Life on the Kind of Red Planet
Master of Fine Arts (MFA)
Life on the Kind of Red Planet, a novel, is the story of Meredith Ballenger, one of four NASA astronauts in the early 2030’s tasked with performing the last major simulation of a Mars expedition before the real deal. They collect soil and rock samples while wearing spacesuits, live and conduct experiments in a cramped habitat, recycle their water, ration their food supply, communicate with Mission Control slowly via radio, and take every precaution to protect themselves from the outside environment—all in the Atacama Desert in Chile. The hope of being the first humans on Mars drives them, but nine months into a nearly two-year mission, the mundane realities of their everyday lives have sunk in. When they dig up a skeleton on a routine excavation, Meredith disagrees with how her fellow astronauts and superiors at Mission Control react. As they continue their work, Mission Control’s orders become increasingly bizarre, and Meredith and the other astronauts begin to question the nature of their mission and the motives of those who command them.
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Nelson, James, "Life on the Kind of Red Planet" (2015). LSU Master's Theses. 648.