The Lewis Legacy-Issue 86, Autumn 2000
Book Review of Assault on Mars
The C.S. Lewis Foundation for Truth in Publishing
September 1, 2000
Assault on Mars, by Michael D. Cooper
(a pseudonym for Jonathan Cooper, Mike Dodd, and David Baumann)
Privately printed, Spring 2000. Hardcover.
This book is a great example of how modern technology enables creative
people to design, publish, and share their books today on their own.
Lewis Legacy reader David Baumann is an Episcopal priest in Placentia,
California; he is a Lewis enthusiast, a Karate enthusiast, and a boys'
series books enthusiast. Over forty years ago, when he was a child,
Baumann's first gift choice year after year was another of the 38 original
Hardy Boys mysteries ($1.00 hardcovers). As an adult, he was sorry he had
given the set away, and rebuilt it from strays in used-book stores. He was
interested in all the old boys' series books, even the little-known Digby Allen series, which was launched by Golden Press in 1959 with Joseph Green's The Forgotten Star.
In Virginia Jonathan Cooper, who was born almost 20 years after publication
of The Forgotten Star, developed a Tom Swift web site with a section about the Digby Allen books. That is where David Baumann became acquainted with Cooper and Mike Dodd, another enthusiast. With the approval of the son of Dig Allen's originator, the three decided to produce a series of brand-new old-fashioned Dig Allen books; Cooper would lay out the plots of the entire series and manage the web site; Dodd would serve as science advisor; and Baumann would do the actual writing. All three (none had met before publication of Assault on Mars) contributed ideas and made all decisions together.
These three were assisted by Bill Baumann, a retired aeronautics engineer.
He produced the cover painting (also available as a poster) and internal
illustrations for Assault On Mars and designed the Starmen's spacecraft. The Arizona printer and binder of Assault on Mars is dedicated to printing as done before the advent of modern technology, when printing was still an art. Every one of the books has been bound by hand, without the use of any electronic machinery whatever.
The entire project is an amazing mix of the past, present, and future. To
learn about the series, one goes to this wonderful Internet site:
http://xbarxboys.homepage.com/intro.html. To order a book, one must send an
e-mail to Jon Cooper at email@example.com. The price is $16.50 plus
One of the book's first readers responded: "The first book in the Starman
series, Assault on Mars, is a wonderfully old-fashioned futuristic story. The book tells the story of an invasion of Mars by pirates and the efforts of three Starmen to help repel the invasion. The three Starmen are David "Zip" Foster, Joe Taylor and Mark Seaton. There are a crash landing, hidden tunnels, robots, laser weapons and of course secret weapons, all things that make for a great adventure. I can't wait for the next book in the series." He won't have to wait long; The Runaway Asteroid is almost ready, and the plots of 22 other books are already planned.
In the course of their adventures set in the 22nd century, the Starmen
gradually learn the amazing history of the Solar System. They discern that
this history is far different from what Earth had long believed. Finally
they discover the opportunity and responsibility of the people of Earth to
defend and preserve their home-now understood not to be a country or even a
planet, but the entire system of worlds circling our star.
"We are well aware that the golden age of series books ended in the late
1960s. Nevertheless, perhaps against the odds, we want to create a series
of stories reminiscent of that age. In the Starman series, there will be no
foul language and no extreme violence. We intend to produce a series of
stories which encourage the human mind and spirit; extol the virtues of
courage, honesty, and good-heartedness; and whose characters follow a
philosophy that life is good, the creation is exciting as well as
beautiful, hope is reasonable and worthwhile, and the spirit of adventure
is worth pursuing."