cover image Voyage to the Red Planet

Voyage to the Red Planet

Terry Bisson. William Morrow & Company, $16.95 (236pp) ISBN 978-0-688-09495-9

Space travel is viewed with a witty, original eye in Bisson's entertaining novel. The U.S. has survived the Greater Depression by selling off assets to settle its debts. Disney has bought NASA, and now wants to film a movie on location on Mars. The mothballed, never-used, joint U.S.-U.S.S.R. spaceship, the Mary Poppins , is restored to active status, and takes off. On board, in addition to the movie crew, is a stowaway teenage girl, who, when the leading lady does not awaken from suspended animation, gets her big chance to become a movie queen--maybe. Back on Earth, business mergers are threatening not only her chances, but also that of the entire voyage, as Mission Control goes bankrupt and can no longer provide the sophisticated course correction the Mary Poppins requires. The writing is enjoyably silly: Bisson ( Fire on the Mountain ) describes this making of a B-movie in tongue-in-cheek prose, itself deliberately reminiscent of the hackneyed plotting of that genre. (July)