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Author: Mark Terrence Chapman
Publisher: Shadowmere Publishing
My Rating: 4.75 of 5
Blurb: With Earth's population soaring to 30 billion, natural resources are fast running out. Humanity's best hope for survival is to mine Mars for the necessary minerals. But Mars is a harsh world with extremes of temperature and almost no atmosphere. Only a few miners live and work on the planet. Enter James McKie, rookie geologist, on his way to his first job out of school. Just getting to Mars is difficult enough. Surviving there is even tougher. At times the planet seems out to get him. And then there's the terrorist.... In the end, McKie makes an incredible discovery. But will it prove to be the key to terraforming Mars for human habitation--or a death sentence for them all?
Review: This is not the normal type of book for me but I am glad that I won this and got to read it! It is not a monster alien story but really a human story with action and murder mystery set in an unusual environment -Mars. Each chapter begins with a scientific entry from the "Encyclopedia Solaris 2176" or similar text, which I liked as a pretty simple way to present technical details to go along with the story!
In 2172, man has started explorations and mining of minerals on Mars to supply dwindling resources on an ever more crowded Earth. James McKie, is a 23 year old geologist, who sets off from his home in Winnipeg and travels to the Mars mining community for his first real job assignment. Traveling is new, strange and scary and gets quite a bit of detail. Then there is the challenge of surviving in the tough environment of Mars while trying to make great discoveries. On top of these day to day things, throw in a greedy murderer and you really get some action! James makes new friends, Daniel Lim and Kim, who create their own little "im"crowd - Lim, Kim and "Jim" who can be impishly impractical and impossible. Get the picture?! When Kim is taken hostage by a bomber, James and Daniel set off on a pretty drastic rescue mission and that is just the start of James' adventures. James meets interesting bosses and co-workers and even gets a girlfriend. Ultimately James makes a wonderful discovery but it has to be determined if it will be dangerous, like a killing virus, or something that can be controlled and helpful to Mars and humanity. During all this, the murderer is striking out and impacting James' friends and co-workers.
I really liked the fact that the characters are so life-like: young people entering the work world full of excitement, nervousness, embarrassment, guilt, etc.. Lots of real normal emotions. They are just regular young adults seeking to establish themselves, although the rescue maneuvers are a bit on the edge of too much risk taking! (Reminiscent of crazy acts from Lost in Space!) The writing was easy to follow and the issues were not complex. The presentation of technical scientific jargon and issues was done simply and did not detract in any way from the story. Plot lines were wrapped up and nicely concluded. I really loved one phrase early in the book and just have to share it: "This was the final straw, the ultimate thread in a richly-woven tapestry of frustration." Now doesn't that just shout frustration of a 23 year old? It did for me - I just really liked that! I recommend this book as a fun, action packed read!