Robert Crossley's new book of criticism, Imagining Mars: A Literary History, is now available from Wesleyan University Press. I've been waiting years for this one. Here's the cover description:
"For centuries, the planet Mars has captivated the human imagination 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 seventeenth century 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, readers of popular science, and anyone interested in the interplay of scientific discovery, society, and the imagination."
When I was in graduate school at the University of Massachusetts-Boston, I co-taught a course on Martian literature with Bob, who was my M.A. advisor. That was in 1997. This book has been a long time in the making and promises to be the best work of one of science fiction criticism's most distinguished scholars.