HIRAM -- Imagine Mars is slated for colonization. The first colonists? Five death row inmates who have no idea they've been selected as the planet's first citizens. Led to an execution chamber and given injections, the inmates black out. When they awaken, they assume they're in hell, but they're wrong, technically.

This is the premise of "The Prince of Mars," penned by James Thompson, associate professor of political science at Hiram College. While not his first book, which was "Making North America: Trade, Security, and Integration," this is Thompson's first novel.

Thompson says inspiration for his piece came from the lack of discussion about the political implications of humans colonizing Mars. While the American founding fathers noted the inevitable destructive tendencies from factional competition, even in a democracy, what would a Mars colony of five look like politically?" Thompson asks.

If it's not a democracy, he says, it's a principality. Think Niccol Machiavelli's famous and disturbing analysis from "The Prince."

"My novel is about a person who is sent up to Mars and then trained to be the 'prince' of that planet in Machiavellian style, with all the harrowing implications that entails," Thompson said.

As with his readers, Thompson also provokes his students to examine the political ramifications of planet colonization in his current 3-week course The Political Implications of Space Exploration.

Reviews of the book describe how it punctuates the impact of Machiavellianism and utilizes it to tell a story that stays with readers and provokes them think about how far one will go to survive.

The book can be purchased at The Learned Owl bookstore in Hudson.