smith, enthusiastically suggests that the story is Hugo material. Smith's infectious enthusiasm is one of the charms of Starship Sofa. It's true, though, that if you're looking for something to listen to, this is a good one.

The Martian Chronicles by Cory Doctorow
read by Jeff Lane in three parts at Starship Sofa episodes 220 221 and 222

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