James Discusses New Mars Novel

Thomas James, coauthor of a new novel about Mars, “In the Shadow of Ares,” discussed the book at a December 20 event hosted by Liberty On the Rocks.

I also added the following comments to Amazon:

I have been fascinated with Mars as the next frontier since reading Robert Zubrin. “In the Shadow of Ares” lets us imagine actually living on the red planet. This novel is driven by its strongly drawn and charming characters. The science of the book is extrapolated from real-world technology — both of the book’s authors are engineers and one works in the space industry — yet the story revolves around the interactions of characters and avoids bogging down in technical detail (as sometimes happens with hard science fiction). It’s refreshing to read a compelling story that does not require a suspension of disbelief.

While the novel is aimed at younger readers — the main character Amber Jacobsen is fourteen — it should appeal to all science fiction fans. Amber is the first true Martian — the first person born on that planet. She is spirited, independent minded, and comfortable with science and technology, as any successful frontier settler must be. When Amber’s family must move from their homestead to a larger settlement, Amber has trouble convincing the locals that she’s competent to pull her weight. She decides to work on solving a mystery — the disappearance of the crew and ship of an earlier mission — and she thereby unwittingly enters the into the conflict between the independent settlers and the control-seeking bureaucrats.

Only in one segment did I feel the level of technical detail (about collating geological data) started to slow the story. And, while I loved Amber and her parents as characters, not all of the villains were drawn out as compellingly (though the portrayal of the bureaucrats is quite vivid and convincing). On the whole I loved this novel.

I should note here that I’ve known one of the authors, Thomas James, for for a couple of years, and I contribute (without compensation) to a political web page he helps to run (PeoplesPressCollective.org).