Description: DIFFERENCES BETWEEN THE FIRST AND SECOND EDITIONS
The story in this Second Edition (2005) is the same as in the First Edition of 'As It Is On Mars' (2001). The major difference lies in the way the story is narrated in the beginning chapters.
In both editions, the story begins with the explosion of the return rocket at the landing site of NASA's first manned mission to Mars: the explosion wrecks the landing site in early 2038, and only two astronauts survive, an American engineer and a French medical doctor.
In the Second Edition, there is a completely new Chapter One that directly relates the dramatic events on Mars as they happen, both at the time of the explosion and in the immediate aftermath. The reader can now experience first hand the emotional trauma the two survivors go through, as they struggle to cope with the disaster. In contrast, in Chapter One of the First Edition (2001), we find out about the explosion aftermath second hand, the next day, when the NASA chief reports to a Congressional Hearing on the disaster.
The Revised Second Edition thus lacks nothing of the story in the First Edition, but pulls the reader into the drama of the story's beginning much more quickly, by presenting it in a direct, action-oriented manner, rather than in the more subdued, gradual manner of the Congressional Hearing in the First Edition.
A new, short Chapter Two now covers the NASA chief's report at the Congressional Hearing, but the remaining fourteen chapters are the same in both editions, except as follows. Minor errors in the First Edition have been eliminated, and narration has been improved. In addition, some minor scientific facts about Mars, mostly geological, have been updated: we understand the geology of Mars a lot better today than five years ago, thanks mainly to the NASA's Mars Exploration Rover missions of 2004/05. The existing map has also been replaced by three labeled satellite image maps (a western Kasei Valley map, a Leaf Valley region map, and an Ares Valley map). Finally, a further paragraph on Zen enlightenment has been added to Chapter Nine: Zen Master. ['As It Is On Mars' contains a simple, rational, exemplified explanation of Zen.]
'As It Is On Mars' goes on to tell the story that unfolds when the American and French governments secretly abandon the two explosion survivors to starve to death, and Japan consigns an elderly Zen master from a failed Japanese mission to the same fate, all three governments unaware of just what they are setting loose on Mars. For a better coverage of the story's beginning, see the content description below, excerpted from the book's dust flap.
The Revised Second Edition has sixteen chapters; word count: 175,000 words. [The First Edition is now Out of Print.]
BOOK DESCRIPTION (Excerpted from the dust flap)
The story begins in February 2038, the year of an attractive window for a manned mission to Mars. The first manned missions have landed-an American/European NASA mission in Kasei Valley, and a small Japanese mission in Ares Valley, some 1700 miles to the east.
The Japanese mission arrived first, but was crippled by the loss of its farm building. An elderly scientist who is also a Zen master is the only one still alive-facing starvation.
The large thirteen-member NASA mission landed later. There were originally fourteen, but one was lost on the journey to Mars. Except for this, the mission is a success initially. On the morning the story opens, however, in February 2038, a catastrophe strikes the NASA mission. The landing site is practically obliterated, and eleven astronauts are killed instantly.
But that morning, an American engineer, John Erway, and a French doctor, Denise Lavoisier, are away on a rover expedition. They come back to wrecked landing site, but manage to get a mesage to Mission Control.
A hearing on the disaster takes place in Washington next day. It turns out that the stranded pair have food for only two weeks. The NASA mission's seventh lander is due to arrive in ten days, however, carrying enough food to keep the pair alive for three years.
There is shock in government when the NASA chief reveals that rescuing the two survivors would cost about as much as the original Mars mission: $400 billion dollars! A conspiracy is hatched, without NASA's knowledge, and the CIA sabotages the seventh lander's antenna. NASA loses control, and can't send the lander the commands needed to prevent it from burning up in the Martian atmosphere. There is now no hope for the stranded pair, and they break off contact with Earth, to die in private.
But John Erway has figured out the CIA plot, so that the two do realize they are being sacrificed, to conserve hundreds of billions of dollars for social programs that could save many lives.
They are not prepared to endure a death of slow starvation, however, and prefer an easier way. John goes first. He takes sleeping pills, and gets in his grave one evening, to die in his sleep when his air runs out. But then, as Denise sits sobbing, waiting for him to die, an event takes place that nobody could have anticipated.
This unexpected event triggers the story in the book, converting the initial tragic drama to a tale of high adventure and heroic deeds, and a true Martian saga.