This is sci-fi as it was meant to be. Not the fantasy goblins in space garbage that passes for sci-fi. This hovers on the edge of plausibility while mixing suspense with a sardonic wit. An astronaut is marooned and left for dead on Mars early in a Mars mission due to a storm, while his crewmates are forced to leave to return to Earth. By fluke serendipity he survives the storm. From there, it’s Robinson Crusoe on Mars. He’s lost communication with Earth because the main radio dish was blown away. Through sheer ingenuity, brilliance, and a lot of science, he devises a plan to survive until the next Mars mission, four years later. But that plan fails. That’s all I’ll say about the plot.
The research and knowledge that went into the writing of this book is mind-blowing. It’s a tribute to NASA and all the scientists, engineers, and visionaries of all types around the world who have made our tentative ventures into space a reality. There will be readers who get tired of all the technical explanations. Even I did as it neared the end, as the human drama was so compelling. But I’m enough of sciencist – not a scientist and certainly not a Scientologist – but a believer in and fan of science – that I just lapped it up. I’m also just ignorant enough to be unable to see what are no doubt some major holes in the science so I didn’t get turned off by any such quibbles. Just suspend your disbelief a smidgen and enjoy the ride.