Marsbound - Joe Haldeman

**** Space opera and irony 

How cute this “Marsbound”! This was my first feeling when I started reading it and continued throughout the novel, which is actually the first of a trilogy. For some strange miracle it has arrived in Italy, too. In fact, the reason is simple: it is a medium-sized novel. But this is not, in my opinion, certainly its biggest value, indeed quite the opposite.
But let’s proceed in an orderly fashion. The young heroine-by-accident Carmen Dula, who together with her family moves to Mars, makes its appearance in this novel. With a not so subtle irony, Carmen tells us about all stages of her adventure, the journey, the discovery of sex and love, the difficult life of the colony until her totally random encounter with the Martians. Next to many very hard sci-fi stuff, through which Haldeman tells us all the technical aspects of travel and life on the red planet (not without some imprecision and flight of fancy), is the part of this ironic and sometimes really surreal girl who makes you laugh out loud while she is several times on the verge of dying. You notice something odd about the protagonist, as often happens when an author chooses to narrate from the point of view of a protagonist of a different gender, but that does nothing but increase the comic effect and entertain the reader.
As I said, though, the book is short, which is quite unusual for a space opera, especially in a novel like this that spans a fairly long period of time. And so parts with an involving rhythm alternate others in which the story runs forward, almost fast forward, catapulting the reader into a completely different reality and making them miss those feelings from the previous part. This gives the book an episodic touch, with the disadvantage that not all episodes have the same effectiveness in making the reader identify themselves with the story. In many scenes, especially towards the end, you have the feeling that the author is in a hurry to conclude with the result that the feelings of the characters show lack of credibility and the same heroic actions occur so quickly to prevent the reader to enjoy them.
In the other hand it is still a really nice read, which I recommend to those who like that kind of science fiction that does not take itself too much seriously.
Marsbound on