Pure Red Sand by Meghan Negrijn
Reviewed by Benoit Chartier
Nadine is a medic at the hospital in Statlear, a colony on Mars, which serves to patch up the miners who come in from Michstad, the local operation. She and her friend Anna have been sewing patients up for three years; ever since they came back from their training on Earth. When the hospital administration pulls her in to quiz her about her loyalties, she thinks nothing of it.
A few days later, however, Louise, one of her supervisors, comes to her and tells her to set up an emergency clinic, and forces the two women out of the hospital. It soon becomes apparent why: the Earth forces that have watched over the colony are pulling out, leaving all those not loyal to Earth to fend for themselves.
Nadine and Anna take back possession of Nadine's childhood home, and make it a base of operations. Along the way, Nadine picks up Karl, a computer programmer and hacker, as well as Sven, the son of the mine's owners, accidentally left behind during the evacuation.
Through force of sheer will and tenacity, Nadine and her friends try to survive on Mars' inhospitable surface while supplies and hope are running out for the rest of the population.
I found Pure Red Sand a joy of realism. It could almost have read like someone's diary of their hardships, along with their joys, triumphs, sadness and pains. I found the characters each had something to contribute to the group, as well as all their foibles, but ultimately it was their humanity that made them so appealing. Negrijn paints a portrait of the overcoming of difficulties over a semi-tamed wilderness like Mars in harsh, exacting details, which one would swear were truth. I'm looking forward to the next volume in the series.
Pure Red Sand: An Expensive Retreat is Published by A Good Idea Publications.