It’s been a few months since the release of Gods. And for a short time, I had no idea what my next YA novel would be. I had a few ideas, but nothing was really grabbing my interest. But I’ve finally begun work on a novel called Martian Born.
Martian Born is about a young man named Dylan Rivera, who has the distinction of being the first human being born on Mars. By the time the story starts, Dylan is seventeen, and the colony has been on the planet for twenty years. The picture I’ve linked to at the top of this post is actually a concept painting for the Mars One project, a non-profit endeavor to place a human colony on Mars within the next twenty years. My story isn’t based on Mars One, and it isn’t about the early days of establishing the colony—a fascinating story in itself—and Dylan’s colony doesn’t look like the picture. But the picture gives the right impression.
In Dylan’s world, there are two colonies, established by different political entities on Earth who have a very tense relationship. Due to this, the colonies are forbidden to communicate with each other.
However, a group of teenagers from the rival colony, led by a youth named Timur Krasnov, attempt to steal equipment from Anvesaka Colony. Dylan and his friends stop them, but this incident causes the colonies to finally come into contact. And when Dylan uncovers the truth about conditions at Huozhing Colony, and how close they are to collapse, he convinces Timur that they need to work together to stave off disaster, despite Earth politics.
Of course, there is also a romance thread between Dylan and Timur.
When I was a teenager, I devoured the YA novels (at the time, they were called “juveniles”) written by Robert Anson Heinlein. They were a bit preachy by today’s standards, full of his political ideals and morality. As an adult, I find myself questioning a lot of his assumptions, but still respecting Heinlein’s intelligence, and overall decency. He also made an attempt—unusual for a science fiction author of his generation—to acknowledge homosexuality and not pass judgement on gays. (In a side note, Heinlein was a proponent of nudism and polyamory, though of course these concepts didn’t appear in his young adult novels.)
The juveniles were full of adventure and the joy of scientific discovery. I’ve been re-reading some of them: Have Spacesuit—Will Travel, Red Planet, Citizen of the Galaxy. And also what I consider to be his most brilliant adult novel, The Moon is a Harsh Mistress. I see Martian Born as a tribute to these novels, hearkening back to the days when science fiction depicted a hopeful future, instead of a future that gives us nightmares as it approaches. I also find science fascinating, and hope to instill in this novel some of the wonder I found in the Heinlein novels.
So far, at about 10k words, the novel is a bit top-heavy with explanations of how the colonists go about their daily lives. I may have to move some of this around to get the plot moving a bit faster in the beginning. Though this has to be balanced with the fact that readers will be mostly unfamiliar with the setting.
But I’m having a great time with it!