Friday 21 July 2023

Far Away, The Pale Blue Dot - Lucca DeJardins

Far Away, The Pale Blue Dot
Lucca DeJardins
ISBN 9798395506023
eISBN 9798223052203

This was the first story I have read by Lucca but it will not be the last. I already have the volume he edited and that a different version of this story appears in, Mars: Planetary Anthology Series Volume 7. And Exploring Infinity edited by Richard Paolinelli is on my wish list. His debut novel Nick of T.I.M.E. is due out later this year or early next year. But back to this story. As mentioned a shorter version of this novella appeared previously in an anthology. This is the revised and expanded version of that story. With some stuff that was cut put back in place. The description of this volume is:

“Retired journalist and author, Michael “Mac” McMullin, is offered a life-changing seat on the first manned mission to Mars.

At first, both he and mission specialist Aiko Tsukuda, are outcasts among the eight-person crew. As the flight leaves Earth and heads for Mars, Mac quickly proves his worth… and discovers the last thing he thought he’d find in space. A second chance at love.

But planting humanity on Mars is a difficult task as the crew quickly finds out. As they face and overcome each new challenge, they discover that Mac is a man who will never give up, never stop fighting to make the mission succeed.

A catastrophic failure leaves Mac stranded on Mars alone, help from Earth several months away. He must use all of his skill, wit, and grim determination to keep mankind’s foothold on Mars secure.

He’ll have to overcome great odds until a relief crew can arrive, especially after all communication with Earth – the far away, pale blue dot in the Martian sky - is lost.”

This was a fantastic read right from the get go. I was hooked very early on and as the story progressed appreciated the skill and craft in writing this story even more. Novels give you a lot of room to tell a story, but short stories and novellas are a very different creature. Not all people who write novels can write novellas, or short stories. But this story is masterfully written. The characters are amazing. The plot is engaging, intense and deeply moving. In some ways the story reminds me of some of Frank Herbert’s non Dune stories, or some of the stories of Alfred Bester. The writing is tight, clean and crisp. 

I seem to be in a season of books about Terraforming Mars. Some of the others I have read are:

Under an Orange Sky - Manuel Alfonseca
In the Shadow of Deimos - Jane Killick's

And the non-fiction volume:

Terraforming Mars - Edited by Martin Beech, Joseph Seckbach, and Richard Gordon

And also from Tuscany Bay, The Hyperion Signals by Josh Griffing, which is about the same sort of work on Titan. Each of these volumes looks at humanities attempts to expand beyond our small blue marble. And in this one Mac comes close to losing his marbles. But His focus on the mission and those behind on the small blue dot give him the strength and courage to carry on. 

This volume was an excellent read. I finished it a few days before writing the review and it keeps coming back to mind. I will likely pick it up and give it another read soon, which is one of the highest complements I can give a book. It is an awesome novella that I can easily recommend. I know I will be reading the two anthologies he contributed to as I await the publication of that debut novel.  If you love good classic science fiction pick this up and give it a try, I am certain you will love it.

Note: For reviews of all books from Tuscany Bay click here.

Books by Lucca DeJardins:
Nick of T.I.M.E.

Contributed to:
Exploring Infinity
Fantastic Middle Schools Volume 4
Mars: Planetary Anthology Series Volume 7 

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