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This week, we celebrate something important: Mars. I don’t just mean here, though. This week marks the celebration of Red Planet Day, November 28, which is in honor of the launch of Spacecraft Mariner 4, back in 1964. The Mariner was the first spacecraft to bring us back photos of Mars.
In honor of the big day, a look at a (surprisingly small!) number of young adult books set on Mars. I’ve stuck with YA titles, so some of the books you might know and wonder why they’re not here—the answer is they’re not marketed as YA books. Doesn’t mean they don’t appeal to YA readers, but parameters help keep a post from sprawling out of control.
Of note: there is a stunning lack of diversity when it comes to Mars-set YA. There’s something to consider, especially in light of Jessica Pryde’s post on the lack of diversity in time-travel fantasy. I wonder how much of what she presents applies to interstellar SFF, too.
YA Set On Mars
Black Hole Sun by David Macinnis Gill
It’s hot. The air reeks of burning fuel; the rivers and lakes seethe with sulfur. In the shadows, evil men plot terror and beasts hunt the innocent. Out on the barren crags of the terraformed planet, there is nowhere to hide. No one to heed a call for help.
No one, except Durango.
Mars Girls by Mary Turzillo
Nanoannie is bored. She wants to go to clubs, wear the latest Earth fashions, and dance with nuke guys. But her life is not exciting. She lives on her family’s Pharm with her parents, little sister, and a holo-cat named Fuzzbutt. The closest she gets to clubs are on the Marsnet. And her parents are pressuring her to sign her contract over to Utopia Limited Corp before she’s even had a chance to live a little. When Kapera—a friend from online school—shows up at her Pharm asking for help, Nanoannie is quick to jump in the rover and take off. Finally an adventure!
What Nanoannie and Kapera find at the Smythe’s Pharm is more than the girls bargained for. The hab has been trashed and there are dead bodies buried in the backyard! If that wasn’t bad enough, the girls crash the rover and Kapera gets kidnapped by Facers who claim her parents are murderers! Between Renegade Nuns, Facers, and corp geeks, Nanoannie and Kapera don’t know who to trust or where to go. Kapera only wants to find her parents so they can get to Earth Orbitals and she can be treated for her leukemia. Nanoannie wants to help her friend and experience a little bit of Mars before selling her contract to the first corp that offers to buy it.
Life isn’t easy when you’re just a couple of Mars Girls.
Mars One by Jonathan Maberry
Tristan has known that he and his family were going to be on the first mission to colonize Mars since he was twelve years old, and he has been training ever since. However, knowing that he would be leaving for Mars with no plan to return didn’t stop him from falling in love with Izzy.
But now, at sixteen, it’s time to leave Earth, and he’s forced to face what he must leave behind in exchange for an uncertain future. When the news hits that another ship is already headed to colonize Mars, and the NeoLuddite terrorist group begins threatening the Mars One project, the mission’s purpose is called into question. Is this all worth it?
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