Captain’s Log – before mars (Emma Newman)

Ahoy there mateys!  This is the second companion novel to the wonderful sci-fi novel planetfall which continues to linger in me thoughts as being a super pleasurable previous read.  As a companion novel, the books can be read in any order even though personally I am glad I read them in publishing order.  Planetfall showed the story of  a human colony on a remote alien planet far far from Earth.  Book two, after atlas, is a sci-fi murder mystery novel set on Earth forty years after Atlas has left the planet.

This third installment involves Anna Kubrick, a geologist by trade and artist by hobby.  She has been sent to Mars by her employers primarily because of her art.  Her billionaire boss, who owns all rights to Mars, wants her to be the first person to paint the scenery of Mars while there so that it can sell to the highest bidder back home.  When Anna gets to Mars, she finds surprising hostility from some of the crew members.  Matters are further confused when she finds a note of warning in her room that appears to be written in her own hand!  Is she going crazy or is there something more sinister going on?

Anna is a conflicted figure who cannot decide if she wants to be on Mars or back home with her family.  She feels both fake and smothered from society’s expectations.  Her background makes her fear that she might be headed towards mental breakdown.  And she is suffering from post-natal syndrome.  Reading about her troubles as an overlay on top of the mysterious situation from Mars was hard at times.  Anna is a very sympathetic character and also a very strong one.

Mental health is a hard issue and from outside it seems a bit easy to see some of the problems on Mars.  The reader could guess at some of the problems and their corresponding solutions.  But Anna’s genuine confusion and self-doubt is real.  Did she make the right choices?  Is her life a lie?  Is she a useless mother?  Why isn’t she like everyone else?

Like the other two books, this is a very character-driven story.  As I had guessed a lot of the mystery, I found the ending to be less than exciting even though I didn’t know any of the finer details.  But the story is compelling, the characterization is fantastic, and the world-building as great as ever.

I believe there is going to be another story set in this world in 2019.  While waiting, do pick up any of the Planetfall books and treat yerself to a delightful story.

Me matey, sarah @ theillustratedpage, has an awesome interview with the author that can be found here!

Also check out another review of this novel from me crew:

Kate @ forwinternights

Goodreads has this to say about the novel:

After months of travel, Anna Kubrick finally arrives on Mars for her new job as a geologist and de facto artist-in-residence. Already she feels like she is losing the connection with her husband and baby at home on Earth–and she’ll be on Mars for over a year. Throwing herself into her work, she tries her best to fit in with the team.

But in her new room on the base, Anna finds a mysterious note written in her own handwriting, warning her not to trust the colony psychologist. A note she can’t remember writing. She unpacks her wedding ring, only to find it has been replaced by a fake.

Finding a footprint in a place the colony AI claims has never been visited by humans, Anna begins to suspect that her assignment isn’t as simple as she was led to believe. Is she caught up in an elaborate corporate conspiracy, or is she actually losing her mind? Regardless of what horrors she might discover, or what they might do to her sanity, Anna has find the truth before her own mind destroys her.

To visit the author’s website go to:

Emma Newman – Author

To buy the novel please visit:

before mars – Book

To add to Goodreads go to:

Yer Ports for Plunder List

Previous Log Entries for this Author

brother’s ruin – book 1 (On the Horizon – Fantasy eArc)

weaver’s lament – book 2 (On the Horizon – Fantasy eArc)

planetfall – book 1 (Sailing to the Stars)

after atlas – book 2 (Captain’s Log – Sci-Fi)

12 thoughts on “Captain’s Log – before mars (Emma Newman)

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