By Tom Russo
Updated March 28, 2008 at 04:00 AM EDT

S.M. Stirling’s sequel to 2006’s The Sky People, In the Courts of the Crimson Kings, is a pulp throwback imagining an eons-old civilization on Mars. An Earth archaeologist’s exploration of the planet leads to adventure and romance with a native she-mercenary.

Movie Pitch
An alternative to that John Carter of Mars project that Hollywood keeps circling.

Stirling’s dialogue is the stuff of word balloons, but his unabashed odes to Edgar Rice Burroughs and Ray Bradbury are fun. B