Overview (Masterplots II: Christian Literature)
In Oxygen, biochemist John B. Olson and physicist Randall Scott Ingermanson produce a work of science fiction that poses an intriguing question. If a catastrophe should strike midway between Earth and Mars, what should an astronaut trust: God or technology? The protagonist, Valkerie Jansen—astronaut, scientist, doctor, and Christian—responds in a way that honors both her faith-based heritage and her empirical training.
In this account of a mission gone awry, events begin on Tuesday, August 14, 2012, in Alaska and end on Friday, July 4, 2014, on Mars. During the short two-year span, Jansen is selected to the astronaut corps, trains for a flight, and begins the mission to Mars. The pressure of time is a significant catalyst: NASA must launch Ares 10 as scheduled or the program will be scrapped; Jansen has months, not years, to complete her training; and, following a series of mishaps, the astronauts have limited time to find a solution to their depleting oxygen supply. Furthermore, if NASA is to profit from televised coverage and gain public support for future flights, it must meet expectations for a Fourth of July landing. This haste is conveyed effectively in the novel’s format. Comprising four long sections that house forty short chapters, the novel is fast-paced.
Part 1, “Human Factors,” opens with Jansen camped in Alaska, collecting biological samples from an active volcano as part of her postdoctoral work. Poisonous...
(The entire section is 944 words.)
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