Ever since space exploration first became a real possibility, the people of America have been looking towards the skies with hopeful wonderment. Finally, there is something more mysterious for humans to focus on than our own complicated lives. Susan Woodring’s collection of short stories,Springtime on Mars, captures this sense of the unknown, in regards to all that has been America’s pulse from the 1950’s to today.
The assassination of John F. Kennedy, walking on the moon, the Vietnam War, and UFO’s are all backdrops to Woodring’s stories as the characters try to understand their own universes of death, disappointment, and fear. If this book has one overall theme, I’d have to say it is fear of the unknown. By placing the stories in various time periods rich with American history, Woodring has managed to bring out the best in each plot, giving a wonderful contrast and lending much more to the flavor of each.
One thing that impresses me about any book or story, no matter the length, is a good ending. Most tend to peter out after the climax, and while they may tie up loose ends and give the reader a sense of closure, very few leave me with a sigh of good old fashioned readerly satisfaction. But I believe I got that sigh out of every one of Woodling’s stories. I actually found myself putting the book down to say, “Now, that was a good one,” before picking it up to start the next. Combine that with a constant shifting of time periods, most of which any reader will remember and hold a sentimental attachment to, and you have a great combination for staying on Mars straight through to summer.