Allen M. Steele. The Emperor of Mars. (Asimovs June 2010).

Steele revisits a theme from a previous story of his, although with an sfnal rather than a fantasy element. Worryingly, ‘The Days Between’ was in Asimovs in March 2001 – very, very close to ten years ago, and it doesn’t seem that long to me! In that earlier story, the second in his Coyote series, an unfortunate crewmember is awoken from cryogenic suspension, and is forced to live out the rest of his mortal days alone. He suffers from alcoholism and then ‘insanity’ and writes copious stories about one Prince Rupurt, and paints the ships walls to illustrate this stories. Here, on Mars, a young worker on the colony hears that his entire family has been wiped out in an auto accident back on Earth, and he too falls into a makebelieve world. In his case it is Barsoom, as he consumes all the SF literature of bygone times which postulated a green Mars. It’s on OK story, but in a blind taste testing I’d have it down as an Analog story rather than an Asimovs.

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