Stowaway to Mars by John Wyndham
A space opera set on Mars by one of the twentieth century's most brilliant--and neglected--science fiction and horror writers, whom Stephen King called "the best writer of science fiction that England has ever produced."
What if alien life-forms included autonomous, conscious machines?
An international prize is offered to the first man to complete an interplanetary journey. For British pilot Dale Curtance, it is the ultimate challenge; he must build a ship, assemble a top-notch crew, and beat the Russians and the Americans, too. Soon the Gloria Mundi heads for Mars. There's only one problem: a stowaway named Joan Shirning.
At first, the men resent Joan's presence. But they come to realize that she is the only one who has firsthand knowledge of the Martians--or at least the intelligent beings that will one day replace them. . . .