My rating: 5 of 5 stars
This book is Science Fiction, probably best described as Hard Science Fiction, and contains a small section on Speculative Medicine
The Story: The main story centers around Emma, a scientist and robotics expert who is part of a staged colonization of Mars. Much of the book is a description of the problems involved in setting up a self-sufficient colony in terms of heat, power, shelter, transportation and food, as well as planning for population expansion. It is the hope that the colony will provide a stepping stone to the rest of the solar system, and space in general.
Several sub-plots involve dangers faced by the colonists because of human criminal interference and natural disaster, as well as some minor relationship conflicts.
Technical: The book is well constructed with very few technical problems, largely occasional typographical errors which were quite rare. There was nothing here to distract the reader. On rare occasion, attribution of dialog was ambiguous. Nevertheless, the dialog was realistic, often a difficult accomplishment for any author.
There were some interesting internal links to media, poetry, explanations of material in the book that was not necessary to the flow of the book and so left ‘optional.’
Style. This is Hard Science Fiction, not Fantasy, and the author has taken pains to discuss various problems facing the colonists with reference to real science, planetology, atmospheric conditions. Nowhere did I find any magic or fantasy, but every unusual and interesting feature, and many are described, appears to be based in science.
Ms. Rauner is a retired engineer with experience in America’s nuclear complex. She demonstrates authority in the science context of her writing.
The description of problems in colony development is fascinating, although may cater to a certain segment of audience with a background and interest. It does not require extensive education in science, but it certainly requires interest.
If the book falls down at all, it will be in the eyes of the beholder, that character and relationship development takes a back seat to the world ‘building,’ really world ‘description,’ because Ms. Rauner tries very hard to remain true to reality.
And I missed the opportunity to name the cat ‘Glory’, but to my knowledge, the cat was never named.
This, of course, is my interest, and one of the reasons for reviewing this book. There are references to the realistic risk of radiation damage because of lack of geomagnetic fields and atmosphere on Mars, particularly during solar flares.
“Cancer wasn’t much of a problem on Earth anymore,” is a quote from one of her appendices and Emma relies on this knowledge, although never has to apply it during the story. Nanoparticles which grip each malignant cell individually (targeted therapy?), that help to discover single cells in the human body and irradiate them using radio frequency ablation (Kanzius effect) is not so far-fetched as you might think, given that current science is investigating detection of circulating cancer cells and single cell imaging, and bulk (although not single cell) radio frequency ablation is a well-established currently.
Of course, we already have targeted therapy such as cell-lethal medications linked biochemically to monoclonal antibodies (magic bullets) which attack individual cells, so this too is not so far-fetched.
I enjoyed this book very much. I was reminded often of Kim Stanley Robinson and his Mars series, which I mean as a compliment in the best possible way.
I would give this book 4.6
If you wish to read, and then review this book, the author has provided a free copy at Smashwords (joining is necessary, but also free): Use Coupon Code XY35L here. But don’t use this unless you really will give an honest review.