Keeper & Sol, 1999, 351 pp.
After years of feeling alone in the universe, a stunning discovery occurs when a repeat transmission of radio waves emulates from Mars. NASA maintenance engineer Tyler Anderson, toilet unclogger superstar works on translating the incoming message though he is unaware of a conspiracy involving his superiors. Instead he soon realizes that someone on Mars is begging for help, but first he must fix a stuffed toilet.
The world's space exploration community puts together a manned space mission that includes Tyler to investigate the transmission at its source. On Mars, the crew finds an abandoned still functioning complex, apparently built by an alien civilization that for whatever logistical reason left behind their junk but technological treasures to the earthlings who came after them. However, the crew is soon going to learn how Pandora felt when she opened the box. Things begin to wrong and some of the crew die while communication with mission control fails. Tyler concludes that the message was not a call for help, but a warning that may prove too late to heed.
Once readers accept the Walter Mitty like Tyler turning into Rocky defeating Apollo Creed by translating what everyone else thought was noise and being added to the astronaut team, fans will enjoy a strong science fiction thriller. The story line makes the flight to Mars, the subsequent landing, and the climax seem so real that readers will believe NASA and the Russians conducted a joint mission to the Angry Red Planet. Tyler may not at first be suited for the job, but the audience will like him and forget his job description as he is the hero of this epic space adventure.
This report prepared by Harriet Klausner