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How to Live on Mars: A Trusty Guidebook to Surviving and Thriving on the Red Planet Paperback – December 2, 2008

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How to Live on Mars: A Trusty Guidebook to Surviving and Thriving on the Red Planet + The Case for Mars: The Plan to Settle the Red Planet and Why We Must + Entering Space: Creating a Spacefaring Civilization
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Three Rivers Press (December 2, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0307407187
  • ISBN-13: 978-0307407184
  • Product Dimensions: 7.8 x 5.1 x 0.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.5 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (44 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #274,422 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Adult/High School—This guidebook for would-be Mars settlers is equal parts "Mars-humor" and science fiction (the narrator was born on Mars in 2071); a satire highly critical of NASA; and a Loompanics-flavored manifesto of rugged individualism. Fans of vintage Robert A. Heinlein, particularly The Rolling Stones (Del Rey, 1977), will feel right at home here as they enjoy descriptions of practical situations that might actually be encountered: air circulation technologies; choice of "habs"; pitfalls and scams that greenhorns should avoid. Enlivened by witty illustrations, the prose is both humorous and fact filled, with more technical and scientific information set aside in sections marked "Warning: High Science Content." Zubrin's presentation is clear and interesting but some might object that he puts no curbs on content like chemical recipes for explosives, and his Mars-based narrator's views are simplistic on complex Earth-based issues like global warming, bioengineering, and the value of government as a social contract. These topics could spark interesting classroom discussions. Valuable for teachers, this book is enjoyable and attractive for teens and will fascinate, provoke, and delight anyone interested in Mars and space settlement.—Christine C. Menefee, formerly at Fairfax County Public Library, VA
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

In The Case For Mars (1997), Zubrin outlined a plan for visiting the red planet on a budget, offering plausible scientific scenarios for its colonization and eventual terraforming. Here he makes his case more whimsically by presenting in the form of a guidebook for the twenty-second-century pioneer on the way to already well-established, prefab Martian settlements. In practical, bite-sized chapters, he doles out advice on choosing a spacesuit (the elastic kind accentuates your buff physique, if you have one), describes Martian jobs that pay well (and don’t kill you), and even provides tips on delivering effective pickup lines (hint: what works in Earth’s saloons won’t work at film festivals in New Plymouth, Mars). Skillfully rendered illustrations of Martian colony life spice up instructions on how to invest your savings, avoid bureaucratic persecution, and achieve fame by making groundbreaking discoveries. Despite its deliberately droll tone, Zubrin’s primer grounds each chapter in legitimate science (with some leeway for delightfully extravagant speculation) and makes this futuristic peek at the Martian frontier an enjoyable learning experience. --Carl Hays

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Customer Reviews

This book was a delightfully enjoyable read.
IF it doesn'nt BOTHER YOU yet, then you haven't SEEN enough of IT and you'll just have TO take my WORD FOR it, it IS really annoying.
Tom S.
Sell your earthly homestead and move to Mars!

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

33 of 36 people found the following review helpful By Tom S. on April 20, 2009
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Bob Zubrin really knows his stuff when it comes to the Red Planet. And here he gives us a somewhat tongue-in-cheek, projected look at the guidebook he would write for the wanna-be Mars immigrant of the late 21st century. That's cool. And it's fun and informative.

But that's the end of the good news. Here's the bad news.

1. This work is extremely short. It is barely more than novella-length. It is about half of the length of a "normal" best-selling novel. That's word count, not pages - the print edition must have pretty big type. And fully 5% of the "book" is a bullet list of the topics! The market value of a locked digital copy of a novella-length work is about $2, not $10. So this is a rip off in the basic sense of content-per-dollar.

2. The Kindle Edition is a trashed OCR scan that borders on unreadable and will drive you nuts. Starting halfway through the first chapter, a few random words or phrases in each sentence are in italics. I can't get my REVIEW to emulate THAT, so instead I'LL SHOW you by inserting some WORDS IN capitals TO emulate the problem. Don't YOU think this IS really irritating? IF it doesn'nt BOTHER YOU yet, then you haven't SEEN enough of IT and you'll just have TO take my WORD FOR it, it IS really annoying.

So how do I know it's OCR? Smoking gun: part of a caption reads "A/lost people look better in...". Classic and obvious OCR glitch: a flyspeck in the M caused it to mis-read "Most people.."; once it saw the first hump in the M as an A, it was lost in morphospace trying to assign some char values to the rest of the M! There are hundreds of other cases, in many of them it is quite difficult to work out what the actual text is supposed to be.

I have no idea why they did this stupid book trick.
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27 of 29 people found the following review helpful By Eli J. Harman on December 4, 2008
Format: Paperback
Once again, Zubrin delights and informs like no other. This concise, easy-reading, laugh-out-loud, little volume is packed with more solid scientific and engineering information about Mars, Mars exploration and settlement than even "The Case for Mars." Whereas the latter was informative and interesting, but fairly straight-laced, Zubrin here takes a decidedly more lighthearted approach, creating a fictional, early 22nd century guide to surviving and thriving on the new frontier.

As usual, Zubrin's strongest suit is his ability to turn his caustic wit against the foolish, timid, bureaucratic, cowardly, thoughtless paralysis which presently cripples the aerospace establishment, and indeed, Zubrin suggests, the entirety of terrestrial "civilization" (if what we have down here still merits the term.) Perhaps my favorite example is the following passage detailing water reclamation from the exhaust of a space suit's methanol/oxygen fuel-cell (used to provide electric power) in order to extend the endurance of Martians on EVA.

"The water you obtain will include a significant quantity of carbon dioxide in solution, which is why NASA has banned systems that plumb fuel-cell wastewater directly back to the suit canteen. However, despite the claimed medical problem, it is a fact that in the twentieth century, many people chose to drink carbonated water as a matter of preference."

I do not hold with those who regard Zubrin's political asides as an interruption of an otherwise interesting presentation of scientific or engineering information. Zubrin's ability to decisively skewer folly of all sorts, technical, medical, political, social, is the primary reason that he has always impressed me, and in my opinion, constitutes the single best feature of this particular book.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful By railmeat on April 17, 2009
Format: Paperback
How to Live on Mars is yet another book on the topic by Robert Zubrin. He is an aerospace engineer who wrote The Case for Mars, which describes his Mars Direct plan. That is a fine book and makes a good argument for why his plan is the best one.

How to Live on Mars revisits the same points as The Case for Mars in a a very different format. Unfortunately there is no new information here. The format is of a veteran Mars settler advising a novice before they ship out to Mars. There is a lot of thinly disguised libertarian political polemic. This is not done very well. The author seems to be attempting humor. The political outlook is extreme. It is possible that any settlement on Mars will be a very "wild west" sort of libertarian enterprise, but the author does not really argue why that would be the case, or that it is better then any alternatives.

There are several places were the author describes how the new settler can obtain stolen goods from a supposed NASA agency on Mars. He does this with a approving tone. He does not explain why it is worthwhile to pursue a settlement where one must steal to survive. In another section he suggests the prospective settler go into business selling hyped up property that will be available on Mars once the terraforming succeeds. He admits that this would be fraud, since no one can tell if the terraforming will work, or what the results would be. The reader is basically told the settling on Mars is only viable for criminals.

I would love to see human exploration and even settlement of Mars. This text does not advance that case at all. Zubrin should have stopped with The Case for Mars.
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