Snow on Mars (a novel)

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Snow on Mars (a novel)

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feb. 17, 2016, 10:39am

Snow on Mars by Branden Frankel ****½ 2/17/15 (Hyperlinks not working)

The story opens twenty years after Earth has all-out nuclear war and the only humans alive are stranded in a small Martian colony. The population has been winnowed to about 500 through violence and suicide, and the few who go on are consolidated in the same complex but live in two groups: those who just want to keep on going, and those who follow a cult leader determined to bring down all that's left of the race.

Adler, the narrator, is in his mid-30s and remembers life on Earth, from which he emigrated with his family when he was 7. Some colonists are older, and some are younger, born on Mars and with no feelings for Earth one way or the other. Mars was meant to be terraformed, but not long before Earth became uninhabitable the terraforming process poisoning the rain and snow that falls, so life is rather desperate, confined to the indoors or to the use of space suits. The sole substance available to provide nutrition is a reside of a fungal process which is made into "sustainability bars". It's also the stuff made into coffee and cigarettes. In other words, everything takes and smells the same and is pretty awful, but it's what they have.

Now someone has murdered one of the few engineers still living, reducing the odds of human survival still further. Adler starts looking into it, more out of a sense of need than any ability or training.

In addition to being a rewarding story (Mars, post-apocalypse, and mystery combined!), Adler's observations and thoughts on life produce a thoroughly believable sense of what such a situation would feel like. How does one go on living in a hopeless situation with no rescue possible and the population falling each year. Just how does someone find enough meaning to go on living?

Highly recommended for anyone with a love of Martian or post-apocalyptic fiction.