Is a One-Way Trip to #Mars Crazy? :( Is it #SciFi? :)

Mars_habitat NASA

NASA concept Photo ID: S93-45586

Mars-One is a Dutch not-for-profit planning to establish a permanent colony on Mars. They’ve selected candidates to train for the one-way trip in five or ten years. Is that insane?

  • Problems to overcome
    They say their settlers will land a ship using retro rockets in a configuration never tried before, and no one’s ever landed such big payloads.
  • Science won’t be their focus, colonization will – but how do you learn to live off the Martian land without a lot of specialized science?
  • Going to Mars, even one-way, will cost a lot – really, really a lot. Mars-One will raise the billions needed using the Olympics as a model – ad revenue, broadcast rights, and donations.
  • MIT students studied colony plans and found even simple things like CO2 versus O2 balance for the plants and humans don’t compute. That Mars-One hasn’t planned enough time or money to develop their missions. And they doubt a colony could become self-sustaining anytime soon.

In my scifi book, Glory on Mars, the first colony is further in the future than GLORY Ebook 300 dpiMars-One, and I give my settlers some neat technologies – robots to build the settlement, an Artificial Intelligence, and satellite systems complete with an orbiting energy station to beam power to the surface. That’s still not enough to prevent disasters.

View the physicsfocus article and Mars-One web site. More about the MIT study here including a video of their debate with Mars-One founders. More about my books here.

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Science Ficiton Mars Rover Inspired by Classic ‘Lost in Space’ Chariot #Mars #Tech #scifi #rover #sciencefiction

The_Chariot Lost in SpaceI give my Martian settlers a pair of pressurized rovers in Glory on Mars, classic pieces of science fiction equipment for exploring planets. As the movie The Martian shows, NASA is planning pressurized vehicles for their human exploration of Mars, too. It’s an obvious need on a frozen, nearly airless world.

The Chariot
I had a classic scifi rover in mind as I wrote: The Chariot from Lost in Space, which was based on a Snowcat. A boxy shape seems perfect. Martian air isn’t dense enough for a vehicle to need streamlining, and a cuboid shape offers the most interior space on a pair of treaded tracks. My rover can be driven by the colony’s Artificial Intelligence and be tracked by a satellite system – advantages the Robinson’s of Lost in Space never had.

The Chariot has more windows than I gave my settlers, and I had to fit in an airlock and life support systems. But I still like the look of the old classic.

Join the first colonists https://books2read.com/u/bQZp1e

I’ve jazzed up the cover – click on it to see the latest version

See more about my books here. In Glory on Mars, settlers take a one-way journey to Mars, and that may be a mistake. It’s vital for them to explore in their robotic rovers – they need to find minerals if the colony is to succeed. But that’s not as easy as it sounds, even surrounded by the immense dead volcanoes of the Tharsis Plain. From Amazon and other favoite stores.

Wikipedia has more on the Lost in Space TV series. And there’s a Lost in Space wiki here.

Glory on #Mars #scifi New Release #books

GLORY Ebook 300 dpiMy latest book is available today here. Over the coming week it should turn up on Amazon and other on-line retailers. Hurray – now I can take a rest.

A one-way journey to Mars may be a mistake.
Colonization of Mars is in trouble when the colony psychologist, one of the first eight settlers, commits suicide. Four more settlers are now on their way, bringing renewed hope – and a cat. Emma volunteered so she could explore Mars in her robotic walkabout suit. Even if she gets the chance, that may not make up for everything she left behind. Mars is a hostile planet, danger from Earth follows them, and an inexplicable sense of desolation cripples their efforts. Read this first book in the On Mars series to discover if humans survive on Mars.

Download a FREE copy in any of the major formats from  Smashwords. Use Coupon Code XY35L here.

If you’d like to say thanks, consider posting an honest review on your favorite retail site – I’m on all the major sites, so just search on my name or the book title – or wherever you hang out to talk about books. Reviews help people find my books, so I appreciate your time. Thanks.

Update: here’s the Amazon link for Kindle or paperback: http://tinyurl.com/jujsdkk Check any of your favorite on-line retailers.

Movie #TheMartian opens today based on a #FridayRead novel by author with his own Cinderella story

the MartianThe Martian tells the story of NASA astronaut Mark Watney, mistakenly left behind for dead when his crewmates evacuate the planet during a mission-aborting storm. We begin with Watney’s point of view: “I’m pretty much fucked.” While Weir also gives us chapters from the viewpoint of NASA on Earth and the crew who left him behind, I suspect Watney is Weir’s favorite character.

Story of the story
The story of how the book went from pen (or keyboard) to movie screen is Andy Weir’s real-life fairy tale.

  • He began writing the book in 2009, researching thoroughly so it would be as realistic as possible. Weir decided to blog the book online one chapter at a time for free. In 2011 fans of the website convinced him to self-publish the book on Amazon – originally as a Kindle book at the lowest price Amazon allowed: 99¢.
  • It soared to the top of Amazon’s list of best-selling science-fiction titles.
  • Podium Publishing signed for the audiobook rights in 2013.
  • Crown Publishing purchased the print rights and re-released it in 2014.
  • The book debuted on the New York Times Best Seller list on March 2, 2014.
  • Now it’s a major motion picture.

Rejections
I can imagine why traditional literary agents rejected Weir’s books if they’re all like this (The Martian wasn’t his first try.) Weir’s mission to Mars feels deeply “NASA” with chipper, brilliant, and brave astronauts. As the book promos say, The Martian is a tale of survival of the geekiest. You could have an Excel spreadsheet open as you read, to check Weir’s math. All this sounds too tech-heavy for any traditional publisher to try.

The Martian defies “tradition”
The possibly-doomed astronaut tells most of his story through log entries – “telling” rather than “showing” (a bugaboo in writing advice.) For every clever survival ploy and disastrous setback, you know he survived because he’s logging the sol’s adventures after the fact. There’s all the detail from Weir’s research – technical “backstory” the astronaut shares in his log – more anti-writing advice. There’s no villain, though Mars is quite an antagonist. Most importantly, there’s a lack of soap opera – Weir offers no dark secrets or betrayed loves – very little about the astronaut, his friends, or family at all.

Fun read
I’m an engineer and appreciate the sense of reality Weir creates in his story, and the brave plucky astronaut, but even I started skimming the math late in the book. That was because I wanted to find out what happened next – not because I wanted the book to end. Read the free preview and if your reaction is “I want three hundred pages of this,” read the book. You’ll be happy.

Real Settlers Can Learn From The Martian
Mars-One, real-life non-profit dedicated to placing a colony on Mars, takes lessons from the book:

“If you want to be the first, you have to like being alone. Stated in a more practical way, when you’re a settler in the first settlement on Mars, you have no neighbors when you need to borrow some folding chairs for your next party.”

But Mars-One wants to plant a permanent colony while The Martian mission does not. As they say, “The novel described some useful future-tech inventions, like nano-woven habitat cloth, nuclear spaceships, and durable life support equipment. But… where are all the robots? And 3D printers? And other tech for basic infrastructure?”

What others say
Amazon Kindle edition is up to $5.99 now, with over 13,000 reviews averaging 4.5 stars. Phenomenal. For a little balance, I looked at the few 3-star ratings. These readers disliked exactly what everyone else loved: “This is a nerd’s book. It is driven almost entirely by the mastery of technical details.” [M. Milligan] The optimistic, wisecracking castaway sounded juvenile to some. It did remind me of the type of dialog from science fiction’s pulpier era, with the modern acceptance of an occasional “fuck.” Can you imagine Neil Armstrong texting to JPL “Look! A pair of boobs! -> (.Y.)? I’m curious to hear how the movie presents Watney’s monologs and dialogs.

The story behind The Martian is at Wikipedia. SPOILER ALERT – Wikipedia includes a plot summary.