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Review: Water on Mars – Kate Rauner

Water on Mars - Kate Rauner

Genre: Sci-Fi, Colonization

Get It On Amazon | Series Box Set

About The Book

A girl from an outlying fish farm. A dangerous job on the unforgiving Martian surface. Dreams of fun turn to dread.

When Bliss lands a job inside a lava tube, she leaves her boring life back home for the colony’s largest city. Imagine, over 600 people. Her assignment demands long miserable hours on the cold, airless surface, but when the job’s complete, there will be nothing like it anywhere else on Mars.

Unfortunately, her boss is crazy, and some colonists make life miserable for a newcomer. At least her handsome teammate becomes an ally with an exciting secret. He’s waiting for something special in a rare cargo shipment from Earth.

But scoundrels drag Bliss into their deadly schemes and threaten everyone’s life. Can a simple fish farmer save her colony?

The Review

Kate Rauner dips back into her Colony on Mars series for the fourth time with Water on Mars. Like most of the previous books, this one follows a single viewpoint character. In Water for Mars, it’s Bliss, who comes from a small settlement called Hibes and has just arrived in Kamp, one of the “big cities” of Mars, with almost 700 people.

She almost immediately runs afoul of a few “basics” – citizens who take advantage of laws ensuring basic food and lodging and never do any actual work to support the colony. But she also makes some new contacts, and starts her internship working for the grouchy Vance, who has grandiose plans to build a waterfall park inside a lava tube.

Bliss also runs afoul of the power-hungry Sondra, who uses the basics as her own personal gang and who tries to rope the innocent but not stupid bliss into several of her schemes. But Bliss is learning how to play the system, and is figuring out what’s truly important to her, and who.

I love popping back into Rauner’s version of Mars with each new book. This one takes place a few generations after Hermit on Mars. Kamp and District have been connected by a covered transit system, and Cerberus has become a leading technological center. A number of other settlements have popped up, each specializing in a different thing, and the culture is changing as the constant struggle for survival begins to ease and Martians find time for other pursuits.

Rauner uses her innate skills to build upon her world’s society and culture with each new book in the series, as the colony adapts and evolves. It’s fascinating to ride along with her characters and see how Mars has changed since my last visit. Here characters tend to be younger, so there’s a sense of riding along on their shoulders as they discover their world which is infectious.

Bliss is a neophyte who is forced to adapt quickly to the wider world, but somehow never loses her moral compass even when she has to fight a little dirty to protect what’s important to her. There’s just enough danger to keep things interesting, and a number of risks and triumphs along the way that carry the plot along until the last part, where an unexpected but totally logical development puts things on steroids in a race to the end.

Another great book in a fantastic series. I can’t wait to read the last one.

The Reviewer

Scott is the founder of Queer Sci Fi, and a fantasy and sci fi writer in his own right, with more than 30 published short stories, novellas and novels to his credit, including two trilogies.

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