Stories about artists in a science fiction setting is a topic I find interesting, but it is somewhat rare, as many science fiction writers are engineering or science focused. “Zima Blue” by Alastair Reynolds and “The Hydrogen Sonata” by Iain M. Banks are worthy mentions. This short story about the first painter on Mars is a good read too.

The story follows Susan Rose, an established painter that gets the chance to be the first painter on Mars. She struggles and experiment with painting in free fall and lower gravity, with her style adapting along the way. She paints hundreds or thousands of pictures of various landscapes on Mars, while pondering the philosophical ramifications of being the first to interpret another world compared to thousands of years of humans doing the same on Earth.

There isn’t much of a story here, but it makes up for it with well written poetic musings of artistic work that makes for pleasant reflective reading.

Read in Analog May/June 2024
Rating: 4