And Then I Read: THE RED JOURNEY BACK by John Keir Cross

Cover and interior illustrations by Robin Jacques.

Sometimes an old book is fun to read even when it’s not written all that well, and this is one of those. It’s the sequel to “The Angry Planet,” which I reread and reviewed here last week, and it was new to me.

Once again the story is told by multiple authors recounting events, at least until the last third of the book. We learn that The Albatross, the rocket designed and built by Dr. McGillivray has returned to Mars with him and his friend Stephen MacFarlane. No stowaways this time. Another scientist begins receiving messages from the pair on Mars, and they seem to be in a lot of trouble. Their final message is to send a rescue mission and to bring back “the children,” in other words, the three stowaways on the first flight, Paul, Jacqueline and Mike. A new expedition is prepared on a larger ship built in America by Dr. Kalkenbrenner, and this time more people will be going. There’s even another stowaway.

The author has made a bit more of an effort with the science of space flight this time, but it’s still wildly inaccurate. The real story begins when the new ship, The Comet, lands on the Red Planet. The new expedition finds McGillivray and MacFarlane, but they are acting strangely, and their ship is surrounded by a wall of plants that are controlled by an ancient being who means the Earthlings no good. This time the new Martians are much more dangerous than the ones in the first book, and the story of rescue and escape from them is a harrowing and thrilling one.

I have to also say that the illustrations by Robin Jacques are a major addition to these books. All his work is excellent, and here they are a great help to the storytelling.

A good read for fans of old-time space adventure books for young readers, and worth a try if you can find it.

The Red Journey Back by John Keir Cross

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