Sunday, September 30, 2018

A Destabilizing Thriller - One Way

Sci-Fi is not my thing, but I'm willing to venture into space if there's something else in it for me. That was the case for One Way, which was touted as Agatha Christie's And Then There Were None on Mars.

What a trip. S.J. Morden, the bona-fide scientist turned novelist, threw all the technical details at me that I could handle - which was good, because I'm not a scientist and I don't read sci-fi - and it made the whole tale really accessible to me, and I was able to envision all the settings properly in my head, which I probably couldn't have done without guidance.

One Way had quite an impact on me, especially the first few days on Mars. They were terrifying, and showed with cold, perfect clarity just how hostile another planet can be to Earth life, never mind that some of the deaths seem to be done with human hands. Just what you need when you're struggling not to starve or freeze to death, right? The best way I can describe this book's influence on me is "destabilizing" - scenes of deathly illness and complete isolation from anything familiar resonated deeply, and as a person who suffers from vertigo, I know that dizzyness, nausea, confusion, and paranoia are no joke. Add in that you're on another planet, and may never feel right again? Shiiiiit.

From a cerebral point of view, I appreciated the parallels with our nation's own colonial history. It wasn't heavy-handed at all, and I doubt it would be noticeable to most non-history-oriented people, but I liked the treatment of the labor force and the questions of prisoners vs. slaves, and the value of the lives of the people put in charge of building the first permanent base on Mars. The high expectations for labor paired with the bare-bones supplies and resources felt really authentic and organic.

The interspersed memos from the planners and funders of XO's Mars base added another important, sinister layer, that of corporate greed and immorality, and I was left wanting more - which I think is where the sequel, No Way, is headed. Let's hope so.

K. Rating: 4.5/5

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