An article released in Scientific Reports, written by a French computer scientist, has determined that 110 people would be required to make a sustainable colony on Mars.
His model depends on cooperation, and he arrived at that number with the expectation that this would be the minimum amount needed to create public works effectively. If there aren’t enough people, whoever lives in the colony would need to take care of their own survival needs instead of working on projects that benefit the group.
It’s interesting because this number is close to Dunbar’s number, 150. This number is the proposed amount of stable social relationships a person can maintain, based on human brain size. This number is often estimated to be anywhere from 100-250, meaning the colony’s calculated size falls right inside the lower end.
All this to say, the story that would effectively be the story of a small town. A martian town. There would be plenty of lands available for development since there would only be 110 people on the entire planet.
Since Andy Weir’s The Martian has taken the hard sci-fi version of a Mars colony, this story could draw inspiration from another book, Martian Time-Slip by Philip K. Dick. This version of a martian colony imagines the households run by people who have nothing better to do than talk behind each other’s back. His settlement could be any small town, U.S.A.
The plot could follow the creation of a large water reservoir. As the lake is built, the main character imagines seeing alien specters, similar to a Native American curse in the United States. A woman who is in love with him watches his descent into madness and is powerless to stop him from leaving the protective bubble and ending his life.
The second book could be from the young woman’s point of view, creating another disruptive public work and experiencing the spirits. The third book could be about her daughter, a young girl who thinks communicating with the spirits is entirely normal.