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Oxygen

Oxygen
by John B. Olson and Randall Ingermanson
Published by Bethany House Publishers, 2001
Amazon.com: paperback, large print
Amazon.ca: paperback, large print
Amazon.co.uk: paperback, large print
ChristianBook.com: paperback
Highly recommended by: Greg Slade
[Oxygen]

Book Rating
Rated 3 (Highly Recommended) by: 6 people
Rated 2 (Recommended) by: 2 people
Rated 1 (Suggested) by: nobody
Rated 0 (Reviewed) by: nobody
Total Votes: 8 people
Average Rating: 2.38 (Recommended)
Score: 1.90 (Recommended)

[Futuristic] Kennedy Hampton wants to be the first man to walk on Mars. He would rather die than lose what may be the only chance in his generation to walk on another planet. Alexis Ohta has wanted to be an astronaut since she was eight years old. She would rather die than give up her place on the first mission to land humans on Mars. Bob Kaganovski is afraid of flying, but he would rather die than admit his fears, and lose his place on the mission. Valkerie Jansen was added to the crew at the last minute, but she would rather die than lose the chance to search for life on another planet. They may all get their wish. It appears that somebody is trying to kill them, and has already come close to succeeding. Even worse, all the evidence seems to indicate that that somebody is one of them.

Normally, my reaction to a novel from a Christian publisher is somewhat ambivalent. While I would like to be enthusiastic about the work of a fellow Christian, and applaud a work which promotes Christian values, the best I can usually muster up is the assertion that a book is "almost there": a good effort, a sign of talent which only needs polishing, but in need of one more round of fact-checking and editing before being sent out into the big, bad, world.

With Ingermanson and Olson's joint work, my usual hesitations do not apply. Oxygen is a work I can whole-heartedly recommend without any reservations. There are no science flubs that I can detect. (And no, I don't have a degree in science, but when it comes to the science in my science fiction, I'm pickier than the average bear.) As seems to be de rigueur in CBA fiction, there is a love story in the plot (with some Romeo and Juliet elements), but it's not too obtrusive. All in all, Oxygen has pushed Bill Myers' Threshold off its perch at the top of my list of favourite Christian science fiction by living authors (it only seems fair to exclude C.S. Lewis from the list, to give everybody else a chance), and that's no mean feat.

This book won the 2002 Christy Award for best novel in the "Futuristic" category, and I'm not one bit surprised. It's a brilliant work, the science is sound (although the mission profile Olson and Ingermanson chose is not one I would choose myself, it is one of the variations which has been put forward, and may even be the one chosen if the Americans ever do go to Mars.) (August, 2003)

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Ingermanson took part in an online interview on the CHRISTIAN-FANDOM mailing list in December, 2003.

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