As Earth licks its wounds after decades of war, a new hope rises to bring humanity together, to expand their horizons, to make them dream of a better tomorrow and purchase some rather lovely furniture on the way. The first manned mission to Mars. It'll be a television extravaganza. This is exploration, 22nd Century style.
Emphasis on style.
The Starship Toby & Toby Interior Design is the most splendid vessel of discovery the world has ever known. Gold filigree sparkles in the starlight, the chandelier sways gently to and fro, the cushions... cushion.
A four-man crew is assembled: Captain Cambridge, possibly the most heroic figure in the entirety of his own mind; Professor Prestwold, a delightful chap who doesn't know a life-threatening situation when it tries to bite his head off; Mr Blunderberry, a very large and very angry man; and Dr Khatagi. Not much is known about him but he's probably an assassin or something.
The stage is set. The champagne is packed. There's going to be dining suits and everything.
Shame about the crash landing.
Stranded on Mars, it falls to Captain Cambridge to lead his crew, if not home, then at least in general.
Can Captain Cambridge get back to Earth with his crew, his sanity and his carefully trimmed moustache intact? Can he escape the clutches of the mysterious and ancient denizens of Mars? And about those aliens, are they downright evil or just not quite right in the head? Surely they're at least a few sandwiches short of a full picnic?
Then again, so's the Captain...