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Tales of the Phoenix

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Overview

A future Mars, one thousand years from now, which has collapsed back into a Medieval age was the backdrop for the 2015 short story anthology Medieval Mars. This story world idea imagined that Mars will be gifted with an even thicker atmosphere than Earth. That, coupled with Mars lower gravity, would make airships with relatively small gondolas possible, of the sort common in steampunk artwork. It also would make it possible for human beings to ride giant birds, especially in the places on Mars where the atmosphere is thickest. (And genetically engineered Komodo dragons also take flight within the pages of Medieval Mars.)

 

Human beings living on Mars as portrayed in Medieval Mars looked back at the past as time where technology became indistinguishable from magic. So the characters in these stories called the past The Age of Magic and revered swords made of titanium and other advanced metals from that time and the few bits of technology (like book readers) still remaining. Lithium smiths became the common term for those able to build batteries and electrical circuits, a term eventually applied to all experts in the technological past.

 

The story world also imagined that Spanish-language Baptists would spark a religious revival at some point prior to the main action of the stories, making a form of Protestant religion become steeped in nearly Medieval tradition. Making Spanish the language of prayer for most inhabitants of Mars.

 

Kristin Stieffel has crafted three novellas set within the backdrop of the world described above*. Tales of the Phoenix* contains all three novellas. The first of these, Flight, was itself featured within the pages of Medieval Mars. Its two sequel stories, Storm and Battle, havent been previously published anywhere.

 

Kristins Kingdom of Marineris is among the most technologically advanced societies on future Mars. Though even they really are only beginning to rebuild the world of scientific studies, the Age of Science.

 

These stories are rich in worldbuilding details, though even more focused on the memorable characters the stories portray.

 

Reviews

"In the story Tales of the Phoenix by author Kristen Stieffel, this Reviewer found himself returned to the fictional world of Medieval Mars Terraformed Interplanetary Volume I, an anthology published in 2015 by Travis Perry. This is a future Mars, one thousand years from now that has collapsed back into a medieval age. The time of humankind’s advanced science and planetary explorations is called “The Age of Magic”. “Lithium smiths” are people able to build batteries and electrical circuits, utilizing what technology exists.

This story world recognizes a type of Protestantism from Spanish-language Baptists who’ve sparked a religious revival sometime prior to the story elements. Therefore, Spanish is the language of prayer for most inhabitants.

The book is composed of three novellas: “Flight,” “Storm,” and “Battle.” Only the Kingdom of Marineris has made any technological advancements. They are at the beginning of rebuilding the Age of Science.

Astrid is a former flyer, that is, a flight jockey of enormous birds. Upon growing into young womanhood, she is now too heavy for the birds to carry. She functions as a groomer now. And despises it. Curious to a fault, she investigates a strange dirigible—or, a flying, sailing ship—that ferries Lady Eleanor, Govnor (Governor) of Noctis, to the airborne races. Intrigued by the ship, Astrid investigates it during a race and meets its captain, Ian Kahoon, an intriguing young man in his own right.

Fleshed out with fully rounded characters, the stories are very enjoyable. The world building is first rate and highly imaginative. Family friendly and quite good, I highly recommend Tales of the Phoenix."

-- Richard New

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