David Gittlin

The year is 2038. Earth’s biosphere is on the brink of destruction from the effects of global warming and pollution. The World Energy Council has awarded a lucrative contract to a major US corporation to mine a precious ore discovered by the first manned mission to land on Mars. One kilo of Micromium can power a large city for a year without environmental side effects. A few grains of the ore can fuel a car for a year or longer. Micromium promises to provide clean energy to a thirsty planet far into the future.

When two people die in a mining accident on Mars, the World Energy Council sends Commander Logan Marchant and a crack team of astronaut specialists to investigate.

Confronted with a lack of cooperation from the mining colonists, the investigation is further complicated by Logan’s growing attraction to the team’s beautiful and brainy geologist. While tensions and tempers rise, Logan and the audit team make one shocking discovery after another, until the investigation leads them into mortal danger, and ultimately, to a surprising conclusion.

Author Bio

  • Critic Score:63/100

    Our Review Ranking:

    A Decent Read

 

Our Review

Cover:

When looking at Micromium Clean Energy From Mars’ book cover, the reader understands three things:

  1. This book is science fiction
  2. It’s about the environment
  3. It’s probably going to focus on the struggle to mine the Micromium and the bureaucratic nonsense surrounding it

The reader comes to these conclusions by the use of varying shades of yellows, oranges and browns, none of which present an exciting feel to the cover. The obvious mining structure indicates the crew is all work, no play with the potential of an entire planet depending on the mission’s success.

There is no hint of alien lifeforms, there are no characters clearly standing in the foreground, and even the title appears in the center, along the ridge of what looks to be a crater, while the barren landscape remains unblemished. This use of space tells the reader to prepare for a realistic portrayal of what the research team must face to produce the results the world depends on.  

Overall, this cover says, “Take me seriously. I have a message to share.”

Book Blurb:

The blurb indicates there’s a serious energy and environmental situation on Earth, with all of humanity’s hopes resting on the wonder ore Micromium. While the bleak picture of Earth’s status is enough to fuel a reader’s interests, the explanation of how Micomium can be used is jarring.

One kilo can power a large city for a year while a few grains can only fuel a car for a “year or longer?” This doesn’t sound right. One might assume it would be at least enough to power a car for the next 5-10 years while running at maximum capacity. It may be an imaginary situation but it could use a little more realism.

When the investigation team sent by NASA isn’t receiving the cooperation they should from the miners, the integrity of the plot begins to come into question. The mining team is being watched by the entire world and they’re suddenly not cooperative with the “crack team of astronaut specialists” who are likely only there for the sake of appearances. Why? To a corporation, and really to the entire planet, the Micromium is more important than a few dead miners. Is there a good reason for the friction or is it just a played out theme?

The author may be trying too hard to make an environmental stand while remaining firmly planted in dusty plot points, but the blurb is just intriguing enough to warrant a read.

Formatting :

The colors, font, and style at the beginning of each chapter allow the times and dates to jump off the page so the reader can really take note. It makes for easy reference points when comparing information and is also aesthetically pleasing.

The red and brown-orange color scheme reflects the desert landscape and serves as a reminder that the main story takes place on Mars, also known as “the red planet,” while the font emits a business-like aura, mirroring the feel of life in space.

What throws the reader off are the unexpected proportions of the people in the illustrations. Kate Blackstone’s character has the typical slim figure found in any leading lady but her bust is like something out of a Japanese cartoon, while Logan Marchant’s strong physique is punctuated by a uniform created to reveal his impressive member. Not only are these details unnecessary, but they make the reader feel less immersed in the story. If the characters aren’t at least somewhat realistically portrayed, how can the reader take the novella seriously?

Grammar & Spelling:

There were very few grammar and spelling errors, in fact there were only two spelling mistakes and three or four sentences that weren’t properly constructed. Micromium has definitely been read through a few times, but one more edit would help it clean up nicely.

Character Development:

The characters and their lack of development is perhaps Micromium’s greatest weakness. In fact, Kaneko’s character somehow devolved between the earlier chapters and her later dialogue, which went from perfect English to choppy, stereotypical English. She had potential to be a main character but was oddly left out of most scenes and nearly forgotten during one of the more dangerous situations.  

As a leader, Logan should have been more responsible and should have thought things out a bit better. There were several mentions of how the team was comprised following several psychological evaluations and numerous tests administered by WEC and NASA, yet he struggled with his past and often had rampant thoughts that clouded his judgement. He doesn’t need to be the perfect person but he doesn’t have to fall prey to such generic weaknesses either.

Kate’s character doesn’t stay consistent and there are times when she acts in ways only old movies might portray. She’s a grown woman who understands the importance of safety while in dangerous areas, so why was she childishly jumping all over the place, right next to a deep pit that could potentially end in a fatal fall? Why was she so quick to make the first move with Logan? When she had concerns about possibly being watched, why didn’t she report it? When she was injured, why was she so concerned with fulfilling her duties but didn’t realize the simple solution until much later?

As for Rashawn, his character almost didn’t need to exist. There were introspective moments when he stopped to live in his own little world, but ultimately his presence felt like that of the “token black guy” in a predominantly Caucasian story. He didn’t spur the plot and didn’t have any major roles. His role could have been absorbed by almost any other character and the story would not have suffered for it.

Silenna’s character was just as inconsistent as any other – first she seems to be in control of her emotions and sets clear boundaries that she follows to a “t,” then she starts to make questionable decisions and ultimately goes above and beyond for no reason to help the main characters get out of a bind. From the start she explained she held no obligations to help or hurt anyone but by the end of the story, she’s suddenly putting herself at risk for the sake of humans she doesn’t necessarily need to care about at all. Why the sudden shift? She also responds with complete opposite reactions when two characters die. Why does she seem to care so much for one and not at all for the other?

Unfortunately for Micromium, there were just too many issues with the questionable characters to make for a good read.

Plot & Structure:

When considering a plot, many elements are taken into consideration and the structure is key to pulling a reader in with as few hiccups as possible, but there are moments when Micromium strays into awkward and unnecessary waters.

The first three chapters convey the same important information from different points of view, leaving the reader exasperated from the start. Thankfully, as the story progresses, so do its merits – until things start to feel a bit generic.

Of course the leading male character is attracted to his super hot coworker, who just so happens to look like a busty supermodel. Of course they’re going to be attracted to each other and eventually break the physical barrier. What brings this down is how disappointingly brief their encounter is. Why build up the tension then fall flat on the execution?

Another issue that surfaced was the description of Galatar, who was initially described as having blue hair but was later described as a blonde. Small inconsistences break the spell for any reader, leaving us wondering what happened.

Sudden jumps between chapters also made for an uncomfortable read. There are moments when the reader fully understands what’s happening then suddenly there’s a small time jump and it takes a few sentences to understand what just happened. These faulty transitions take away from the experience.

The great thing about any fictional story is its potential to be astounding. Unfortunately, Micromium felt like it took several generic plot points and mashed them together to create what feels like a rushed, repetitive, and ultimately basic story that doesn’t truly live up to the hype described in its blurb.

Pacing:

As previously stated, the first few chapters offered the same information from three different points of view, which felt extremely slow. It sped up slightly when the audit team began their work and a few mysteries presented themselves, then the pacing slowed again, never quite reaching a climax.

Use of Language:

The dialogue in Micromium wasn’t always appropriate, particularly the inner dialogue that might have been present to help shape a character’s personality but ultimately felt unnecessary and redundant.

There were also incidents where the use of the same word could be found numerous times within the same paragraph, breaking the flow of the sentences. No reader appreciates the word “crater” mentioned three times in as many lines.

Another major issue was the over-explanation of obvious things. One character explains the Siloe Patera crater is often referred to as “Siloe” among his friends; this is entirely unnecessary, as are other instances in which the reader feels their intelligence has been called into question.

Originality:

What began as an original storyline quickly devolved into a generic one involving a random romantic relationship, corporate greed, the usual lack of cooperation between a company and its auditors, etc. etc.

What makes Micromium original is centered around the ore itself. The later chapters became more enticing and original but the conclusion was a blur of predictability.

Overall Readability:

Micromium is a great read for those with a guilty pleasure rooted in generic storylines - for those who can overlook small plot holes and unoriginal characters without batting an eye. It isn’t the sort of book that leaves a reader coming back for more, rather it serves as an adequate story to help pass time while waiting at a doctor’s office.

A second read isn’t necessary, nor is it sought by its audience with the exception, perhaps, of teenagers who are still learning about the genre.

A Note From the Critic:

While the review may be harsh, Micromium does feature a few good twists near the end. Discovering these original ideas and experiencing the ups and downs of a Martian station definitely made for a decent read.

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