RaveThe Wall Street JournalThe book’s appearance in this distinguished series provides fresh evidence that, despite occasional skepticism from critics and scholars, O. Henry has secured a place in the country’s literary pantheon ... His body of work presents a challenge, though. Enjoying a story by O. Henry can devolve into a guessing game ... More than a century later, O. Henry keeps on getting the last laugh.
Sarah Stewart Johnson
MixedThe Wall Street JournalAs [Johnson] displays the love of discovery that drives so much scientific inquiry, it’s easy to cheer her on ... The Sirens of Mars is an elegy, though its author may be too hopeful to realize it ... Ms. Johnson remains upbeat: Life, she writes, is \'stunningly resilient.\' Maybe it lies buried beneath the Martian soil, where we haven’t found it yet. Conceivably it could arise from \'an entirely different molecular foundation.\' She likens this notion to \'trying to imagine a color we’ve never seen\'—and when she does, her yearning for signs of life starts to feel more like fantasy than science. What might be a cautionary tale becomes for her an opportunity to wax lyrical ... Great advances can spring from apparent defeat, of course. Perhaps the Mars Perseverance rover, scheduled to launch from Cape Canaveral in a few weeks, will enjoy better luck. At some point, however, we may want to admit that the red planet is a dead planet—and that the search for life on Mars is a siren song.