The Colonisation of Mars
It is 2040 and the 'Race to Mars' is long over. A large group of 'expendable' senior scientists has been sent on a one-way trip to establish a permanent Martian colony. Eccentric recluse Sam Aiken shuns the soft life in the 'Tube'. With his quirky Rollagon AI he explores the polar caps, Valles Marineris, climbs 'The Face' and Olympus Mons, digs through the wreckage, cast-off equipment and graves of early explorers and finds an ancient Martian lifeform. Delusional, manipulated by unseen forces and tormented to the edge of madness he drifts aimlessly through the Mars of Bradbury, Heinlein and others in search of sanctuary. He uncovers instead the shocking ruse behind the Colony and the ultimate reason why he was spared.
By the way, the cover is modeled after Signet Books from the 1950s. And not by accident.
The humans have returned, and they have come in their thousands, but this time they have not come as explorers, but as settlers, and the Martian AIs, divided against and within themselves, find that they are displaced in new and alarming ways. They must adapt, and the planet must adapt with them, but unknown to the arriving droves, something ancient is stirring within the Martian crust.
I’ve read it (of course, I know). A tougher read. Don’t read it if you found TCOM1 to be complete and satisfying, ‘cause this is like walking out of a dark cave into harsh sunlight. (And that is not Louise on the cover!) Or is it?