• Spider Star

    Spider Star

    The human colony on the planet Argo has long explored and exploited the technology left behind by an extinct alien race. But then an archaeology team accidentally activates a terrible weapon...
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  • Praise for Star Dragon

    Spider Star

    "Seldom does a storytelling talent come along as potent and fully mature as Mike Brotherton. His complex characters take you on a voyage that is both fiercely credible and astonishingly imaginative. This is Science Fiction."
    -- David Brin

    "Star Dragon is terrific fare, offering readers a fusion of hard science and grand adventure."
    -- Locus Magazine

    "Star Dragon is steeped in cosmology, the physics of interstellar travel, exobiology, artificial intelligence, bioscience. Brotherton, author of many scientific articles in refereed journals, has written a dramatic, provocative, utterly convincing hard science sf novel that includes an ironic twist that fans will love."
    -- Booklist starred review

    "Readers hungry for the thought-provoking extrapolation and rigorous technical detail of old-fashioned hard SF are sure to enjoy astronomer Brotherton's first novel."
    -- Publishers Weekly

    "Mike Brotherton, himself a trained astrophysicist, combines the technical acuity and ingenuity of Robert Forward with the ironic, postmodern stance and style of M. John Harrison. In this, his debut novel, those twin talents unite to produce a work that is involving on any number of levels. It's just about all you could ask for in a hardcore SF adventure."
    -- Paul di Fillippo, SCI-FI.COM

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Would You Accept a One-Way Ticket to Mars?

September 4th, 2009

This is the question that Lawrence Krauss asked few days ago in a New York Times op-ed.   He suggested that quite a lot of engineer and astronaut types would be willing to take a trip to Mars, to stay, without expectations of a return voyage home.

This plan has two significant merits.

First, it makes the mission simpler and cheaper, at least when it comes to some hard physical constraints involving radiation shielding and fuel.   We can gamble against the sun on a short trip to the moon, but a longer trip to Mars is a bad bet.

Second, the manned space program is sold, at least philosophically and long-term, as a step to colonizing other worlds and getting our eggs out of only one basket (Earth).   So, why not start having people try to live on other planets?   The Apollo-style program of visit, leave, and stop returning is in some ways worse than not going at all, at least for this long-term goal.

Krauss worries that the public may not have enthusiasm for a manned Mars program if the astronauts are not expected to return.   Whether or not they successfully live any length of time on Mars, it may feel like a death sentence and be bittersweet rather than triumphant.   I agree that this is a worry.

I’ve given some thought to applying for astronaut in the past, and one of my college professors actually did become an astronaut, so these issues are not too unfamiliar to me.   My first novel Star Dragon featured a space voyage so long it was in some respects a one-way ticket into the future, with little expectation of the ship’s crew returning to a familiar world ever again.

Personally, I think I’d need something extra like Billy Pilgrim in Slaughterhouse Five, when the aliens who kidnap him let him pick the woman of his dreams (Valerie Perine, in the movie version) to share his exile from Earth.

So how about it?   Would you go?

Would YOU Accept a One-Way Ticket to Mars?

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