A CHURCH of Scotland minister who is sent to act as a chaplain on the first settlement on Mars is the plot of a new novel by a retired engineering professor, his first attempt at fiction.

And Dirleton resident Keith Cornwell’s novel Our Man On Mars, published by Austin Macauley Publishers, features Dirleton Kirk on the front cover and some North Berwick connections inside.

The book took about three years to complete, most of it during lockdown.

Set 15 years in the future, it tells the story of chaplain Steve McKay, one of the Church of Scotland’s more wayward recruits, who soon finds himself sent to a parish more remote and barren than he ever imagined, on Mars.

However, he discovers that the remoteness creates a heightened awareness of the meaning of life and reveals some Earth-shattering revelations.

The religious connections stem from Keith’s previous role as session clerk at Gullane Parish Church.

The retired Heriot-Watt University professor of engineering, who also studied engineering and philosophy in London, described the book as “not your normal sci-fi” and the main character Steve as “not your usual chaplain”.

Keith, who previously ran a university campus in Dubai and is a member of the Tyne and Esk writing group, has published a number of research papers but is excited about his first dip into the world of fiction.

He is considering writing another novel but no plans have been made and he has, as yet, no idea what the book would be about.

The book is available in Kesley’s in Haddington, Waterstones, Blackwells and Amazon.