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Red Planet

Cover of Red Planet

Red Planet

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Jim Marlow and his strange-looking Martian friend Willis were allowed to travel only so far. But one day Willis unwittingly tuned into a treacherous plot that threatened all the colonists on Mars, and...More
Jim Marlow and his strange-looking Martian friend Willis were allowed to travel only so far. But one day Willis unwittingly tuned into a treacherous plot that threatened all the colonists on Mars, and...More
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  • Jim Marlow and his strange-looking Martian friend Willis were allowed to travel only so far. But one day Willis unwittingly tuned into a treacherous plot that threatened all the colonists on Mars, and it set Jim off on a terrfying adventure that could save--or destroy--them all!

    From the Paperback edition.

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    Willis The thin air of Mars was chill but not really cold. It was not yet winter in southern latitudes and the daytime temperature was usually above freezing.

    The queer creature standing outside the door of a dome-shaped building was generally manlike in appearance, but no human being ever had a head like that. A thing like a coxcomb jutted out above the skull, the eye lenses were wide and staring, and the front of the face stuck out in a snout. The unearthly appearance was increased by a pattern of black and yellow tiger stripes covering the entire head.

    The creature was armed with a pistol-type hand weapon slung at its belt and was carrying, crooked in its right arm, a ball, larger than a basketball, smaller than a medicine ball. It moved the ball to its left arm, opened the outer door of the building and stepped inside.

    Inside was a very small anteroom and an inner door. As soon as the outer door was closed the air pressure in the anteroom began to rise, accompanied by a soft sighing sound. A loudspeaker over the inner door shouted in a booming bass, "Well? Who is it? Speak up! Speak up!"

    The visitor placed the ball carefully on the floor, then with both hands grasped its ugly face and pushed and lifted it to the top of its head. Underneath was disclosed the face of an Earth-human boy. "It's Jim Marlowe, Doc," he answered.

    "Well, come in. Come in! Don't stand out there chewing your nails."

    "Coming." When the air pressure in the anteroom had equalized with the pressure in the rest of the house the inner door opened automatically. Jim said, "Come along, Willis," and went on in.

    The ball developed three spaced bumps on its lower side and followed after him, in a gait which combined spinning, walking, and rolling. More correctly, it careened, like a barrel being manhandled along a dock. They went down a passage and entered a large room that occupied half the floorspace of the circular house plan. Doctor MacRae looked up but did not get up. "Howdy, Jim. Skin yourself. Coffee on the bench. Howdy, Willis," he added and turned back to his work. He was dressing the hand of a boy about Jim's age.

    "Thanks, Doc. Oh--hello, Francis. What are you doing here?"

    "Hi, Jim. I killed a water-seeker, then I cut my thumb on one of its spines."

    "Quit squirming!" commanded the doctor.

    "That stuff stings," protested Francis.

    "I meant it to. Shut up."

    "How in the world did you do that?" persisted Jim. "You ought to know better than to touch one of those things. Just burn 'em down and burn 'em up." He zipped open the front of his outdoor costume, peeled it off his arms and legs and hung it on a rack near the door. The rack held Francis's suit, the headpiece of which was painted in bright colors like an Indian brave's war paint, and the doctor's suit, the mask of which was plain. Jim was now stylishly and appropriately dressed for indoors on Mars--bare naked save for bright red jockey shorts.

    "I did burn it," explained Francis, "but it moved when I touched it. I wanted to get the tail to make a necklace."

    "Then you didn't burn it right. Probably left it full of live eggs. Who're you making a necklace for?"

    "None of your business. And I did so burn the egg sac. What do you take me for? A tourist?"

    "Sometimes I wonder. You know those things don't die until sundown."

    "Don't talk nonsense, Jim," the doctor advised. "Now, Frank, I'm going to give you an anti-toxin shot. 'Twon't do you any good but it'll make your mother happy. Long about tomorrow your thumb will...

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Red Planet
Red Planet
Robert Heinlein
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