Rebels of the Red Planet by Charles L. Fontenay

Librivox Audiobook
Gutenberg etext

Mars. Barsoom. Desert Planet.

After decades of human settlement, Mars remains an inhospitable place where people are confined to pressurized environments. All trade must go through the Mars Corporation, which is more interested in maximizing profits than making life comfortable for the colonists. Terraforming and adapting crops to Mars are given low priority.

Years ago, a secret organization, the Order of the Phoenix, tried to break the Mars Corp. monopoly. Their leader, Albus Dumble -- sorry, wrong Order of the Phoenix. The Order divided into two groups, both devoted to making humans more like the native Martians. One group, headed by G.O.T. "Goat" Hennessey, wanted to gengineer humans to survive in the low-pressure atmosphere; the other, run by Dark Kensington, sought to unlock powers in the human mind that would allow people to teleport goods directly from Earth. But then Goat betrayed the Phoenix. The government crushed the group and Dark Kensington disappeared, presumed dead.

Now the Order has reformed, operating out of a barber college of all places. And then one day, Dark reappears, apparently unaged and with no memory of the last twenty-five years. At the same time, S. Newell Eli, an agent of the Martian government, with the help of a Terran agent, Maya Cara Nome, are investigating the resurgent Phoenix.

Rebels of the Red Planet is Golden Age pulp at it's finest -- there's nothing too deep here, but it's hard not to get drawn into the rollicking adventure of it all. The characters are standard-issue, but well developed, especially Maya Cara Nome as the plucky secret agent and Newell, who could almost be Thomas Nau's brother.

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