The Mars Imperative, by Mark Terence Chapman, joins the long list of speculative fiction about our planetary neighbor, Mars. C.S.Lewis, Ray Bradbury, Robert Heinlein, Kim Stanley Robinson and a dozen others have been fascinated by the Red Planet. Chapman, like Robinson, produces hard science fiction using the narrowest of definitions of SF. Nothing written conflicts with current scientific knowledge; any advanced technologies are theoretically possible.
If the attention to science is like Robinson, the society and characters are pure Heinlein: technology, character and true grit conquer all. James McKie is individualistic, well educated, clever, brave and unassuming. His initial work experience requires successfully confronting both sabotage and the harsh conditions of Mars and he does.
Unlike Heinlein, this is hard science fiction, with no McGuffins to take care of unpleasant science facts: no warp drives, worm holes, FTL, teleportation. It's good exciting stuff with likable characters and the continuing scientific and ecological realism are woven naturally into the action.
This is traditional science fiction, describing the future in terms that emphasize the possible. I enjoyed it. If you like Robinson, Heinlein and hard SF, you'll probably like The Mars Imperative.
The second book in the Imperative Chronicles series, The Tesserene Imperative, is now available from Fictionwise.com. Other venues to follow. (I'm presently working on the third book in the series.)