by Frederik Pohl
An Orb Book, 2011, $16.99, 267 pages
Release Date: April 26, 2011
This republication of a 1976 classic is remarkably timely, concerned as it is with the affects of overpopulation, dwindling resources, war, and the dangers of colonizing another planet offset by the imperative to survive well. A mystery component ends the book with a revelation that kicks the whole story up an octave, like the final chorus of Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony. Limpidly well-written, it is startlingly on the mark in its predictions of politics and environmental breakdown.
This is a man-alone adventure about Roger Torraway, who is torn away from his good life as a back-up astronaut to undergo radical alteration and then sent away to Mars to establish a footing so that others, unenhanced, can follow. He is at once sacrifice and pioneer, crucified in the laboratory and launched into near-immortality on the red planet.
It takes a slight mental shift to read SF written before social networking rewrote our templates, but this one is most rewarding, definitely worth the adjustment. ~~ Chris Paige