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The Empress of Mars (The Company #8.5)

3.77  ·  Rating Details ·  860 Ratings  ·  130 Reviews
When the British Arean Company founded its Martian colony, it welcomed any settlers it could get. Outcasts, misfits and dreamers emigrated in droves to undertake the grueling task of terraforming the cold red planet--only to be abandoned when the BAC discovered it couldn't turn a profit on Mars.

This is the story of Mary Griffith, a determined woman with three daughters, wh
ebook, 304 pages
Published May 12th 2009 by Tor Books (first published 2009)
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David You can enjoy this book on its own. If you want to "deep dive" the whole series, follow the ones given whole numbers on GR through #8 (The Sons of…moreYou can enjoy this book on its own. If you want to "deep dive" the whole series, follow the ones given whole numbers on GR through #8 (The Sons of Heaven). The stuff marked .5 (like this one) or higher than #8 aren't really part of the series, just set in the same basic universe. That said, the main series can be a little uneven and you will love some, hate others. Personally, I didn't feel things picked up until the end of book 3 (Mendoza in Hollywood) and some of the later books get a little bodice-ripping in spots.(less)
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Community Reviews

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Amy Sturgis
Effortless is perhaps the best word I can use to describe Kage Baker's prose. The act of reading Baker's work, too, is effortless. Her ideas are multilayered and challenging, her references sly and knowledgeable, but falling into her world and her vision takes no work whatsoever. She opens the door, and I'm there. I do admire and miss her singular talent.

She had me at this early description: ""He had spent most of his adult life in Hospital and a good bit of his childhood, too, ever since (havin
This is one I'd missed since my prior reading of the series. Such rich stuff: a collection of misfits and eccentrics who boldly set out to terraform Mars find themselves in opposition to the corporation, BAC, who administers the colony, and which also tries to screw them over at every opportunity. Many of the colonists originally came up as employees with specialized skills, but then BAC dumped them with not enough money to pay their fare to earth or the moon.

Our cast includes Mary, the plucky b
Sep 12, 2013 David rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: ex-communicated goddess worshippers, Martian bartenders, ice haulers, Martian-Irish farmers
My first Kage Baker novel, and this is apparently a later entry in her "Company" series, but I found it stood alone just fine. The Empress of Mars is set in an alternate history, where Mars was settled by the British Arean Company, and then mostly left to dry up as unprofitable. A few hardscrabble settlers, emigrating to Mars for the usual reasons that misfits emigrate to backwater frontiers, or else abandoned by the Company when they were no longer useful, are now scratching out a living there. ...more
A corporate-funded attempt to settle Mars gets defunded after the settlers arrive, and the company isn't interested in spending the money it would take to get them back to Earth. Mary, once a company biologist with an interest in lichen, starts a pub and makes the best of things.

This is a fairly light-hearted, mildly humorous novel. It took me a while to figure out what it reminded me of, which is Pratchett's Discworld stories: a cast of broadly-drawn characters, with the book taking diversions
Mike (the Paladin)
I feel like I should say something like, "oh crap" here. I thought the synopsis of this book sounded good. it opened pretty well. We're in a universe where there seems to be a sort of resurgence of the British Empire into space fueled by private enterprise rather than government money.

Sadly it went off the rails and became rather ludicrous. It took several science fiction/science fantasy main-stays and lumped them all into a kind of odd soup of silliness.

I'm sure that everybody won't agree with
Aug 24, 2010 Lightreads rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A beerily maniacal skiffy romp. A bunch of social misfits do what people do when they’re shipped off to colonize Mars: run a bar, have babies, and give the bureaucrats a serious fucking headache.

The sort of cheerfully madcap book that has sentences like, “And that was the end of Marsha the cow,” and “’I’ll just go off and see an oppressive corporate monolithic evil entity about a dog, shall I?’” That really gives you all the flavor you need. There’s some other stuff about church power struggles
This is a great novel-length adaptation of the original The Empress of Mars novella.
Most of the book is set in "The Empress of Mars", the only bar on the young Mars colony. Mary Griffith barely manages to keep the bar solvent, helped by her three daughters and a number of outcasts (some of whom you'll be familiar with if you've read Baker's short story in The New Space Opera).
Kage Baker really shows off her trademark wit and easy-flowing style in this funny and at times moving story. In the nov
Dec 14, 2009 Wealhtheow rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sci-fi
Mary Griffith came to Mars to be a fancy-pants scientist, but when her research looked less than lucrative, the British Arean Company fired her, leaving her stranded on the desolate rock. Luckily, Mary had an indomitable spirit, three beautiful daughters, and knew how to make beer. These assets in hand, she rapidly became the proprietess of the most successful (and only) bar on Mars. But the rulers of Mars are less than pleased with her success, and she'll need every bit of her wit to survive... ...more
Julie Davis
Wanted something light and fun ... this reread is filling the bill. (Original review below.)


I'd give this 3-1/2 stars but will settle for 3.

I read about half of the books in Baker's "The Company" series before I stopped caring about it. This book is only tangentially connected to that series and I honestly didn't recognize the two obvious Company characters who were included.

It is an enjoyable "Western" romp on Mars as seen via Mary Griffith who runs the local saloon and represents soci
Dec 01, 2016 Emily rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: science-fiction
I found myself in a bit of an odd spot recently. I was done with everything I needed to read on a deadline, but unwilling to purchase anything new until Audible had run its post-Thanksgiving sale, so I pulled out my list of unread audiobooks, and found this toward the bottom, purchased in the 2013 Audible post-Thanksgiving sale (I've now read 9/13, putting me at about 70% for 2013's sale, which percentage wise is better than 2014 at 2/3).

It's too bad that I put this off for as long as I did. It
This is a glorious book, Baker at the top of her form. It is indeed a "rollicking" adventure, full of high-jinx and one-upmanship, but more than that it is an ode to the pioneering spirit in general and the Old West in particular. It is what Joss Whedon's Firefly was at its best, full of broadly-drawn but charismatic characters scrapping together the sort of life no longer allowed in more "civilized" parts of the galaxy. There is a gold rush of sorts, and a cattle stampede, and skeezy nefarious ...more
Jamie Collins
This is a fun book, set in the universe of "The Company", but it works well as a standalone novel. It's an expansion of Baker's novella of the same name.

The story takes place on Mars, obviously, in the 23rd century. There's a small group of bright, eccentric pioneers who more or less got stuck there when the corporation that sponsored the original settlement decided that Mars was an unprofitable venture. The remnants are scraping by, making the best of things, passing time, etc., until a new dis
Nov 19, 2013 Carmen rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Science Fiction fans
A science-fiction book about a human colony on Mars. There are no aliens. It was written in that kind of tongue-in-cheek sci-fi way. That means the characters were not fully fleshed out, more like eccentric caricatures made for our amusement. Of course, the hardships aren't too threatening and everything works out just fine for everyone in the end. You never feel like anyone is in real danger. Like a said, more a fun play than actual characters with actual dialogue and relationships.
Einar Nielsen
I liked this book although it could have ended a few pages earlier than it did. I was not surprised to discover that it had first been a novella as the book nearly has two ends. The first one deals with the main antagonist and the second just did not fit in my opinion. That being sad it did put a great spin on the settler tale by setting it on mars and drawing comparisons with the old west. It is a short story and I can recommend it for those who like Sci-Fi.
Elaine Nelson
Sep 18, 2009 Elaine Nelson rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, sci-fi
I just love Kage Baker. Vivid, clear, inventive, with Dickensian characters and a twisty-turny plot. Could not put it down. There's a tiny hint of the world that most of her books have been set it, but it doesn't feel overwhelmed by those plots and themes; it stands entirely on its own without any need to know that stuff. Big thumbs up.
Jim Mcclanahan
Jan 05, 2015 Jim Mcclanahan rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Another stellar Kage Baker story. Her characters and scenarios are uniformly excellent and imaginative. In this case, the palace intrigue and human interactions of the varied and diverse people involved in this tale of Martian colonization and erstwhile Terraforming efforts is fascinating and worthy of a read by anyone, irrespective of their genre preferences.
Rita	 Marie
Sep 13, 2016 Rita Marie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-sff
This book was apparently adapted from a novella, so that explains the kind of herky-jerky feel it has. Although not Kage Baker's best book ever, it's still pretty darn good -- outstanding writing, unusual characters, and exciting happenings.
Jul 01, 2009 Rachael rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sf
Substantially expands and improves the novella. The characters are strong enough for this story of the founding of Mars Two to be a stand alone. Those who have read The Company series will know the colony's fate, which gives the novel a sad weight that I imagine it lacks for newcomers.
Baker always exceeds my expectations. Her books are clever, funny, and full of heart. Thoroughly enjoyable. I can't wait to read the rest of the books set in this world.
Ann Tonks
Nov 23, 2016 Ann Tonks rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: science-fiction
I'm not a regular science fiction reader, but I found this book charming - and I don't think that's a word I've ever used about sci-fi literature in the past. With a feisty middle aged bar-owning heroine, there's a wild west feel to it but with a distinctly feminist feel to it. A truly imaginative piece of story telling.
Jun 06, 2017 Andi rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
There are some books you can just sink into, and this is one of them. I read the whole thing in one evening. This is my first novel by Kage Baker and definitely not my last.
Something rather miraculous happened. Last week, I checked out a book from the library by one of my favorite authors. I didn't recognize the title nor the description, and happily thought I had found a book of hers I hadn't read yet. So I took it home, put it on the dining room table and waited gleefully for the weekend when I could settle down in my jammies with a nice glass of something and my cat wedged into the chair beside me with this book.

Only to discover, one chapter in, that I HAD alre
Ron Arden
Feb 04, 2013 Ron Arden rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was supposed to be another Company book by Kage Baker, but I really wasn't sure who the company was. I don't think it was the British Arean Company. I had a guess near the end, but it was still unclear.

Having said that, this was a good old story about pioneers trying to make their way in the harsh world of the unknown, except it happened to be on Mars. I loved the characters and the general story of regular people fighting against the entrenched, corrupt interests.

The British Arean Company
Jan 01, 2013 Stephanie rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: fans of classic sci-fi, westerns, character and place driven narratives
Read by Nicola Barber.

This is a good old-fashioned space opera that focuses on the people in a sci-fi setting. In this case it’s on an incompetently, apathetically settled Mars. The misfit settlers of Mars stoically face the hardships Mars throws at them and unite as one in their hatred for the corrupt corporation, the British Arean Company, which bungled the Martian colonization. With an unexpected discovery, Mars’ future starts to look brighter but for whom? Most of the action centers on the
Sep 02, 2014 James rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Set on Mars in the distant future this enjoyable novel by Kage Baker was written with a style that reminded me a bit of some of the stories of Ray Bradbury. Mars has been settled initially by the equivalent of the British East India Company, who are of course interested in profit above all else. At first, they lure the best scientists in the hope of making Mars fruitful, but when that turns out to be more costly and difficult than expected, they abandon these people with only no support leaving ...more
David Willson
I would give this novel four stars, if I hadn't read so many five star novels by recently deceased Kage Baker.

Baker's more recent novels, set in the same universe as her Company series, are not nearly as satisfying. That is too bad, because she was an excellent author. The innovative overarching plot of Baker's eight-book Company series was a wry twist on the science fiction time travel genre which provided elements of danger and uncertainty that made the motivations of her characters more compe
This is really a fun sci-fi book. It has excellent characters and a cool premise--a British company went up to terraform Mars, changed their minds before they got very far, fired their experts, and left a lot of people stranded on Mars with no way to afford a ship back to Earth. The people stuck on Mars are left to make their own way on an extremely inhospitable planet, using whatever resources they can come up with.

The main character is Mary Griffith, the owner of Mars's only bar, The Empress
Jul 31, 2012 Ashley rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Contrary to Amazon's heading, this is not a Company book.* Its a standalone that is quite enjoyable. This is a Mars colonization story that mixes up a lot of good hints of British expansions existent in our own history.

This far flung futuristic (but how far? 4 generations? 5? 10?) tale is complete with a saloon, a migrant workforce, cowboys, gamblers, and beautiful daughters in need of saving.

Reading it you cannot miss homage to the classics, such as Edgar Rice Burroughs, and for me there was i
Lady Knight
While a good Sci-Fi effort, this was definitely not Kage Baker's best. The setting was well developped as were the characters, but I felt the plot was lacking. Over half the novel is spent lining up characters and introducing situations, after that the plot seems to machine gun through the action. Felt very fast after such a slow lead-up.

Although set in the same universe as her Company novels, I didn't see much evidence to support that claim. Jovian insdustries (or is it enterprises?) makes a b
Jan 16, 2012 steven rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Probably a more realistic portrayal of Martian colonization than most people would like to admit.

The corporation that started the colonization process has become corrupt, exploiting the people who live on Mars because they're the "wrong sort" - that is, they're ideal colonists (because they're expendable), but they're not being good little workers and dying when they're not needed.

That's not to say Mars isn't downright dangerous; people die in almost every chapter. But amongst the death, destruc
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Born June 10, 1952, in Hollywood, California, and grew up there and in Pismo Beach, present home. Spent 12 years in assorted navy blue uniforms obtaining a good parochial school education and numerous emotional scars. Rapier wit developed as defense mechanism to deflect rage of larger and more powerful children who took offense at abrasive, condescending and arrogant personality in a sickly eight- ...more
More about Kage Baker...

Other Books in the Series

The Company (1 - 10 of 11 books)
  • In the Garden of Iden (The Company, #1)
  • Sky Coyote (The Company, #2)
  • Mendoza in Hollywood (The Company, #3)
  • The Graveyard Game (The Company, #4)
  • The Life of the World to Come (The Company, #5)
  • The Children of the Company (The Company, #6)
  • The Machine's Child (The Company, #7)
  • The Sons of Heaven (The Company, #8)
  • Not Less Than Gods
  • In the Company of Thieves

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