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Follow the Author
Red Desert - Point of No Return Kindle Edition
"An engaging, credible, suspenseful narrative." - Tom's Hardware Italy
"Any of the events in this novella could be happening in space right now, and that's whatmakes this story so interesting." - Readers' Favorite
"A well-written tale, which goes far beyond the commonplace storylines one usual finds in SF books about Mars." - The Kindle Book Review
From the Author
What do you have to know before exploring Mars?
Here is a short list of terms you will encounter while reading the book, whose meaning could be a bit obscure to you.
Of course if you are a scientist, a space exploration enthusiast or even a spaceexploration professional you'll know all of them, but if you are just a common reader with no particular science education, this list might come in handy.
After the definition of each term you can find something related to Mars or the story of "Red Desert", which would possibly make the list interesting even if you are an expert.
Aeolian turbines (or wind turbines). These are devices that convert kinetic energies from the wind into electrical power. Since Mars is quite a windy planet, such devices might be useful to produce renewable energy. The drawback is that the Martian atmosphere is thin, just 1% of Earth one, so this can be a limit to the amount of energy converted even with very strong winds.
Station Alpha has got two huge Aeolian turbines.
Airlock.This is a device that allow people and object to pass between two environments with a different air pressure. It includes a chamber with two airtight doors and an air pump able to equalise the pressure inside the chamber to the one of the other environments connected to it by means of an airtight door, so that it can be opened.
An airlock must be used on Mars, for instance, to exit or entering the habitat where the colonisers are living (Station Alpha).
You need to wear a Mars suit for exiting the station!
Airtight door.This a door that, when closed, is hermetically sealed so that air cannot pass through it.
Doors at Station Alpha are controlled by the AI, but who controls the AI?
Artificial intelligence (AI). This is the human-like intelligence exhibited by machines or software.
Station Alpha has got its on AI, same applies to the Isis, the spacecraft which brought the colonisers to Mars, to the helmet unit and to the on-board computer of the rovers.
The AI is a software acting like a human intelligence, but it is programmed my humans, who might alter it!
Augmented reality. This is a technology which enhances one's current perception of reality, by adding to it computer-generated sensory input such as sound, video, graphics, etc. The user sees these additional elements before their eyes just like they are part of reality.
Augmented reality is implemented in the helmet unit of the Mars suit, assisting the astronauts during their extravehicular activities on the planet surface.
Carbon dioxide. This is a gas also called carbonic anhydride and is a natural occurring chemical compound composed by two oxygen atoms and one carbon atom. Carbon dioxide is typically produced by the combustion of coal or hydrocarbons, the fermentation of organic matter and the respiration of all living beings.
This gas is the main component of Mars's atmosphere. It is also available in the planet in its solid state, called dry ice, which you can found in the polar areas together with water ice.
Carbon dioxide is a poisonous gas, too. Too much of it in the air can kill a person; therefore carbon dioxide filters are used in the rovers. The problem is when they are exhausted.
Anna's rover has got enough oxygen and carbon dioxide filters for fifty hours only. What is going to happen next?
Dust storm. A dust storm is a meteorological phenomenon during which a strong wind blows small particles of sand or dirt from a dry surface, transports them to another place where they are deposited. In general it is also called sand storm, but the term dust storm is more suitable when talking about Mars, where the atmosphere is so thin that it can lift only tiny particles.
Dust storms are very frequent on the Red Planet. They can partly block the solar radiation for long periods and preventing the orbiters to have a clear sight on the surface of the planet.
Anna will encounter a dust storm at the beginning of her journey, which will help her disappear into the desert.
Extravehicular activity (EVA). It's an activity done by an astronaut when going outside a spacecraft beyond Earth's atmosphere. That means the astronaut must wear a spacesuit and is completely reliant on it for environmental support. It is also called spacewalk.
Since the Martian atmosphere cannot sustain human life, a walk on the surface of Mars can also be considered a kind of EVA, even when you are not getting out from avehicle (e.g. you are in a pressurised building).
Every time you exit Station Alpha or a pressurised rover you are basically doing an extravehicular activity.
Habitat (or Hab). It's a modular, pressurised building on the surface of a planet whose atmosphere is unable to sustain human life, which is completely self-sufficient and separated by the outside.
Station Alpha is a habitat on Mars.
Johnson Space Center (JSC). This centre, whose complete name is Lyndon B. Johnson Space Center, is a NASA complex for human spaceflight training, research and flight control, located in Houston, Texas. This is the place where US and international astronauts are trained.
The crew of Isis mission was trained at the centre, which in the story also includes a dedicated building for Mars mannedexploration called Ares Building.
Launch window. It is the optimal period during which a mission should be launched so that the spacecraft can take advantage of the gravitational forces to travel toward its destination in the shortest possible time.
The launch window for Mars occurs approximately every two Earth years.
Lunae Planum. It is a large region mostly located in the northern hemisphere of Mars. Though it can appear as a flatland, it also includes many impact craters and dry river beds caused by water in early history of the Red Planet, which interrupt the plains and highlands. In its southern border it meets Valles Marineris, the most complex canyon of the Solar System.
Station Alpha is located in Lunae Planum.
Mars's gravity. The surface gravity (g) of an astronomical object is the gravitational acceleration experienced at its surface. Earth's gravity is indicated as 1 g. Since Mars is smaller than Earth so is its gravity, which is 0.38 g, i.e. 38% of Earth's gravity.
Mars colonisers feel just a little more that one third of their actual weight.
Ophir Chasma. It is a large canyon included in Valles Marineris. Ophir Chasma is located in the northern part of it, south of Lunae Planum.
This is where Anna is apparently heading for.
Ophir Planum. It is another large, flat region of Mars, connected both to Lunae Planum and Valles Marineris.
One of the habs for Hera mission (the previous failed Mars mission) is located there.
Photovoltaic panel (or solar panel). It is a set of solar photovoltaic modules electrically connected. Each module includes an assembly of solar cells. A solar panel can produce electricity from the solar radiation.
Station Alpha is equipped with a photovoltaic system, including many panels, which is the main power supply source for the habitat. A photovoltaic panel is also installed on the roof of the pressurised rovers.
Regolith. It is a layer of material, including dust, soil, broken rock and the like, covering solid rock. It is present in all terrestrial planets and moons.
Mars is covered by regolith including sand, dust, rocks and boulders.
Valles Marineris. It is a huge canyon system running approximately along Mars's equator. It is the most complex canyon of the Solar System. There are various theories about its origins, one of which says that it was shaped by carbon dioxide escaping the deep rock layers.
This is the place that Anna dreamt to visit when she was a child.
Now you are ready to start the exploration. Put on your suit, lock your helmet, and get on the rover with Anna.
Mars is waiting for you!
- ASIN : B00L979374
- Publisher : Rita Carla Francesca Monticelli; 1st edition (June 24, 2014)
- Publication date : June 24, 2014
- Language : English
- File size : 2239 KB
- Simultaneous device usage : Unlimited
- Text-to-Speech : Enabled
- Screen Reader : Supported
- Enhanced typesetting : Enabled
- X-Ray : Enabled
- Word Wise : Enabled
- Print length : 114 pages
- Lending : Enabled
- Best Sellers Rank: #969,750 in Kindle Store (See Top 100 in Kindle Store)
- Customer Reviews:
About the author
Top reviews from the United States
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Set in the first person, the narrator is Anna Persson, an astronaut living on Mars an indeterminate number of years in the future. She is a member of a Mars settlement established thirty years after the failure of a previous attempt so one might guess the date to be fifty or so years in the future.
This is a non-linear story. There are several timeframes, conflicts and plotlines established during the story: one in the moment of the narrative, as well as three set in Anna's past which we view through recollections she has while driving across the Martian terrain on a mission unclear.
First is her long term romance with Jan, a man she met by accident on a city street in Europe. She learns after a month that he is married but estranged from his wife and is angry with him for not telling her sooner. The irony in the situation later becomes clear when he learns after nearly three years, that her mission to Mars is one way.
Another plot-line concerns her astronaut selection and training. Anna is a biologist and we gather a bit of a star in her field, so the managers of the program regard recruiting her as a plum. During her training she meets her future crew-mates as well as a back-up man named Hassan, whom she dislikes immediately. Anna chalks up her dislike of him as prejudice, but as the story develops, the reader will begin to wonder.
The last plot-line she recalls is an ill fated meeting with her father, who abandoned her mother before Anna was born. Because of the abandonment, Anna despises her father and her Arabic heritage, which would account for the prejudice against Hassan. She tracks her father down just before she is to leave for Mars and confronts him. He has a family of his own and does not welcome the intrusion by the daughter he abandoned. The meeting does not go well.
In the present action of the story, Anna is approaching the great canyon known as Valles Marinaris. This story while placed in a hard science fiction setting, is also a combination mystery and thriller. The author's style is spare and keeps the reader on the subject at hand. A novella, the book is more of a prologue to the stories that follow than a complete book in itself. Ms. Monticelli has established several problems for our protagonist and I trust those problems will be resolved in the future volumes of the Red Desert series and I am looking forward to reading them. At 99 cents, this story is a bargain.
All that aside, this was very good with a complicated protagonist and bountiful subplots, all deftly laid out in truncated form. I'll be sure to grab the next in the series, which is tentatively scheduled for release in September, I believe.
Top reviews from other countries
Which is a pity, because the writing is good, and I was intrigued by the main character's past life, giving the motivations for taking a one-way ticket to Mars with too small a group for safety.
But it isn't only the setting, the spectacular atmosphere, or the plot twists that made me turn page after page without breathing; I felt a complete identification with Anna, the protagonist. She's the core of the story—her actions, her feelings, and her choices. Through flashback the author tells us of Anna's painful past, her difficult relationship with her father and her lost love. She's so real and human even though she's a brilliant scientist; her personality is as strong as her abilities in this wild and danguerous world.
The author's style is modern and fluid, no one word out of place, and is able to convey the complex topic in a very simple way.
Anna is a Swedish astronaut who, 30 years after a failed manned mission attempted to land on Mars, is part of a follow up mission of five people - she decides to make a one way journey and the story goes from there...