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Book Review of Assault on Mars

The Lewis Legacy-Issue 86, Autumn 2000 The C.S. Lewis Foundation for Truth in Publishing

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 scooper1@wv-cis.net. The price is $16.50 plus $3.50 postage.

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.”