Marooned on Mars

Lester del Rey
Marooned on Mars Cover

Marooned on Mars


While waiting for The Martian to show up on my desk, I decided to read this young adult novel from the prolific Lester del Rey.

Chuck, a citizen of the moon, has been selected for the first manned Mars voyage. Unfortunately, when events move the schedule up, our hero is now too young (by charter) to make the trip. At the suggestion of a veteran pilot, he stows away on the ship, to the approval of the crew.

From that point in the book, the story is pure adventure, excellent young adult fare. When the possibility arises that they will be Marooned (ala the title), Chuck bemoans his negative impact on the crew (ala The Cold Equations), but for the most part this is a fairly light read. Bubble helmets, mobile plants and alien ruins each make an appearance.

Written before Mariner and other visitors uncovered the real conditions on the red planet, the science here is definitely dated. The target audience and most test pilots at the time were male, and the entire crew here is also. Neither of these detracted overly much from this tale, written some 64 years ago.

Lester del Rey contributed 11 of the 35 books to the Winston Science Fiction series, along with Poul Anderson, Ben Bova, and Arthur C Clarke. Marooned was one of the first five books, all of which were aimed at the juvenile audience. Del Rey went on to become an editor of pulp magazines and books and lend his name to several excellent short story collections. He was named the 11th SFWA Grand Master in 1991, an award later renamed for founder Damon Knight.