Ahoy there me mateys! This here be a sci-fi novel that I listened to in audiobook format. The premise is that a trio of astronauts have a chance to become the first people who travel to Mars. The expedition is privately funded by a corporation called Prime Space. This corporation has strict rules and protocols for both the astronauts and their families.
For the astronauts, these protocols include a 17 month simulation of the entire Mars voyage – both there and back again. For the trio and their families, this trial will have them questioning both the mission and the emotional consequences that occur when getting back to space seems more important than those people left back on Earth.
This is one of those reads where the space story is secondary in the plot. This is a character-driven book that showcases various relationships and the emotional growth of the characters. Ye follow the three astronauts, a spouse, several children, and a member of the support team. The space items are interesting but much of the book happens outside of the astronaut habitat.
I think me favourite sections were those of the astronaut, Helen, and her daughter. I also liked Yoshi’s wife. Overall I thought this was a well written book and I listened to it in one setting. The characters were multi-faceted and I enjoyed how they changed in the novel. I don’t think this has a ton of re-read potential and a lot of the details already begin to fade. But I am glad I took the journey.
Goodreads has this to say about the novel:
In four years Prime Space will put the first humans on Mars. Helen Kane, Yoshi Tanaka, and Sergei Kuznetsov must prove they’re the crew for the job by spending seventeen months in the most realistic simulation every created.
Retired from NASA, Helen had not trained for irrelevance. It is nobody’s fault that the best of her exists in space, but her daughter can’t help placing blame. The MarsNOW mission is Helen’s last chance to return to the only place she’s ever truly felt at home. For Yoshi, it’s an opportunity to prove himself worthy of the wife he has loved absolutely, if not quite rightly. Sergei is willing to spend seventeen months in a tin can if it means travelling to Mars. He will at least be tested past the point of exhaustion, and this is the example he will set for his sons.
As the days turn into months the line between what is real and unreal becomes blurred, and the astronauts learn that the complications of inner space are no less fraught than those of outer space. The Wanderers gets at the desire behind all exploration: the longing for discovery and the great search to understand the human heart.
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