Marooned on Mars

I recently read this book because I vaguely recalled reading it as a youngster. For the first third of the book, my recollection seemed correct, but then the book diverged from what I remembered. Maybe I didn’t read it back in the late 60s after all.

Marooned on Mars cover

My copy is from Thunderchild Publishing. Thunderchild is re-issuing all kinds of “golden age” sci fi.

The cover illustration (above) is great.

  • Original 1952 cover by Paul Orban
  • At least 10 astronauts depicted, Eros had a 7-man crew, which includes our hero, Chuck Svenson, as a stowaway
  • Why is Earth’s moon in the sky of Mars?
  • Still cool, very 1950s

My copy is clearly typeset in Microsoft Word, but not very well. I think they transcribed the 1952 text by hand. There’s a couple of instances of “well” instead of “we’ll” for example. The text also consistently refers to “radio” as “radar”. I can’t tell if this is a usage consistent with the original, which would mean it’s a giant misunderstanding on Del Rey’s part, or it’s a Thunderchild Publishing global search and replace gone wrong, or if it’s a typo made during hand-transcription. Still, kudos to them for having the patience to do this transcribing, and re-issuing

The obvious comparison is to Andy Weir’s The Martian.

The Martian takes place on a planet that many robots have explored, and Andy Weir made a good faith effort to have accurate orbital mechanics. Del Rey doesn’t let rocket propulsion or orbital mechanics get in the way of his plot. Mark Watney gets marooned on Mars, but by dint of hard work and knowledge and luck, makes it back to Earth. The book Marooned on Mars doesn’t make clear that Chuck and the rest of the crew get back to Moon City.

Marooned on Mars has the mandatory “meteorite puncturing the vehicle” scene, which does cause some problems that lead to the Eros crash landing on Mars.

If this book didn’t have some nostalgia value, it would be a complete waste of time.

Mea Culpa

In my Project Mars post, I said that Lester Del Rey had written a 4-part fictional illustration of von Braun’s space program that included Marooned on Mars. I was wrong. Marooned on Mars isn’t even slightly connected to von Braun’s Collier’s magazine space program.

This book isn’t related to Del Rey’s Mission to the Moon either, except maybe stylistically.