Peter Cawdron: “Retrograde” (c) 2016

Peter Cawdron: “Retrograde” (c) 2016

Set on Mars, Peter Cawdron’s sci fi novel “Retrograde” is a gripping story about survival, sacrifice, compassion and friendship; and a fascinating and thought-provoking story about what defines life and consciousness.

The story is narrated by Liz, a micropaleobiologist.

The Mars Endeavour international colony is thrown into a deep crisis, struggling with grief, fear and distrust when nuclear war breaks out on Earth.

The 120 scientists, engineers and doctors are from the US, China, Russia, UK, Israel, and India. The colony’s modules are built deep into the bedrock of Mars, in the vast labyrinth of caves, caverns and lava tubes. In many ways the colony has become self-sufficient and supplies from Earth are sent on a regular basis.

When war breaks out on Earth, the colonists from the different countries lock themselves into their separate modules. Liz, a member of the US team, is convinced that for the colony to survive, they must think as Martians, to somehow rebuild a spirit of co-operation and to continue their scientific research and exploration of Mars.

However, very soon, a tense and undeniable feeling grows that Earth’s war has arrived on Mars. As Liz talks to the Chinese and Russian colonists, questions arise about the supply spacecraft from Earth. Has it landed on Mars or not? Liz sets off to the landing site of the supply spacecraft. Her Mars rover malfunctions, and she is nearly killed. The crisis at the colony deepens when environmental controls fail in the medical hub and in one of the modules, killing several colonists. With a shock, they realize that someone has tampered with the computer data feed, the rover and the environmental controls.

Someone is playing off the colonists against each other. But the colonists decide to work together, to find their elusive, unknown and very dangerous enemy.