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In the Shadow of Ares (Amber's Mars Book 1) Kindle Edition

24 customer reviews

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Length: 405 pages Word Wise: Enabled Series: Amber's Mars (Book 1)

Product Details

  • File Size: 590 KB
  • Print Length: 405 pages
  • Publication Date: December 5, 2010
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B004FV4YUM
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Lending: Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #703,423 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By W Dickinson on January 28, 2011
Format: Kindle Edition
In the Shadow of Ares was a fun read. It's solid SciFi with a twist of mystery. The vivid technical details in the novel are no surprise since the authors are engineers who work in the space industry. That being said, not once did I feel they were droning on about boring technical details; they struck a nice balance between the engineering challenges of life on Mars and the emotional hardships of living on the Red Planet. While adults will enjoy the book, there are also good lessons for young adults. Specifically, young adults will benefit from the graphic contrast between free market economies that excel and centrally-planned socialistic economies that are destined for failure.

The characters were drawn quite well and while the main character, Amber, is a 14 year-old girl, I found it easy to sympathize with her frustration as the only kid on Mars trying to prove her worth to adults who dismiss her as a child. The Mars Development Authority (MDA) was written so well that you can't help but hate the useless, arrogant bureaucrats as they meddle in the lives of the producing colonists who are trying to make Mars a self-sustainable planet. (It was a nice touch that one of head bureaucrats had a hand in buggering up the EU back on Earth before being shipped to Mars.) And speaking of the MDA, I also found the contrast between the references of the earlier free market lunar colonization and the current attempts at centrally planning colonization on Mars to be entertaining.

While the ending wrapped up the main mystery of the story, there were some loose ends just teasing of a sequel. I'd like to see the authors continue the story in a second book, so we can watch Amber continue to grow up and to see how the colonies overcome some of the challenges of creating a self-sufficient Mars despite the overreaching MDA bureaucracy.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Ari Armstrong on December 21, 2010
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I have been fascinated with Mars as the next frontier since reading Robert Zubrin. "In the Shadow of Ares" lets us imagine actually living on the red planet. This novel is driven by its strongly drawn and charming characters. The science of the book is extrapolated from real-world technology -- both of the book's authors are engineers and one works in the space industry -- yet the story revolves around the interactions of characters and avoids bogging down in technical detail (as sometimes happens with hard science fiction). It's refreshing to read a compelling story that does not require a suspension of disbelief.

While the novel is aimed at younger readers -- the main character Amber Jacobsen is fourteen -- it should appeal to all science fiction fans. Amber is the first true Martian -- the first person born on that planet. She is spirited, independent minded, and comfortable with science and technology, as any successful frontier settler must be. When Amber's family must move from their homestead to a larger settlement, Amber has trouble convincing the locals that she's competent to pull her weight. She decides to work on solving a mystery -- the disappearance of the crew and ship of an earlier mission -- and she thereby unwittingly enters the into the conflict between the independent settlers and the control-seeking bureaucrats.

Only in one segment did I feel the level of technical detail (about collating geological data) started to slow the story. And, while I loved Amber and her parents as characters, not all of the villains were drawn out as compellingly (though the portrayal of the bureaucrats is quite vivid and convincing). On the whole I loved this novel.

I should note here that I've known one of the authors, Thomas James, for for a couple of years, and I contribute (without compensation) to a political web page he helps to run (PeoplesPressCollective.org). -- Ari Armstrong
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By H. Carter on June 16, 2011
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
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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