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

Thomas L. James , Carl C. Carlsson
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (22 customer reviews)

Kindle Price: $2.99

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Book Description

"In the Shadow of Ares" is a 2012 Prometheus Award finalist.

The third exploration mission to Mars vanishes in 2029 without a trace. Two decades later, the success of human settlement of Mars and the life of a young girl hinge on the secret of what happened to the Ares III mission...

In 2051, Mars is a growing outpost of humanity, and 14-year-old settler Amber Jacobsen is a minor interplanetary celebrity – 'the First Kid on Mars'. But pioneering is hardly glamorous work,and Amber wishes she were just an ordinary girl living on Earth.

When the Jacobsen homestead is destroyed in an apparent accident, they relocate to an independent settlement in Noctis Labyrinthus, a vast and largely unexplored canyonland. Their new home promises new opportunities, and Amber looks forward to being just an ordinary member of the community. Instead, the other settlers dismiss her as a burdensome child and refuse to accept her as the responsible young adult she has become.

To prove the value of her skills and unique perspective, Amber vows to uncover the fate of the Ares III mission, whose loss has largely been forgotten during the Martian settlement boom. This seemingly harmless challenge thrusts her into a deadly conflict: those who know the truth will kill to keep it hidden, while others would use the secret to secure their dominance over all of Mars.

In solving the mystery, Amber could destroy everything the Martian settlers have worked to create.

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Product Details

  • File Size: 590 KB
  • Print Length: 405 pages
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B004FV4YUM
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Lending: Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #696,841 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
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
5.0 out of 5 stars Hard SciFi with Charm 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 ( -- Ari Armstrong
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
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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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Great story
This book is great for anyone that likes to read Sci Fi based in science. Yes the main character is a 14 year old girl but don't let that put you off from enjoying an amazing story... Read more
Published 2 months ago by Tad Smith
4.0 out of 5 stars Solid sci-fi that manages to keep its feet on the ground.
Considering that this book is aimed at a younger audience than myself (Late teens/early twenties) I was very impressed with the writing style as not once did I feel I was being... Read more
Published 5 months ago by Mr. A. D. MacArthur
5.0 out of 5 stars Refreshingly real Science fiction,
“In the Shadow of Ares” is excellent book with an intriguing, complex plot. There were great “robots”, talking “computers”, jetpacks, and other tech items to make the book... Read more
Published 12 months ago by Kailei Higginson
5.0 out of 5 stars Intriguing Plot at a Great Price
“In the Shadow of Ares” is excellent book with an intriguing, complex plot. There were great “robots”, talking “computers”, jetpacks, and other tech items to make the book... Read more
Published 12 months ago by WWII Wargamer
4.0 out of 5 stars First Kid on Mars saves freedom there, for now
I was really looking forward to reading this book, said to be Libertarian sci-fi, in the tradition of Heinlein's excellentThe Moon Is a Harsh Mistress. Read more
Published 18 months ago by Man in the Middle
5.0 out of 5 stars Refreshingly real Science fiction
Only rarely do the authors ask you to suspend disbelief as they take you through the many twists in the story of the First Girl on Mars.
And be careful! Read more
Published 18 months ago by 1gewehr
4.0 out of 5 stars Solid sci-fi; great story; so-so charactors
I really enjoyed the descriptive effort that was put into making the science in the book believable. Read more
Published on May 22, 2012 by AvidReader
5.0 out of 5 stars Amazing Read!
As a long-time science fiction fan, I went into this book with the hope to find something to engage me. And it did. Read more
Published on March 27, 2012 by Denver Blue
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent read
This is a great YA novel in the best tradition of Heinlein. Excellent story and great characters. Nice hard scifi but very character driven. Read more
Published on January 14, 2012 by Paulke
5.0 out of 5 stars Kudos
This well-written story is in the Heinleinian tradition, and is reminiscent of a thoroughly updated The Moon is a Harsh Mistress in concept and The Menace from Earth in... Read more
Published on December 28, 2011 by davisbr
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