Ace, July 2001, 24.95, 272 pp.
After a year in space, the five-person team on board the Beagle are getting ready to land on Mars. The landing, like everything else that follows, does not go smoothly but it does get the astronauts there in one piece. Within the first few weeks there, they have found a gemstone that is harder than a diamond and microorganisms that prove there is life on the red planet.
The astronauts are elated by their discovery of life on Mars but on Earth, hysteria sets in, fanned by a popular writer and a televangelist. They fear that the astronauts will bring back some pandemic disease to earth. A fuel line leakage leaves them stranded on Mars and the president, who is up for reelection, is not pushing a rescue mission. This means that the five stranded Americans will have to find a way to get themselves off planet or die when their air and food runs out.
Robert Zubrin has written a science fiction that measures up to the works of Author C Clarke and Robert Heinlein. The politics that are involved in a space mission are astounding to behold and the interactions of the five stranded people who have been cooped up together for three years ring true (ever share a house with another generation?). FIRST LANDING is a work of hope, written by a visionary who sees the possibilities in the not too distant future.
This report prepared by Harriet Klausner