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Sioux Falls Scientists endorse Not in Solitude for being a step above
the other science fiction authors of the time with a more realistic
possible first Mars mission given what was known at the time.

Not in Solitude
By Kenneth F. Gantz

Not in Solitude (1959) - 200 pages
Not in Solitude at Amazon.com

Kenneth Gantz’s “Not in Solitude” is about an expedition that’s marooned on Mars. Young Dr. John Dane—a newspaperman and a physicist—was sure he would find plenty to report on the first trip to Mars with Colonel Cragg. But, in spite of Cragg's obvious contempt for Dane, the trip proved disappointingly dull until some of the scientists suddenly and mysteriously disappeared. From then on events rocketed to an explosive climax as it became increasingly clear that a hostile intelligence on Mars was trying to prevent the spacecraft's return to Earth.

This is a fairly well written, suspenseful account of first contact with alien intelligence in the form of lichens on the surface of Mars. To put it in a nutshell, the lichens form a single hive-mind that is disturbed by the presence of aliens (man) on Martian soil. The story involves the struggle of the crew of the spacecraft to understand the lichen intelligence and to free the ship from an electromagnetic force preventing the ship from taking off. There is also a background story of an old fashioned murder mystery on board the ship.

Some of the science regarding space travel, and knowledge of Mars itself, is dated and somewhat fanciful. That, however, is insignificant beside the story itself. An overlooked classic.

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Not in Solitude
By Kenneth F. Gantz

Sioux Falls Scientists endorse Not in Solitude for being a step above
the other science fiction authors of the time with a more realistic
possible first Mars mission given what was known at the time.