Thursday, February 05, 2004

Book Review: Oxygen

Oxygen, by Randall Ingermanson and John B. Olson. This novel, published in 2001, is frighteningly prophetic in its portrayal of a doomed space mission, a trip to Mars in 2014. An accident occurs at takeoff, part of the tailpiece coming loose and grazing the body of the rocket. They appear doomed, and Houston knows it, and NASA agonizes over telling the crew of the ship. My own theory about the recent shuttle explosion is similar. I believe that NASA knew the Columbia was in trouble, but did not tell us nor the astronauts on the simple basis that there was nothing that we could do about it. In the novel, NASA reaches this same conclusion, although the crew figures it out on their own, as well. There is a terrific scene towards the end, where the Christian on the crew sacrifices her life for the sake of others, by giving them the oxygen from her tank in order to salvage the trip for two of the crew members, enabling them to return home.Unfortunately, the novel does not end there. Christian publishing houses can never seem to end on "downers," even when the "downer" is a heroic act of Christ-like self-sacrificing. No, that is not a good enough ending. There are about 30 more pages that do 3 very distasteful things: 1) they negate the sacrifice of the crew member, by restoring her to life -- she really wasn't dead, it turned out, just in a coma; 2) includes a marriage proposal live on TV from Mars; and 3) leaves the crew on the Red Planet, all set up for a sequel.And I had such hope for this book as it went along.

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