Guest Post - Elon Musk's Plan for Mars

Here is a guest blog post by John Hawthorne from IQS Directory

Elon Musk’s Mission To Mars (Is This Even Possible?)
John Hawthorne, October 25, 2017

In the movie The Martian, Matt Damon is stranded on the planet Mars after his crew is caught in a rip-roaring sand storm. The crew is forced to evacuate the planet, leaving Damon to fend for himself and survive the harsh climate. Thankfully, Damon is the ultimate survivor. He’s survived numerous assassination attempts in the Bourne Identity series, fought off freakish monsters in The Wall, and somehow survived another space disaster in Interstellar. If anything, he can handle a little loneliness on Mars. Thanks to his ingenuity and mechanical genius, he manages to create a shelter, grow potatoes, and eventually be rescued. It’s like Apollo 13 has a one night stand with Castaway.

And while all this may seem absurd and far fetched, Elon Musk wants to make this, and a whole lot more happen. In approximately six years. Yes, this may gargantuan plan may seem a bit odd given that Musk and his SpaceX crew struggled mightily simply to get a rocket to land on a platform in the middle of the ocean.

But Musk doesn’t seem intimidated. He has a very specific plan for how he will get a rocket to Mars, as well as what will happen to make it the planet livable. Like I said, this is The Martian on a massive dose of steroids.

Introducing The Big F****** Rocket

Musk’s ambitious plan centers around a rocket that he affectionately calls the “BFR” (Big F******* Rocket). When will this monstrosity take to the skies? He plans to have it space-borne by 2022, with four of them headed to Mars by 2024. The innovator recently unveiled plans for a new spacecraft that he says would allow humans to colonize Mars, build a base on the moon, and travel to anywhere on Earth in under an hour.

Continue Reading…

rocket launch

Red Desert

Book Review: Red Desert series by Rita Carla Francesca Monticelli.
(Available on Amazon)


I first discovered this book series on Twitter, and Rita kindly offered a copy of book one for free. It was a quick read, and I decided to carry on through the rest of the series. Because the books are a continuous story it didn't make sense to just review the first book, I'm reviewing the entire series.

At first, through the fairly quick read of Point Of No Return, the story (primarily following exobiologist Anna Persson) has a fairly similar feel to Andy Weir's Martian novel. Lots of science, a focus on accuracy of the science, great descriptions of what it might be like to be on Mars, to see that barren but varied landscape. Descriptions of how one might live on Mars, the difficulties, the travel from Earth to Mars, how you might handle the differences in gravity, all nicely filled out to give you a good table to set the story on. Unlike The Martian, there are multiple characters living on Mars, so the personal story told is often focused on the interactions between these people. Where The Martian is a loner, Red Desert gives us a cast of characters forced to live and work in close quarters for several years, and they must learn to deal with that reality.

Then the story takes a twist. I won't give away any spoilers, but I will say the Red Desert turns from speculative science to science fiction, with more emphasis on the fiction. It's in the early stages of book two this turn begins, and I for one enjoyed it and got hooked even deeper into the story. I'm all for realism in sci-fi (The Martian, Interstellar, The Expanse) but I'm also all for imaginative fiction that stretches the imagination. Monticelli's series adds elements that would be at home in an episode of Doctor Who, and morphs from a how-it-might-be science manual to a sci-fi thrill ride. It reminded me of Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child's books, giving a twist of the bizarre to otherwise normal crime stories and dramas. Red Dessert combines these elements to stay scientifically grounded in the background of the story, while taking on a more freewheeling ride for the characters.

I do have minor quibbles. On a technical level, this series was translated from Monticelli's native Italian into British English. I'm ok with the Brit part, but here and there I ran into wrong verb tenses, or wrong singular/plural nouns. A minor distraction that could be taken care of with another round of editing (and to be fair, I'm finding some of the same in John Scalzi's Ghost Brigades right now). My other quibble is that much of the foundation of the relations between characters is told in flashbacks, and I think the flashbacks were spread too far and too deep into he story. Sometimes the motivations of the characters were hard to decipher until a much later flashback filled in some critical detail. I think some of the flashbacks could have been sliced in earlier. Despite this it didn't take away from my overall enjoyment of the story and I can still recommend it to sci-fi fans looking to take an imaginative trip to the red planet. Click on the Amazon link above and take the trip yourself.