One Way by S.J. Morden is satisfying hard science fiction with a twist. The novel opens with the appropriation of convicts by a private entity to build a base for NASA on Mars. The narrative follows Frank Kitterage, a prisoner who is recruited for his knowledge of construction, as he trains to become a pseudo-astronaut and learns to work with the others in the team. The squad is tested and tested, and finally allowed to travel to the red planet. Once they get there, many obstacles are put in their path while trying to assemble systems to produce air, water, and food, but what they didn’t bargain for is a possible killer in their midst.
While a layman like me wouldn’t have a clue if Morden’s fictional science would work, through Frank’s voice it is credible. That being said, a little more development would have definitely helped to flesh out the characters. For example, their lives before lock-up are only slightly detailed which makes them somewhat two-dimensional and without sources of motivation.
Overall, the novel should hold up to the inevitable comparisons to The Martian, and do well as a murder mystery in space.
4 out of 5 stars
Thank you to NetGalley, Orbit Books, and Mr. Morden for an advanced copy of the book to review.