Behind the Scenes of a Mars Colony, Treachery Threatens Survival #sciencefiction #Mars #military #space #scifi #story #reading #review #bookreview

We Are Mars coverCheryl Lawson’s Mars colony was established 52 years ago in story-time, which is decades into our real-life future. Placing a colony underground and genetically-modifying the humans born there made survival possible. Now, vital systems are becoming hard to maintain, they are heavily dependent on Earth, and the g-mod program is vital to ongoing support.

As the story opens, someone is drilling deep into a Martian glacier. He’s up to no good, and colonists are too worried about their spiraling maintenance problems, and (like most real people) too involved in their own relationship games to realize.

A breathtaking discovery and a dangerous system failure combine to create a race against time and a desperate fight to stay alive. Just when it seems the colony will survive, things go wildly-wrong again.

Mistakes are made, allegiances shift and lives hang in the balance. No one can be trusted as allies become enemies and the true nature of life on Mars is revealed – One wrong move, and it will be your last.

A wonderful read with a surprising relationship twist near the end. This is a fine addition to the Mars genre of scifi. I especially liked how real Mars and the colony felt. Lawson’s descriptions are fun: for example, ejecta from a crater is “a frozen splash in a bowl of tomato soup.” I also liked getting inside the characters. Each one has a generous introduction.

I scored a pre-release copy – We Are Mars is due out May 15th. So mark your calendars or better yet, pre-order today so you don’t miss out. The book is subtitled “Part One” so it ends with the hook for the next book, a hint of what’s coming.

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Conspiracy on the Moon drives this scifi heroine #bookreview #review #sciencefiction #scifi

Artemis book cover

Not the most exciting cover I’ve ever seen

If you enjoyed Andy Weir’s The Martian (the book or the movie) you’ll find his style carries over to Artemis. The story (with maps!) is set on the Moon, in an established (if small) lunar city. The main character, Jazz, is a young woman of Arab and Islamic descent. Her background contributes to the story, but she’s not observant and this isn’t a lecture on religion. It’s a crime story, with more than one criminal, and some of them are willing to murder. What the criminals are after is satisfyingly wonkish and believable, but no spoilers here. You’ll see when you read the book.

Despite being in a completely different setting, Jazz shares some traits with The Martian’s Mark Watney. She uses technology in her schemes, never gives up, wise-cracks a lot, and swears. There are references to sex, though nothing steamy in the story itself.

But Jazz is not a sympathetic character. She’s a young smuggler ready to commit larger crimes. Weir gives her a backstory to explain her willingness, but it never made me like her much.

The story flows well. I enjoyed the lunar colony, which relies on imports from Earth in an economy based on tourism. The Apollo 11 site is a major draw and fun to see through the story’s eyes. The lunar city itself is well presented along with its inhabitants – exactly what I’d want on the Moon.

In an interesting twist on flashbacks, messages back and forth to Jazz’s Earth-bound pen pal provide background and then catch up to the story to participate in the action. Nice touch.

Details of the technology Jazz uses were fun through most of the book, but in the climax I skimmed along, wanting to see how the story turns out.

One odd thing: the story is described as a heist, but it’s not. At least, not in the usual sense of a robbery. My thesaurus claims the word heist can mean attack, so I guess it applies, but why use a secondary definition?

Here’s another thing I find odd. The title of the book is Artemis: A Novel. I didn’t need to be told it’s a novel – there are plenty of clues (read sarcasm here.) I’ve seen other books add “a novel” to their titles, so I guess it’s a fashion of some sort. Doesn’t hurt anything – I just think it’s odd.

I enjoyed the book and recommend it to anyone who likes realistic science in their science fiction, and enjoys a bit of an anti-hero. And would like to visit a small city on the Moon.

What others are saying
At 3.9 stars, with over 1900 reviews on Amazon, it’s no surprise this book is in the top ten (not 10%, but top ten books) in its Amazon categories’ sales ranks. Although, in another oddity, the day I checked one of its Amazon categories was “time travel.” Huh?

Some reviewers had trouble following the science part of the story, while others thought it was too low-tech! Like me, some felt the main character wasn’t likeable, and one said Jazz was “what young boys THINK women are like.” Bit of an ouch there. But most readers enjoyed it,” Mr. Weir’s got humor, wit, snark” and “loved the plot, characters, and one liners.” Artemis by Andy Weir.

Story on Mars Continues #Mars #book #sciencefiction #series #amwriting #scifi

Join colony on Mars - Kate Rauner

Coming soon!

The Mars colony has survived for generations, settling into a comfortable existence that depends on an Artificial Intelligence and its many robots. Life is good enough, though Zeker discovers a dark and dangerous corner of the colony. He came to the Tower guilds to pursue his dream, but that seems farther out of reach than ever. Maybe his neuroplasticity treatments failed him.

I’ve been distracted from blogging as I scramble to

Join Mars Colony - Kate Rauner

People didn’t like the helmet – how’s this?

finish my latest On Mars novel, but I’m receiving beta readers’ comments now and plan to swing into a final edit shortly. Subscribe now and I’ll let you know when Storm on Mars is available and send a coupon for a free download of the ebook edition. BTW – what do you think of the draft cover and title? Please let me know in the comments below.

In the meantime, catch up with the Mars colony. The books are available on Amazon, Apple iBooks, B&N, Kobo, and your favorite online store:

Glory on Mars – Emma joins the first twelve settlers in a struggle to Join Mars colony - Kate Raunersurvive.
Born on Mars – Jake’s born into a failing colony, but new arrivals bring hope and danger.
Hermit on Mars – Sig’s life is falling apart, but maybe he can save his mother and the breakaway prospectors she’s joined.
Water on Mars – Bliss thinks it’s the best time to be Marsborn, even if her new boss is crazy and threats from Mars and Earth surround her.

Let’s keep in touch. Subscribe today and you’ll receive an occasional short story along with book offers.

Happy New Year – Best Wishes for 2017 #happynewyear

mexican-sun-400x300Hanukah and Kwanzaa continue, but after New Year’s Eve the holiday season winds down fast. Between publishing books and celebrating, my schedule’s been erratic. I guess it’s time to settle back into a routine.

I had a nice Xmas surprise – on Xmas Day all four of my On Mars novels were in the top half of their Amazon category ranks – with Glory on Mars in the top 13% and Water on Mars in the top 16%. For a newbie author, that feels good. Thanks to everyone who read about adventures in the first near-future colony on Mars. If you haven’t read all four stories, now’s the time.

Here’s wishing you a good 2017 and thanks for your support.

There are links for preview reads of my scifi and poetry , or for purchase from your favorite online stores, including Amazon, here.

Hermit on Mars #scifi #books #Mars #colonization

Excuse me for crowing, but…

Yee ha! You can download my latest Mars colony story today.1-hermit-ebook-cover-29sep2016

I go the independent route, and there’s a lot of interactive work to get a book published. My rural internet connection isn’t up to it. I spent a day in town – thanks to the public library and Silver City’s coffee shops for their WiFi. That lets me spend hours in concentrated effort, wander around and get a snack, go back to work, and at the end of the day have the book launched.

Every book seems to present me with new errors to make, so inevitably I have to make corrections to the file and re-upload. More than once I’m sorry to say, so when it’s done I feel great. 🙂

Now I get a writing break – my husband and I are going to Carlsbad Caverns. Quite appropriate after writing a story about the Hermit’s cavern on Mars. Then on to Book 4 – which is already drafted! Watch for it with my quarterly Readers’ Club email.

Hermit on Mars is available as an ebook today at Smashwords, Amazon, and will be on Barnes & Noble, iTunes, Kobo and other major online retailers soon thereafter. The paperback is available on Create Space today and should turn up on Amazon next week.

The colony on Mars is thriving but Sig’s life is falling apart, both in the robotics lab and with his partner. An urgent call from his mother – who lives in the Hermit’s cavern, beyond the safety of the colony – seems like a fine chance to escape for a while. Sig yearns to recapture the freedom of his youth, but with freedom comes danger.

I think (hope?) I’m getting better with each book, but find out for yourself. Download a free digital copy from Smashwords using coupon code NB87T before December 31st, or get any of my ebooks for FREE in exchange for an honest review.

Each story in the On Mars series stands alone, so you can easily start with Book 3. But take a look atGlory w caption Book 1 – Glory on Mars. Here’s some of what real readers are saying on Amazon about Glory:

  • Science is most definitely there in all its glorious, taken for granted style. It is so flawlessly interwoven with the narrative… leaving the author free to tell a tale about life, love, strife and sacrifice.
  • What makes this story so enjoyable is its solid grounding in reality.
  • I love that I was able to sit down and read an engaging story… the true dangers of extraterrestrial exploration but of the fragility of human life.
  • Emma and her colleagues find that life on Mars requires all of their intelligence, ingenuity, and courage if they are to survive.
  • A page turning, problem-solving story.
  • Characters were rich and dynamic. It was interesting reading about their environment and adaptations. I hope there is a sequel, I will definitely check it out.
  • If you loved the movie “The Martian” then this story is a great follow-up.
  • Outstanding science fiction novel, I give this book a strong five stars.

Thanks to all my followers and visitors – I appreciate you stopping by to share my little efforts.

Mars Odyssey 15th Birthday #NASA #science #space #Mars

Not what Odyssey found on Mars - those must be tattoos on the princess - no way they'd stay in place as she moves

Not what Odyssey found on Mars – those must be tattoos on the princess – no way they’d stay in place as she moves

Odyssey launched on April 7 fifteen years ago. It was NASA’s 2001 space odyssey, named for the classic scifi novel, and became the longest-lived Mars spacecraft in history. It still has fuel for several more years.

There was a lot we wanted Odyssey to accomplish: study geology and radiation, and hunt for water. Water is important to humanity’s future on Mars, and understanding the planet’s radiation environment is vital to keeping explorers and (maybe?) colonists alive. Geology may determine where the first human explorers touch down. Odyssey became a relay station for surface craft that followed it, so it’s part of many missions.

We know so much more about Mars than before Odyssey, even if there are

Scifi colonists may not survive on the real planet Mars

Scifi colonists may not survive on the real planet Mars

still plenty of mysteries. Mars has become a real place rather than a backdrop for fantasy and serious efforts are underway to send people to Mars – to explore, to learn, and perhaps to colonize. But not to rescue scantily clad princesses. Today we need black holes or warp drive to reach such space creatures.

Happy Birthday Odyssey.

Thanks to space.com

Glory on #Mars excerpt Chapter One: Incident #amwriting #scifi #amreading #books

The seaside resort of Noordwijk was a strange place to train for a mission to the barren deserts of Mars, but Colony Mars had its tidy headquarters north of the Dutch city, inland from the deep dunes of the beach. Sightseers hurried through the visitors’ center to join guided tours of a Martian colony mockup and settler-candidates stopped between austere buildings to admire the summer flowers that replaced spring tulips.

Noordwijk-DunesEmma was about to start her last English-language tour when her link beeped an incoming message – the tone for “urgent”. One family was still coming up the ramp, two young boys ricocheting among signs diagramming the mockup of the colony. Emma turned discreetly to one side and tapped her headset.

“There’s a mission problem.” Emma didn’t check her contact lens for metadata – that was the mission lead’s voice in her ear. “Come to the control room as soon as duties allow.”

A chill ran through Emma. Maybe her launch date had slipped. Maybe they’d miss the window entirely and she’d remain on Earth, temporarily reprieved. Why was that the first thought that came to her? Must be pre-launch jitters.

Emma was about to fly on Settler Mission Three and her journey depended on a narrow launch window. Balancing the planets’ orbital dance with fuel requirements, Colony Mars could launch a mission every twenty-six months. If they missed it, there’d be a twenty-six month delay. But Emma excelled at focusing on the task at hand, so she turned her attention back to her tour group.

“If we’re all ready? My name is Emma Winters and I’m a Martian settler. In twelve days, Colony Mars will launch me and three crewmates into orbit to board our transport ship. I’ll be your guide today through this replica of the Kamp Kans colony habitat or nederzetting, as our Dutch founders call it.”

“Wow,” one of the bouncy boys said. He was clearly a fan, dressed in a rugby shirt from the gift shop, striped in rusty red and sky blue just like Emma’s uniform. “Are you really going to Mars and never coming back?”

“Yup. This is my last day in Holland.”

She watched everyone’s eyes widen at that. Public outreach, like this tour, was part of every settler’s training, right up to their final day at headquarters. Personal contact kept public interest and donations high.

The urgent message tugged at her thoughts and she pushed it away again.

“Why don’t one of you young men open the door and we’ll begin.” She gestured towards the white metal hatchway. The younger boy hopped forward, stopping just before he ran into the door.

“Hey!”

“You have to open it manually, dummy,” his brother said. He looked back at Emma proudly. “All the nederzetting’s doors are manual.”

“That’s right,” Emma said with a practiced smile. The tour always started with the surprise of a manual door.

“Colony Mars uses the latest technology for some things, like construction, communications, and power generation. But technology requires lots of support – spare parts and maintenance. There are only eight people on Mars now; twelve when my mission gets there. Human beings are flexible – our hands can replace dozens of servomechanisms.”

The boy scowled at her skeptically.

Emma held up a pencil she carried especially for this bit.

“Even simple tools are complex to manufacture. The wood for this pencil is logged in Oregon, in America. The graphite in the center is mined in Sri Lanka. Zinc and copper from Africa for the cap, and the eraser combines Italian pumice with Canadian rapeseed oil.” She waggled the pencil at the crowd.

“I haven’t mentioned the machines needed to produce it, or the thousands of workers and piles of parts at every step. On Mars, we use low tech wherever we can.” Emma spun the wheel-shaped handle, and stepped to one side as she heaved the door open.

“Even ‘no tech’. These hinges will still be working a hundred years from now.”

She pushed the urgent message firmly out of her mind as the group stepped and stumbled over the door frame.

***

The quickest route to Mission Control was through the visitors’ center. From the lobby, tourists turned right to enter the museum and gift shop under a banner in four languages.

Mars is ons geschenk aan de toekomst
Marso
estas nia donaco al la estonteco
Mars est notre cadeau pour l’avenir
Mars is our gift to the future

Instead, Emma stepped behind the lobby’s welcome desk. Rather than the Very_large_array_cloudsusual cheery greeting, the attendant nodded grimly. Alarmed, Emma laid her hand on the scanner, a door concealed in the wall clicked open, and she hopped on the walkalator to the Mars-Earth Exchange building.

She could see the MEX antenna farm from the glass corridor. Today a group from the nearby European Space Agency’s Technology Center stood at the base of the main dish – their visit had been the day’s news at breakfast – but she was too distracted to wonder if they’d award another grant to Colony Mars.

She entered at the back of a stadium-style control room, behind two dozen stations, each arranged like an individual cockpit, and scanned the room for Filip Krast, the stocky MEX mission control lead. The front row, on the lowest level, was fully occupied as always by controllers running the satellite systems that orbited Mars – communications, tracking, weather, and solar power. On the second level technicians were installing upgrades for Emma’s Settler Three mission.

Filip hurried across the top level, past the special projects stations, and ushered Emma to a glass-walled cubicle against the back wall.

“There’s been a… an incident at Kamp. This isn’t easy to watch.” He steered her to a video console in the corner and hit playback. “There’s been a death.”

Emma sat up straight and felt her fingers go cold.

On the vid, the colony’s doctor, Ingra, was stepping through a door in the habitat module. The lights were dimmed and the audio feed was silent except for the hum of life support systems – it was pre-dawn at the settlement. She crossed to the airlock, slowly rotated the door handle, and hopped through.

Filip tapped the console, switching to the playback from inside the airlock. Ingra sealed the door and looked up at the imager.

“By the time this transmission reaches Earth, I’ll be gone. I can’t stay here any longer. There’s a huge old oak tree beyond that little crater. No one can see it, but I know it’s there. I’m going home. Forgive me.” She walked past the surface survival suits hanging on the wall and reached for the airlock control panel.

Emma felt a knot tighten in her stomach.

“She can’t get out without a suit, can she? The airlock pumps are slow; she’ll pass out before the pressure is low enough for her to open the outer door, right?”

view out airlock (500x375)Filip pointed back to the screen.

Ingra stepped to the outer door. With a pull and twist, she opened the emergency decompression valve. Red lights began to flash and ice fog clouded the imager lens. Ingra fumbled with the outer door and it opened. With her last lungful of air, she pulled the door open and disappeared into the darkness.

Glory on Mars is available here or see more options.

GLORY Ebook 300 dpi