What's the Name of That Book??? discussion

As It Is On Mars
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SOLVED: Adult Fiction > SOLVED. Adult SF : Mission to Mars goes wrong, astronauts have to survive on their own [s]

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message 1: by Amber (last edited Nov 29, 2013 06:37PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Amber | 6 comments I checked this SF book out from the library within the last 5 years or so, and I think it was probably published after 1990. Can't remember title, author, or any of the character's names, but I'm fairly certain the author was not any of the big names in SF.

I'm pretty sure the title has the word "Mars" in it, and you would think that would be easy to search on GoodReads, Amazon, or Google Books, but there are just too many Mars results. I've sifted through many pages with no luck.

One odd tidbit: The hardback copy I checked out from the library was solid red, with a framed picture on the front, and big yellow title, I think. It had a lengthy blurb, not on the inside flap, but on the back cover, and it read somewhat strangely, like it was written by someone who was a little too hyped about about getting people excited about this book. It struck me as very strange, with lots of superlative adjectives about how great the book is. (It was a really good book, which is why I'm still thinking about it all these years later.) And I think there may have been a sequel, though not a third.

Plot summary: ***CONTAINS PLOT SPOILERS***
An international mission to Mars goes wrong and they crash-land with most of their supplies destroyed. They have no way to signal Earth and mission control thinks they're dead. Main character is a red-haired woman (American I think), and one other astronaut, a British man I think. Pretty sure they are the only survivors of the crash. There is a secondary ship coming behind them with supplies, but when Mission Control thinks everyone is dead, they abort the supply mission, leaving the strandees with no hope of survival. There is a really poignant scene about this point where they are so sure they're going to die, they have literally dug their own graves and they're going to lie down in them and wait to run out of oxygen. While they are waiting to die, they have a long talk about philosophy and religion. Just before they die, an amazing thing happens: (view spoiler)

After a narrow escape they set about using the supplies to make a plan, and then we learn there is also a Japanese mission somewhere on the planet, so they set out to find them and get help. After a harrowing trek across many miles of Martian landscape, they reach the Japanese mission- enter the third main character, a Japanese astronaut who is also a Zen master. There is another memorable scene where Zen Master is trying to drive one of the mission's giant Martian rovers through a deadly Martian windstorm to try to reach the other two, and he uses his Zen meditation and focus techniques to study the pattern of the wind gusts and drive through safely without getting blown over.

Eventually, Earth finds out they have survived and they become instant celebrities. There is a scene where they are giving live interviews to Earth, and Redhead is wearing a green dress made from the supply lander's parachute silk and a bunch of copper jewelry. Sitting in her giant glass greenhouse, she somehow manages to make the Martian lifestyle look glamorous, and they start recruiting settlers to come to Mars.

I don't remember a lot of the plot beyond that, but I remember details here and there, like Redhead is adamant that any permanent home they build will NOT be in a cave, and so they come up with a plan to make a glassed-in enclosure to live in. And Zen Master is just as determined that part of their permanent enclave will include a Buddhist temple. There are lots of interesting tie-ins, like Zen Buddhism, and the science of how to make concrete that will set in the Martian atmosphere.

PS: I can say with certainty it is NOT the Red Mars trilogy by KS Robinson. Nor is it a Robert Heinlein.


message 2: by Daphne (new)

Daphne | 245 comments I usually don't expect self-published books to be the right answer, but As It is on Mars by Thomas William Cronin has a plethora of info on the Google Books "about" page, and the plot sounds like this.


Amber | 6 comments OMG OMG that's it! Great sleuthing! I can see I got the colors backwards on the jacket description. Yeah, the blurb had all the earmarks of being self-published, but I assumed something that made into my library was not in fact self-published.

Thank you SO MUCH!!!!!!


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