A few weeks ago, I selected Joe Haldeman's Marsbound as my story of the week. At the time I mentioned how I was going out on a limb picking a serialized novel without reading the third and final part. Hence my parting comment: "If Haldeman finishes the story as well as he began it, Marsbound will no doubt be one of my favorite novels of the year."
Well, the April issue of Analog contains the novel's finale. And the final verdict: Marsbound is my favorite hard science fiction novel of recent years. Without giving too much away, Haldeman's story of Carmen Dula, one of the first teenage colonists on Mars, contains a perfect mix of character development, intrigue, suspense, sensawunda, and glimpses into the massive scale of our universe--in short, all the things I expect from a great science fiction novel. My only complaint--a minor one--is that the story wraps up too quickly after the explosive conclusion. I had become so connected with Carmen's character that I wanted more of a denouement to wind me out of her fascinating life.
Still, that complaint is not significant. If you can't track down the last three issues of Analog, Haldeman's novel is set for an August release in hardcover.