Red Gold by Ian Miller
David Gill has trouble selling food to the hungry, but when, in the early summer of 2075, he arrives in Los Angeles to seal a deal with Robbie Newall, he realizes his troubles are getting very much worse, very quickly. His business associates, Moonbeam Enterprises, have registered him for the first settlement of Mars, largely to get themselves out of difficulties with a giant corporation, who will finance him. He is shot at more than once, but perhaps his biggest problem involves a mercurial Jacqui Tennant, a Space Corps pilot, who desperately wants to keep the large corporations off Mars. When on Mars, David’s troubled marriage disintegrates when his wife takes up with Robbie, encounters with Jacqui become increasingly unpredictable, then David becomes aware that Robbie’s objective is to create a Mars bubble through stock floats of little value on Earth. Then, when David makes a totally unexpected discovery that guarantees the settlement will be successful, he also learns that Moonbeam is floating his discovery. David must stop this fraud, but there is a problem: Newall has smuggled the only guns on Mars and men to use them.
An action story that, apart from the discovery, is scientifically accurate about Mars. It also uses the author’s experience at starting small business, while the author’s examination of many antics exposed by the 1980s economic meltdown illustrates the anatomy of a particular type of fraud, and shows some of the signs of what to look for. An appendix outlines an alternative theory of planetary formation that explains the discovery in simple language for those interested.
about the author
Ian Miller is a semi-retired scientist who is married and lives in Lower Hutt, New Zealand. He took first class honours in chemistry, followed by a PhD from the University of Canterbury, and despite most of his working life being in the private sector his subsequent scientific work has led to about 100 peer-reviewed scientific papers, mainly on the structures of seaweed polysaccharides, energy from wastes and biomass, photochemistry, and theoretical science. He has also written about 35 other general scientific articles, and was on the Editorial Board of Botanica Marina between about 1998-2008. He has owned Carina Chemical Laboratories Ltd, a New Zealand private research company since 1986, and during this period he has embarked on setting up or helping new businesses based on chemistry, including the manufacture and uses of pyromellitates (a cursed venture) seaweed processing, the development of Nemidon gels (www.nemidon.co.nz) and fuels through hydrothermal processing.
As result of a student bet, he completed one work of fiction, which quite rightly at first did not succeed, and when subsequently revised was unlucky, but now in later life he has returned to writing fiction. In semi-retirement he is now self-publishing ebooks, including scientific ones to present theoretical work that is otherwise not published, or futuristic science fiction.
Red Gold is an epic novel about a future expedition to Mars that aims to colonize that planet and harvest minerals and resources that can be used to generate profit for some unscrupulous characters back on earth. Miller is good at describing a dystopian existence on earth, so much so, that it almost deters from the main storyline but not quite. He manages to convey all the greed, backstabbing, political intrigue and other shortcomings of human nature and project them adequately into a new realm of futuristic possibilities. In other words, to use a cliche, “Wherever you go; there you are.” Humans being what they are, will always aim to exploit natural resources and/or one another even if they successfully make it to another planet. In this regard, Miller is a keen observer of human nature and his scientific mix of elements adds a fantastic element to an age old story of ‘do unto others before they do unto you.’
My only criticism of this book is that it is too long, Many passages could be condensed or just eliminated without causing great damage to the plot. It would also make for a more fast moving story in a marketplace that has, unfortunately, developed a limited attention span. However, if you enjoy the musings of a true scientific mind that is not afraid to color outside the lines, by all means purchase a copy of Red Gold or any other one of Dr. Miller’s novels.