The year is 2035, and the crew from the first expedition to Mars is returning to Earth. The crewmembers are anxious to get home, and ennui pervades the ship. The mood is broken by a series of mysterious events that jeopardize their safety. Someone or something is threatening the crew. Is it an alien being? A psychotic crewmember? A malfunctioning computer? The truth raises questions about the crewmembers' fate and that of the human race.
In this novel, the intent is to show real psychological issues that could affect a crew returning from a long-duration mission to Mars. The storyline presents a mystery that keeps the reader guessing, yet the issues at stake are based on the findings from the author's research and other space-related work over the past 40+ years. The novel touches on actual plans being discussed for such an expedition as well as notions involving the search for Martian life and panspermia.
The underlying science, in particular the psychological, psychiatric, and interpersonal elements, are introduced and discussed by the author in an extensive appendix.
Nick Kanas is an Emeritus Professor of Psychiatry at the University of California, San Francisco, where he directed the group therapy training program. For over 20 years he conducted research in group therapy, and for nearly 20 years after that he was the Principal Investigator of NASA-funded research on astronauts and cosmonauts. He is the co-author of Space Psychology and Psychiatry, which won the 2004 International Academy of Astronautics Life Science Book Award.
Dr. Kanas has presented talks on space psychology and on celestial mapping at several regional and World Con science fiction conventions. He has been an amateur astronomer for over 50 years and is an avid reader of science fiction. He is also the author of Star Maps: History, Artistry, and Cartography and Solar System Maps: From Antiquity to the Space Age, both published by Springer.