Description: NOTE: This First Edition is now Out of Print (As of June 2005). A Second Edition was published on August 01, 2005.
In 2037, at a sunspot cycle lowpoint, the first manned missions head out to Mars, a small Japanese mission to Ares Valley, with three landers, and a large NASA/European mission to Kasei Valley, with seven landers. The Japanese mission goes wrong first, leaving an elderly scientist, who is also a Zen master, as the only survivor, facing starvation. Then the NASA mission goes terribly wrong.
As the story opens, the mission suffers a catastrophe. The NASA landing site is completely wrecked, and all eleven astronauts at the site are killed instantly. Only two, an American engineer and a French woman doctor and DNA expert, who are away at the time on a rover mission, survive, but with food for only a few weeks.
At a hearing in Washington next day, there is shock when it is revealed that a rescue would cost as much as the original mission. A misguided U.S. President, believing that the huge sums needed would be better spent saving lives on Earth instead, gets the CIA to sabotage the mission's seventh lander, due to arrive shortly, so that the two NASA survivors are left without food. They have no choice but to kill themselves, to avoid a death of slow starvation.
The American takes sleeping pills and goes to sleep in a Martian grave, to die when his air runs out. The Frenchwoman, watching nearby, suffers a complete emotional collapse as she waits for him to die, an experience that transforms her. But then, something else happens, entirely unexpectedly, triggering a great saga.
The Frenchwoman has been transformed into the first Martian, a person who no longer cares about Earth, and who is detemined not only to survive on Mars, but to prosper. She comes up with a highly original master plan to build a great resource in a Martian Shangri-La called Leaf Valley, a sanctuary on Mars that actually exists. The only problem is that her master plan is just about impossible in the time available. It involves an enormous struggle, requiring superhuman feats of endurance and amazing resourcefulness, as well as great rover train journeys across Mars.
Eventually, Earth gets another shock when it discovers just what has been let loose on Mars, while those in high places live in fear of what may be revealed. At the end, which is both climactic and anticlimactic, justice is done, as the Great Powers draw up their competing plans for gaining control of the trillion dollar resource in Leaf Valley. There is thus a strong hint that this Martian saga has not really ended.