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Thursday, June 16, 2011

Recently read: "In the Shadow of Ares" by Thomas James & Carl Carlsson

In the Shadow of Ares (Amber's Mars)

This is a self published Kindle book (one of the authors, James, is a Lockheed Martin engineer).  After a prolog in 2029, showing the disappearance of the Ares III mission, the book is set on 2051, as colonization of Mars has started.  Amber Jacobsen is 14, and a minor celebrity as "the first kid on Mars".  She would just like to be able to live on Earth and be a normal teenager.

After her family's homestead is destroyed by an accident, her mother finds a job at the independent settlement near Noctis Labyrinthus.  Anxious to show her worth, Amber tries to be of use, but most of the colonists see her as a distraction, even a burden.  As a way to prove her use to the colony (and Mars) she vows to find out what happened to the Ares III mission. 

There's a lot of politics here, as the colonists are continually at odds with the Mars Development Authority (MDA) (the book is written with a heavy dose of free market economics) and Amber's investigations give the MDA a reason to try and take over the colony. 

There's a mystery, with hints of some sort of conspiracy, and danger to Amber (in an almost "Nancy Drew" sort of way) which I found reasonably enjoyable.  I did feel that some of the villains weren't well drawn (that is, their motives seem to come out of left field) and the MDA is almost a strawman opponent for the authors economic arguments (and that with me agreeing with the core of their libertarianism).  The science is pretty good overall, and they've given some thought to how the settlements would be set up. 

Overall, a retty good read, though I did have some problems with the formatting on my Kindle.

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