A series of AlternateHistory science fiction novels by Creator/SMStirling, consisting thus far of ''The Sky People'' and ''In The Courts of the Crimson Kings''. A {{Reconstruction}} of classic PlanetaryRomance novels and tropes for the modern audience, the novels explore a world built around a simple concept: what if Mars and Venus really were approximately like we envisioned them before all that boring reality got in the way?

As scientific observation of our nearest planetary neighbors intensifies during the early 20th century, it becomes clear that both worlds have oxy-nitrogen atmospheres much like our own. By 1948, the possibility of life on both is so strong that the Space Race kicks in early and ''keeps going'', radically altering political history from that point on as the UsefulNotes/ColdWar begins to lose importance and military spending is diverted to exploration. And when the Russians finally land a probe on the surface of Venus in 1962, the first image its cameras send back is of a dinosaur-infested jungle. And the ''second'' image is of ''[[NubileSavage a beautiful blonde woman]] in a FurBikini being chased by a savage horde of neanderthals''.

Two months later, when the American Viking probe tells us about [[UsefulNotes/{{Mars}} the canal-building biotech-using humanoid Martians]], the race to land on both worlds shifts into high gear.

But once contact has been made and permanent scientific studies begin, oddities begin to creep up. For one thing, the humans of Venus are entirely ''too'' human to be a product of parallel evolution -- a conclusion reinforced by the simultaneous discoveries that some tribes speak a language clearly descended from Indo-European, and that only two hundred million years ago the planet was an uninhabitable acid-veiled hothouse, becoming Earthlike practically in the blink of an eye as far as the cosmic timescale goes.

As evidence mounts that someone has been ''tinkering'' with the worlds of the solar system for millions of years, continuing right into the last few millennia, the question humanity must ask is: Who are the Lords of Creation, and what do they intend for their great multiplanetary experiment?

Not to be confused with ''Lords of Creation'', a very weird [[TabletopGames role-playing game]] published in the mid-Eighties.

!!This series provides examples of:

* AdventurerArchaeologist: Lampshaded and played straight in ''The Courts of the Crimson Kings''.
* AllAnimalsAreDomesticated: The others are not happy about Marc Vitrac raising a greatwolf pup as a pet.
* AlwaysChaoticEvil: The Neanderthals of Venus are presented as undilutedly vile and filthy creatures.
** Though they're only seen from the viewpoints of their enemies and/or victims.
** At one point a group of Neanderthals give their lives so the women and children can escape, and the main characters reflect that they might have misjudged them.
* ArtisticLicensePaleontology:
** [[JustifiedTrope Justified]] in that the Lords of Creation seeded Venus with Earthly lifeforms two hundred million years ago, and have been coming back and adding new batches of Earthly life roughly every two million years since then, including human specimens only a few thousand years ago; with no mass extinction on Venus, dinosaurs coexist semi-peacefully with critters from every era since. The harsher Martian climate, coupled with extensive bioengineering, averts this.
** [[InvokedTrope Invoked]] InUniverse near the beginning of ''The Sky People'', when an actual palaeontologist examines some fossils (and the surrounding rock) and realizes that what she's seeing isn't possible.
* AwesomeMomentOfCrowning: the Invisible Crown of the Tollamune Emperors supplies its ''own'' awesomeness, but the official ceremony is pretty darn impressive.
* BadassBookworm: Every Earth person not actually on Earth, as you ''have'' to be this just to qualify for the space program.
* [[strike:Bamboo]] [[BambooTechnology Shamboo Technology]]: Space travel is EXPENSIVE, which means the Venusian colonists have to make do with bronze age materials for their equipment wherever they can.
* BigCreepyCrawlies: [[JustifiedTrope The combination of lower gravity and higher oxygen pressure on Venus allows insects to grow to the size of Chihuahuas.]]
* ChessMotifs: [[SubvertedTrope Subverted]] in that [[VariantChess atanj, the Martian chesslike game]] from which many a motif is drawn, is ''vastly'' more complex than mere Earthly chess. With ships, merchants, boycotters, bribes, the possibility of pieces defecting on their own, as many as eight players, and the use of dice, it's more like ''TabletopGame/DungeonsAndDragons'' motifs in some ways.
* DarkSkinnedBlonde: Teesa and the rest of the Cloud Mountain People have olive skin and light blonde hair. The Venusians of Kartahown and its surroundings are mostly dark-haired, but some are either this or DarkSkinnedRedhead.
* DeadlyDecadentCourt: The City That Is A Mountain is ''made'' of this trope.
* DesertPunk: Mars.
* EverythingsBetterWithDinosaurs
* ExactlyWhatItSaysOnTheTin / NamesToRunAwayFromReallyFast: Two pirate vessels in ''Crimson Kings'' are called "Robbery With Armed Violence" and "Insensately Vicious Plunderer".
* FrazettaMan: the Wergu.
* GivingRadioToTheRomans: The Venusians get bows and arrows, plus steel-smelting technology from the humans. There's some concern about exactly where this is going to lead.
* HumanAliens: The Venusians ''are'' human, and the Martians have genetically engineered themselves to hell and gone but are still close enough to find humans attractive.
** Though most of them see humans as a race of uncultured, gluttonous dwarves that practically ooze sweat.
* HumanChess: ''Atanj'', the Martian version, see above.
* IKEAErotica: Happens due to the nature of the Martian language. ''"I request more energetic intromission, emphatic tense!"'' is the closest you can get to talking dirty.
* LawyerFriendlyCameo: all the science fiction writers gathered to watch the Mars probe images in the second novel's prologue.
** A justified example: ''New Frontier'' is this universe's version of ''Franchise/StarTrek'', and is fundamentally somewhat different due to differences in world culture, but is [[TropeMaker every]] [[TropeCodifier bit]] [[FountainOfMemes as]] [[TropeOverdosed influential]] as it is in our world.
* LostTechnology: All over the place, in the form of the Lords of Creations' stuff, but also the fact that the Martians are said to have lost a great deal of their own biotech.
* LostWorld: The ''entire planet'' of Venus.
* UsefulNotes/{{Mars}}
* TheMole: [[spoiler:Christopher Blair]].
* NubileSavage: Teesa of the Cloud Mountain People.
* OrganicTechnology: Deconstructed. Martians rely on this, in the absence of major metal and fossil fuel resources. Almost all technology more complicated than a sword is biological, to a very high level, with living guns (recharging after firing takes time, which is [[ArchaicWeaponForAnAdvancedAge why swords are not obsolete]]), living engines to supplement the sailpower of desert-crossing wheeled ships, rugs that crawl onto your feet to warm them, giant creatures that eat rocks and [[BowelBreakingBricks vomit road-paving material]]. However, Stirling points out that it requires food and oxygen, as well as being less durable then metal. It is useful enough that some of it has been imported by Earth.
* PlanetaryRomance: ''lots''.
* {{Precursors}}: the Lords of Creation, except that it seems they're not so much Pre- as ''Present''cursors. They're also [[NeglectfulPrecursors neglectful]], as ''something'' has gone wrong with their monitoring system and its "schedule" for the three worlds.
* RoyalBlood: [[JustifiedTrope Justified]] by the Invisible Crown and the Ruby Throne, which scan your DNA and ''kill'' you if you don't have the Tollamune genome. Given that the instrumentalities of both are vital to keeping Mars viable in the long term, the Tollamunes themselves have come to regret the system.
* SesquipedalianLoquaciousness: Martian Demotic is an extremely precise, detailed, and ''blunt'' language.
* ShoutOut: ''Tons''. Mostly to Creator/EdgarRiceBurroughs, but several to other sources.
** Teesa's dead former mate, [[Literature/EarthsChildren Jondlar]].
** The zeppelin ''Vepaja'' is named after the major friendly nation on Burroughs' Venus.
** ''[[WesternAnimation/IceAge Scrat]]'' of all rodents has a cameo on Venus, believe it or else.
** Christopher Blair. ''Videogame/WingCommander'' Christopher Blair no less.
** RodentsOfUnusualSize are found in the caverns under Olympus. Mind you, the "unusual" size is ''small''.
** A ''[[UpToEleven Scream Out]]'': "Hey, that's a stereotype. [[Franchise/StarTrek Like the unemotional half-Martian Science Officer on the Federation Starship]] ''[[Franchise/StarTrek New Frontier]]''..."
*** Even in our world, Spock was almost a Martian. The green makeup tested better on Nimoy than the red.
*** There's also a moment where someone says, "Resistance is futile," and one of his hearers grumbles, "Now he's quoting from a ''New Frontier'' episode...."
** The title "In The Court of the Crimson Kings" is a shout-out to the band Music/KingCrimson, and their album ''[[Music/InTheCourtOfTheCrimsonKing In the Court of the Crimson King]]''
** The convention scene in the opening chapter of "Courts of the Crimson Kings" which features just about every significant science-fiction author of the time.
** The "very weird dig" in Arizona that was the only exciting thing to happen to Jeremy Wainman before he went to Mars appears to be [[http://www.literature.org/authors/burroughs-edgar-rice/a-princess-of-mars/chapter-28.html the cave in which John Carter's body lay during his first astral trip to Barsoom]].
** When the excavating party are attacked by [[ItMakesSenseInContext feral engines]], there are [[Franchise/TheHitchhikersGuideToTheGalaxy 42]] of them, and the description of them sounds a lot like larger versions of [[Literature/TheWarOfTheWorlds H.G. Wells']] Martians. (It's even mentioned that if bred with too much intelligence, they'd try to escape. Escape to Earth, perhaps?)
* SingleBiomePlanet: Averted sort of; Mars has several ''varieties'' of "cold and dry", for example.
* StockDinosaurs: The species that flourished on Venus happen to be all the popular ones, like triceratops.
* ThatMakesMeFeelAngry: The [[PlanetOfHats hat]] of the Martians.
* TransplantedHumans
* VerticalKidnapping: [[OhCrap "FERAL ENGINES!"]]
* VestigialEmpire: The Tollamune emperors once ruled all of Mars. By the time of the story they are reduced to ruling the territory around their capital at Olympus Mons, where all the old court officials and functionaries continue, though largely without actual functions.
* ZeppelinsFromAnotherWorld: Used by the Earthling explorers on Venus and, in slightly more fantastical airship form, by the Martians.