Reviews

A Martian Odyssey, by Stanley G. Weinbaum

clanhay's review against another edition

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2.0

This short story is a glimpse into the imagination of a science fiction writer in the 1930’s. To say the ideas are dated would be quite an understatement.
Here are a few points that got my attention.
The humans had to undergo months of acclimating so they could breathe easily in the Martian atmosphere.
Watches are analog.
Their weapons were either revolvers or pistols.
The airplane like flying craft used a continuous controlled nuclear blast to create lift but was maneuvered by a motor that was difficult to start.
There are many more of these but I can’t remember them now. It’s a fun short read, so check it out if you enjoy classic scifi and see how many quirks you can find.

thorkell's review against another edition

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4.0

A Martian Odyssey by Stanley G. Weinbaum (1934) was a lot of fun. It deals with life on other planets, this time (as so often back then) on Mars. What I liked about the story was that it was open for different form of life (not just carbon based lifeforms) and it dealt with interesting aspect of language. It also shows the limitless faith people had in science and what we could find in space.

The story is out dated but it is still very charming and entertaining.

wynnieflorence's review against another edition

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funny lighthearted medium-paced

3.75

silenttardis's review against another edition

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5.0

Brilliant story about a Lost astronaut in Mars and the story he told of his time Lost

frakalot's review against another edition

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adventurous funny informative lighthearted fast-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? A mix
  • Strong character development? It's complicated
  • Loveable characters? Yes
  • Diverse cast of characters? It's complicated
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? No

4.0

Darmok and Jalad at Tanagra. Shaka, when the walls fell.

This was great. It's told like four guys are sitting around a bar and trying to one-up each other's stories about the biggest fish they nearly caught. Well, rather one of the lads is telling the story and it's all about the strangest aliens he ever saw, which of course get progressively more unbelievable to his pals at the table as his tale goes on. It's quite a lot of fun and I thought the banter was generally giggle worthy.

The tale presents a menagerie of fascinating Martian creatures, varying wildly in intelligence, form and behaviour. One of the creatures we meet is even silicone based which was a very novel idea in 1934. 

The fellow delivering this tale makes a lot of assertions about what he saw on his Trek across the Martian desert and his mates are always quick to pull him up on it, by asking him how he knows that what he claims is so. Luckily, our storyteller is equally quick to come back with ~fairly~ reasonable logical deductions. 

The creature we learn the most about is called Tweel and is an ostrich-like, intelligent being. The larger portion of this short story focuses on the pair overcoming their communication barriers, (hence my TNG reference at the beginning). Probably my favourite concept in the story was that Tweel's language was not static. 

"Our minds simply looked at the world from different viewpoints, and perhaps his viewpoint is as true as ours".

I thought this was impressively self aware in the way it was handled. Although he couldn't quite explain how Tweel was thinking, he could recognise Tweel's intelligence and intent. He would consistently acknowledge that although Tweel's way of interpreting and explaining the world seemed ludicrous to him (and by extension us), our ways were likely equally ridiculous to Tweel. He goes so far as to suggest that Tweel may even possess greater intelligence than we do. 

I was super enjoying this so it was disappointing to have to cringe through a few terribly racist lines, (ironically lacking that self-awareness), on the supposed intelligence capacity of so called "primitives". All that these lines serve to do now is remind us of how stupidly ignorant our predecessors could be at times. Almost like they were thinking primitively. Anyway, thankfully this is a short story and it really did only tarnish a few lines of the dialogue.

There's a sequel, which is also short, so I'm off to check that out next.

a_pi_pilgrim's review against another edition

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4.0

This short story by Stanley G. Weinbaum proves that it is not about the number of pages or words in a story/book - what matters is the passion and potency of the imagination!

In about 30 pages, Stanley G. Weinbaum takes you to Mars and then on an amazing journey. First published in 1934, A Martian Odyssey is about one of the experiences of the famous crew of the Ares expedition - the first human beings to set foot on the mysterious neighbour of the earth, the planet Mars.

A science-fiction classic!

zadel's review against another edition

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adventurous mysterious fast-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? A mix
  • Strong character development? Yes
  • Loveable characters? Yes
  • Diverse cast of characters? It's complicated
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? It's complicated

4.0

erikshafer's review against another edition

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3.0

hilariously outdated, but cute

blchandler9000's review against another edition

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3.0

Truth be told, the edition of the book I read is not on Goodreads for some reason, so I'm putting my review here.

After reading a great short story by this author in a scifi anthology about Venus, I seeked him out to see where else he could take me.

Weinbaum had a career that was brief but prolific, and notable for his ability to imagine new worlds. All of his "Planetary" stories are collected into one volume here, spanning from Venus to Mars, to the moons of the gas giants, and even out to little, black Pluto.

The science might annoy the pedantic; Weinbaum was writing in the 1930s when information about the solar system's planets and moons was largely guesswork, so here Jupiter heats its moons, Mars is criss-crossed with canals, Venus is tidally locked with the sun, and so on. But if you're reading these stories for realism, you're doing it wrong. Weinbaum's gifts were not hard science, but pure fabrication. The best of these stories use those talents to their fullest, describing life forms and ecosystems quite unlike those seen on Earth. "A Martian Odyssey" and "The Lotus Eaters" are probably the best examples, with their intelligent plants, stone-eating organisms, and drum-critters whose motivations seem totally nonsensical to our Earthly eyes. Exploring those worlds with the protagonists is pretty fun.

Not all of the stories are brilliant, of course, and some seem redundant. There's a lot of survival-type tales, some more imaginative than others, with people scaling frozen mountains or running from deadly creatures. There's a few romances, too, most of which seem to work under the stress-equals-love trope as astronauts scale said mountains and run from aforementioned creatures. There's an amusing amount of capitalism driving the plots. Every planet has something people want to sell, and many characters are in it for the money, not the thrill of discovery. Some of the ideas in these stories seem like scifi standards now—such as space pirates, or the alien who takes the shapes of its prey—but these surely must be among the first examples of such cliches, and such well-worn routes are sometimes fun to visit.

ashleym10148's review against another edition

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4.0

I enjoyed this short story. It was a fun read and I loved all the different aliens and creatures there were. It was very entertaining.