Here is another one of the comments for Air from a young Wishing Shelf reader. Generation Mars books lean heavily on procedural plots in which the characters must solve problems with what they have on hand. I’m glad this reader enjoyed that.
“The story is good, but I still thought it wasn´t the best part of the book. The best part was the solving problems using engineering and things like that. I love fixing things and trying to work out how things work, so this book was perfect for me. I did enjoy getting to know Cas and Ori, and I will try to find other books from this writer.” Boy, aged 12
image: Illustration by Luis Peres Children’s Books Illustrator for Scratching the Surface (slightly modified by me)
Wishing Shelf is unique in that they involve younger readers as reviewers, providing educational experience for them and demographically relevant feedback for authors. Here is one of the comments for Air:
“I thought this was a good adventure story. Also, the physics stuff is interesting too. It made me think about how difficult it would be to live on a different planet.” Boy, aged 12
Here’s the soundtrack I play in my office lately while I write. I don’t know how a collapsing glacier on Mars would sound to those stuck within, but I imagine it wouldn’t be too far from this.
The lights have gone out. The tunnels have broken and shifted around you. And these sounds constantly rumble and zing up through your feet and the thin atmosphere outside your helmet. Do you have enough air to find your way out?
Of relevance to my next book, Water, is the question of subglacial water.
Here’s reporting on a recent study that modeled glacial movement on Mars. It has been assumed that most glaciers on Mars have been frozen to their beds for quite some time. The question has been, did they ever move or have they always been stuck? This study suggests that they may have been able to move in the past, though more slowly than glaciers on Earth.
It’s an interesting piece, but doesn’t help my case. For Water, I need a significant reservoir of subglacial water in the present. This is where I’m going to have to exercise some creative license and claim that remnants of ancient vulcanism have kept my fictional ice sheet wet at the bottom. At some point in any work of science fiction, one must lean into the fiction part. This is where that happens for Water.