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The Fifth Man (Oxygen Series, Book 2) Paperback – September, 2002


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Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

Olson and Ingermanson's Fifth Man is a sequel to their brilliant Oxygen . The same crew, more or less marooned on Mars, returns, but not much happens by way of Mars exploration except for the discovery of ice. The crew's frantic journey to capture enough ice to manufacture escape fuel makes for some fine scenes, but the authors pump up suspense with the gimmick of a "fifth man" who might be a stowaway, an alien, or a figment. A convoluted sabotage plot back at NASA grows rather tiresome, too. Even so, this is a skilled writing team, and they've done their research. The sequel doesn't equal the original, but it's good stuff. John Mort
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Review

"...even more entertaining than the original! ...grabs you and won't let you go until you reach the last page." -- The SF Site
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Bethany House Publishers (September 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0764227327
  • ISBN-13: 978-0764227325
  • Product Dimensions: 8.4 x 5.4 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (41 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,439,067 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

4.3 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By "tumanator" on December 3, 2003
Format: Paperback
The sequel to Oxygen is one of the most gripping, exciting, and best written sequels I've ever read. If you're looking for an excellent read - buy Oxygen and Fifth Man at the same time. You won't want to wait to start the first page of Fifth Man after you finish the last page of Oxygen!
Become the Sixth Man/Woman! Get them both now!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Denyse O'Leary on March 12, 2003
Format: Paperback
What I liked best about The Fifth Man is that it isn't "from Mars." In fact, I slowly began to recognize Mars, not from anything learned at the NASA Web site (although that is a good place to begin), but from my own life as a child in a cold (sometimes horribly cold) climate, where everything is reduced to surviving the cold. Only life forms equipped to survive a level of cold that is essentially anti-life will make it.
Predictably, the four astronauts of the previous book, Oxygen, begin to experience the strain of such a life, now that they have ended up on Mars. They begin to imagine -- or are they imagining? -- that there is a "fifth man" around who is doing terrible things. Could the fifth man be an extraterrestrial? Extraterrestrials might not want Earthlings bashing around Mars. Or are the astronauts slowly going mental under the strain?

Think of this: If someone is on Mars, and you suspect that they have gone bush crazy, you cannot just pick them up and fly them out, the way you can fly them out of the Arctic or Antarctic. Can one person's craziness infect all the others? Or is that the answer to all the strange events? Something to think about as you read ...
I won't spoil the fun by revealing the ending, but I will say that this story should appeal to sci-fi and mystery buffs alike -- as well as to fans of novels of the North.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Denyse O'Leary on March 12, 2003
Format: Paperback
What I liked best about The Fifth Man is that it isn't "from Mars." In fact, I slowly began to recognize Mars, not from anything learned at the NASA Web site (although that is a good place to begin), but from my own life as a child in a cold (sometimes horribly cold) climate, where everything is reduced to surviving the cold. Only life forms equipped to survive a level of cold that is essentially anti-life will make it.
Predictably, the four astronauts of the previous book, Oxygen, begin to experience the strain of such a life, now that they have ended up on Mars. They begin to imagine -- or are they imagining? -- that there is a "fifth man" around who is doing terrible things. Could the fifth man be an extraterrestrial? Extraterrestrials might not want Earthlings bashing around Mars. Or are the astronauts slowly going mental under the strain?

Think of this: If someone is on Mars, and you suspect that they have gone bush crazy, you cannot just pick them up and fly them out, the way you can fly them out of the Arctic or Antarctic. Can one person's craziness infect all the others? Or is that the answer to all the strange events? Something to think about as you read ...
I won't spoil the fun by revealing the ending, but I will say that this story should appeal to sci-fi and mystery buffs alike -- as well as to fans of novels of the North.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Kyle Pratt on August 19, 2007
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The Fifth Man takes up the story where the first novel, Oxygen, left us--on the surface of Mars. Both novels would be considered hard science fiction in that everything in the stories is within the realm of science and technology.

This novel, published in 2002, is a sequel to Oxygen. Both are well-researched and crafted, near future, Christian science fiction novel. Oxygen begins in the year 2014 just before the first mission to Mars. Microbial ecologist Valkerie Jansen is assigned to the Ares 10 as late replacement. This alone would cause strain for the crew but her faith and the mutual attraction between her and another member of the crew adds multiple new layers of tension. That novel takes us to the Red Planet. The Fifth Man then shows us there struggles to survive in the harsh and cold environment.

Booklist called the plot convoluted and to some extent I would agree. Believability is strained when you have sabotage, NASA plots, paranoia and one life threatening crisis after another, but that is what the science fiction and action genres usually provide. All too often Christian fiction is second-rate fiction but this is not the case with John Olson and Randall Ingermanson. This is excellent superior science fiction. The authors made me believe the science, terminology and NASA jargon that were spread throughout both novels. These realistic fine points make the story much more compelling. As I said earlier, both novels are hard science fiction. The events are possible with what is known about the science and technology.

The best fiction writers present their stories through setting, action, thoughts, and description. Many Science Fiction stories suffer from lengthy paragraphs of telling.
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6 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on February 13, 2003
Format: Paperback
I received the Olson / Ingermanson duo's first book, Oxygen, in Christmas of 2001. Regardless of the new Lord of the Rings trilogy I was also given (in a collector's edition platinum-issue cardboard box, plus The Hobbit!), I was inexorably drawn to Oxygen. I finished it quickly, loved the characters, and loved the story.
So of course I was blessed to learn that chem/phys whizzes and word wranglers John B. Olson and Randall Ingermanson were already at work cranking out the sequel, The Fifth Man, subtitle: Will they find life on the Red Planet . . . before it finds them?.
The Fifth Man could work as a standalone novel; there's no Batman-TV-show-like "We have already seen . . ." prologue near the beginning. Right away, we're on Mars, with the crew of the Ares 10, year 2014, but with today's technology in full action in an actual Mars mission.
At first things might seem a little disappointing for Oxygen readers. We know that at the end of the first novel, all the psychological warfare and personal conflicts between the members of the Ares 10 crew was resolved. After all the chaos getting to the Red Planet, everyone had finally learned to cooperate, to trust each other . . . they had a bond.
Not so in The Fifth Man. Things are getting a little tight again, and crew members Valkerie Jansen, Bob Kaganovski, Kennedy Hampton and Alexis Ohta are back to fighting. Perhaps they have a good reason. An apparent spacecraft saboteur, a bomb, seeming infections by meteorite bacteria and of course the oxygen shortages were bad enough on the way to Mars. Now it seems that something else inhabits the planet . . . a being, a presence. It's scratching the sides of their buildings, stalking them, it's just out there . . . somewhere.
That alone causes enough misgivings for the crew.
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