The Bookshelf

The TAO of Mars
Steven Charleston
ISBN 978-0-9851419-8-1
202 pages

Available in print book and e-book:


The second book in the Martian trilogy by Steven Charleston, THE TAO OF MARS continues the story of the human beings who are transforming Mars, not only physically, but spiritually. Dr. Wu, a Chinese sage, is forced to cope with an invasion from Earth as jealous empires struggle over alien artifacts discovered beneath the deserts of Mars. As mysterious acts of terrorism threaten to destroy Martian society, Dr. Wu is asked to take part in a desperate gamble to save a friend while fighting new revelations that could end his own life.

THE TAO OF MARS is a novel of mysticism, transformation and the human soul. It is a story of how everyday people can do extraordinary things when touched by the strange and magical power of the Tao, the hidden force that connects us to all of life, even to life on distant worlds.

If you have a friend or loved one who would never buy a book on theology and who thinks they are “spiritual but not religious”, then Steven’s novels are the perfect gift. Tucked away between the pages of these fast paced adventures are themes of hope, faith, and diversity. The people of Mars come from many different backgrounds and traditions, but they live with courage and compassion as members of one community. They may be fictional characters, but their story is a healing vision for our own time.


Excerpt from THE TAO of MArs:
I soon realized that my concern for Bishop Tony was well founded. He seemed dazed to the point of incoherence. I suggested we return home and he quietly walked with me the several blocks to his house. To be honest, he seemed so exhausted I was glad he could make it that far. I helped him inside where he fell onto the sagging comfort of the old sofa in his living room.
On the wall above the sofa were two paintings presented to him by the local Common Prayer Church, paintings done by a certain Mrs. Quigly, paintings ostensibly of the Virgin Mary and Jesus, but paintings which most of his friends, myself included, considered to be an inadvertent portrait of Rasputin and a subconscious copy of Edvard Munch’s ancient work, The Scream. While they make most of us shudder, the kind hearted bishop keeps them on his wall since they were a gift from his local community.
“I heard from Clare,” he said in a tired voice. “I think you know about it.”
“Yes,” I said as I sat in a chair across from him, “I do know.”
“I wanted to go back to WestHem right away, but Digby says I am needed here because of the crisis.” The bishop looked at me with red-rimmed eyes set in deep brown circles. He must have been awake since receiving the news.
“I believe he is right,” I said, “The situation is grim and not likely to improve until they solve the mystery of the explosion.”
“Maria told me that out in St. Vlad they think it was done by more than one person. They think it is a conspiracy.”
“All the more reason for you to be close to your people,” I replied, “because if it is a conspiracy there may be even more trouble.”
“I know…I know,” he said vaguely, “It’s just so hard. Clare is…well, Clare is not like anyone else…she is the one who found me…back in West Hem…when I was dying…”
The bishop seemed to be sinking ever deeper into his sofa, free falling into old memories and deep emotions. I rose and went over to him.
“I understand. She is a truly unique person. But right now you need to get some rest. It is a very difficult time. In so many ways. Come, put your feet up and just rest a little.”
I maneuvered him into lying down on the sofa, a small pillow under his head.
“She saved me…did you know that?”
“Yes, I did.”
“Without her, I wouldn’t be here…I wouldn’t be anywhere. I would have died out there in the desert…or in West Hem…I would have died there too…”
“Just rest for a while.”
“And now she is…going away and I can’t go with her…I can’t go to West Hem…I can’t go to New Medina…I can’t go anywhere…”
“We will talk later. For now, try to rest.”
The bishop looked up at me through the sunken red rings of his eyes.
“She saved me, you know…she saved me…”
And then he was asleep. I remember wondering who he meant, Alima or Clare, because they had each, in their own way, saved him. I found a blanket on his bed and covered him. I sat for a while in the chair opposite him as he slept, in the event he might wake and look for me.
No pain is as sharp as the pain of watching a loved one suffer without the means to help.
Bishop Tony knew that pain. Sitting across from him, I knew it too. The ties that bind us hold us in the tension between joy and sorrow. We bring one another to places of great happiness, but we also pull each other into shadowy places of despair.
“The Tao is truly light and dark, yin and yang, the eternal dance of light and shadow,” I whispered to myself.


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