Imagining Mars

At year's end, Robert Crossley's Imagining Mars: A Literary History will be published by Wesleyan University Press. Bob was my advisor when I did my M.A. in English at the University of Massachusetts-Boston in the mid-1990s; he's the one who got me interested in the critical study of science fiction. Fans of Martian literature will find this book absolutely invaluable. Here's a description and a blurb:

For centuries, the planet Mars has captivated astronomers and inspired writers of all genres. Whether imagined as the symbol of the bloody god of war, the cradle of an alien species, or a possible new home for human civilization, our closest planetary neighbor has played a central role in how we think about ourselves in the universe. From Galileo to Kim Stanley Robinson, Robert Crossley traces the history of our fascination with the red planet as it has evolved in literature both fictional and scientific. Crossley focuses specifically on the interplay between scientific discovery and literary invention, exploring how writers throughout the ages have tried to assimilate or resist new planetary knowledge. Covering texts from the 1600s to the present, from the obscure to the classic, Crossley shows how writing about Mars has reflected the desires and social controversies of each era. This astute and elegant study is perfect for science fiction fans and readers of popular science.
"I know of no other book that attempts such a vast survey, holding together the literatures of science fiction and of the scientific study of Mars. Crossley's focus allows him to analyze the relation of science fiction to the modern history of scientific understanding with a precision, authority, and textual detail that a more traditional history of the genre could never attain." (John Huntington, Professor of English, University of Illinois-Chicago