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Independent Press Award

2024 Distinguished Favorite


Jayson Adams

Commander Kate Holman is on the verge of her life’s dream as the leader of the first manned mission to Mars. Minutes before setting foot on the red planet, her world comes crashing down when she’s abruptly relieved of command. Replaced by the mission’s security officer, she learns that a secret military objective is the true reason for their journey.

What military purpose could Mars possibly hold? The question takes Kate to the fabled “Face on Mars” and a mysterious discovery excavated from deep within. Is it an exotic, new element? Evidence of life? An alien artifact? Scurried away by the security officer, she can only speculate.

An astronaut dies. Systems malfunction. Some claim it’s the result of a rumored Martian “curse” that won’t lift until the unearthed item is returned. Kate seeks a more rational explanation for the problems befalling the mission, but suffers under debilitating headaches and the fear of their possible connection to her past.

When Kate uncovers the nature of the item, a secret some would kill to protect, can she overcome the powerful forces allied against her and make it back to Earth?

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