REVIEW: “Mars, the Dumping Ground of the Solar System” by Andrew Kozma

Review of Andrew Kozma, “Mars, the Dumping Ground of the Solar System”, Analog Science Fiction and Fact July/August (2020): 100–105 (Kindle) – Purchase Here. Reviewed by John Atom.

Contains spoilers.

Once a thriving colony, now Mars is nothing but a slum for poor people and unwanted genetically engineered humans. Jonquil is a government worker in charge of managing the different communities on Mars. One day, a Mercurian (a human genetically engineered to survive the harsh environment of Mercury) comes to his office and asks him for help to find her missing daughter. The Mercurian is worried that amid growing “anti-engineered” sentiments on Mars, her daughter might be in grave danger.

Kozma’s story has a couple of things going for it. The author delivers a fair amount of world-building in an effective and concise way, without overloading the prose with tiresome info-dumps. Unfortunately, the details of said world-building appear very poorly thought out. Aside from the scientific implausibility of terraforming Jupiter or, even worse, genetically engineering humans to survive on it, I find it impossible to believe that a humanity who’s able to colonize the entire solar system would treat the engineered so badly. The whole notion stinks of fabricated drama. Along similar lines, the plot of the missing girl builds up nicely throughout the story, but it concludes in a very anticlimactic way. The protagonist’s actions are irrelevant to the resolution, as things simply work out on their own.

Interesting in places, but overall this was a disappointing piece.