The Mars Run
by Christopher Gerrib
Review by Ernest Lilley
Lulu Press Paperback ISBN/ITEM#: 1411699734
Date: April, 2006 List Price $12.94 Amazon US / Amazon UK / Show Official Info /
The book opens with what should be a major trauma for Janet. A training partner (and boyfriend) dies in the middle of a vacuum training simulation and she finds herself at the center of an inquest to determine if it was her fault. Does this shake her up? Sadly, not so you'd notice. Soon she graduates and joins her ship, outward bound for Mars.
Spaceflight turns out to be pretty boring stuff, which is reasonable, at least until they get taken captive by space pirates, which is not. Then she finds that it's only the combination of a real gift for astronautics and ample feminine charms that will keep her alive. Occasionally she wonders why she bothers - as things go from bad to worse and on from there. She gets an offer from the pirates to join their not at all merry crew, but (and I suppose we have to respect her for this) she manages to mess that up with premature dreams of escape. Admittedly, the author puts her in some tough ethical spots - and doesn't offer her any way out. Then when an African warlord takes an interest in turning the pirates into his own private space fleet things really go off the tracks for Janet, and the reader's credibility, which was stretched pretty thin all along, is strained beyond the breaking point. Despite all this, she's a fairly likable character, and I kept on to find out what would happen to her.
The sad thing is that that this could have been a fairly decent YA title with some constructive editing, which it unfortunately didn't get. There's something about the author's characters that I find appealing, though I'm afraid he gets bored or frustrated too easily with dealing with their interplay and resorts to major plot swings all too often. I liked the claustrophobic and more or less helpless feeling that characterizes space travel, though I'm not at all sure that astronauts will ever sink to the salty seafarer types he's clearly mining for detail. I'd recommend that the author join a writer's group and brace for some criticism if he wants to stick with it and keep on trying. If he does, it's entirely possible that he'll get to the point where he's turning out something decent, but he's not there yet.