The Book: Outpost Mars by Cyril Judd (pseudonym of C.M Kornbluth and Judith Merril). Originally published as a 3-part series in Galaxy Science Fiction in 1951, the edition read was published by Dell in 1952.
The Setting: The future. Mars, obviously.
The Story: A colony of idealists are accused of stealing drugs from a drugs processing plant. Also, psychic, murderous Martian dwarves.
The Science: Okay. So. Sometimes babies die, right? Sometimes it’s genetic. Well, this book says that some people have a lethal gene, and that when two people who carry a lethal gene love each other very much and make a baby, that baby dies. On earth. On Mars it lives, eats a drug, and is psychic. The doctor in the book theorizes that cosmic rays, maybe, or gravity, contribute to the ability of the mutant baby to survive. But, frankly, it all sounds like a load of bull hockey so that there’s some cheap explanation in the closing pages of the books.
The Reaction: Oh boy. This book. It’s something. I think there’s probably too much going on here. Too much us vs. them, too much random weirdness (oh, you’re also psychic? That’s handy for the plot!). I don’t have any good reason why you should read this book.
The Cover: Cover art by Richard Powers. And certainly a redeeming aspect of the book. Sure, I’m not sure it makes any sense in terms of the story, but check out that landscape, and that spacesuit. Far out.
Next Up: “The Screaming Woman” by Ray Bradbury.