IN THE MAIL: S.M. Stirling’s new novel, The Sky People, an alternate-history kind of science fiction novel in which the cold war was much cooler — and so was Venus. Mars, on the other hand, is warmer. Neat idea. Here’s how he described it in an interview I did with him a while back:

Right now I’m working on an alternate history series which might be summed up as “What if the background of some of the pulps existed in the real world?”

In the 1950’s, we discovered that Earth was definitely the sole inhabitable planet in this solar system, which was a terrible blow to traditional SF.

In my new alternate history, we discover instead that we have two other habitable, and in fact inhabited, planets. Mars is a cold, dry world of ancient ruined cities, thinly peopled by the decadent descendants of lost civilizations (or are they?); Venus a hot, wet, fecund one of primitive humans (and other hominids) with an archaic fauna.

Then I try to treat everything else in as densely realistic a style as I can. It makes for an interesting contrast.

Looks good. Cool cover, too.