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Mars (Bantam Spectra Book) Hardcover – June 1, 1992

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Product Details

  • Series: Bantam Spectra Book
  • Hardcover: 502 pages
  • Publisher: Spectra; First Edition edition (June 1, 1992)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0553078925
  • ISBN-13: 978-0553078923
  • Product Dimensions: 8.3 x 6.5 x 1.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (106 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #710,962 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

YA-- Jamie Waterman, a Native American geologist, is chosen at the last minute for the first manned exploration of the planet Mars. On touchdown, he is so overwhelmed with the emotion of the moment that he utters a Navajo phrase instead of the political statement he is supposed to read. This sets off a chain reaction among the leaders and politicians on Earth. Thus starts Bova's sprawling space opera. The expedition, seen from Jamie's point of view, is really the protagonist here. The story is filled with lots of characters of different nationalities and there's plenty of political intrigue. Of course, there are obstacles to overcome: a meteor almost destroys the lab, the doctor neglects his duty and nearly kills them all, crew members come down with mysterious ``Martian flu,'' and through it all is the never-ending search for evidence of life on this planet. Bova has done extensive research and his descriptions of Mars and the conditions under which the study is conducted are very plausible. All in all, a satisfying story.
- Susan McFaden, Fairfax County Public Library, VA
Copyright 1992 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Kirkus Reviews

A bulging, impressive, all-you-ever-wanted-to-know, you-are- there Martian odyssey, from the veteran writer-editor (Cyberbooks, Voyagers, etc.). In about the year 2020, a huge multinational project gets under way, the bulk of it seen through the eyes of young Navaho geologist and Mars-voyage hopeful Jamie Waterman. Unconcerned with traditional science-fictional plotting and melodrama, Bova focuses tightly on the day-to-day, nuts-and-bolts details: the inordinate amount of politicking necessary to get the project off the ground; the vital cooperation and occasional wrangling between the many participating nations (Russian pilots, American software, Japanese technology and money, plus a sprinkling of Europeans); the months of arduous training; more politicking as science and flight-crew teams are selected from the dozens of expectant trainees--Jamie gets the nod because geologist #1 falls ill, and the much-loathed #2 is forced out by his colleagues; the tensions that build up through long months in space. Neither does the exploration of Mars run smoothly. Stepping down onto the red sand, Jamie offends the powers-that-be by lapsing into Navaho instead of parroting a politically correct prepared speech; a British doctor, hot to seduce one of the female crew members, neglects his job; a meteorite shower nearly destroys the explorers' living quarters; Jamie persuades mission control to let him approach a cliff village he's convinced he finds; the explorers fall mysteriously ill; Jamie's Mars buggy falls into a dust bowl while his crew are too weak to haul themselves out. And, well, of course there's life on Mars! Technically accurate and absorbing if somewhat ponderous at times, with questions and answers reliably in balance: a dependable, satisfying foray into science realism. -- Copyright ©1992, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

13 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Utah Blaine on January 15, 2007
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Ben Bova weaves a compelling, realistic tale of man's first mission to Mars. This is a plot-line that has been pretty well beaten to death, but Bova has created a story that, I think, explores the complexities and possibilites of our first exploration of the Red Planet. The strength of this books is definitely in character development. The main character, Jamie Waterman, is a geologist whose father is a well-educated Navaho indian, and his mother from a wealthy family in New England. This type of character could easily have been cliched, but I found him to be thoughtful, sympathetic, and well-developed. His family are both professors at Berkeley, but I found it interesting that Bova had Waterman study at a less well known school (University of New Mexico). Waterman isn't some superhuman who was destined for greatness from the time he was three, just a smart, hard working scientist who through a combination of effort and luck ultimately gets selected to go to Mars. The ultimate goals of this mission are two fold: to find out as much as they can (in a scientific sense), but also to lay the ground work for future missions.

The story starts with the explorers arrival on Mars, but the text is filled with flashbacks that describe the training, the characters, some of their initial interactions, and the background of the trip to Mars. Bova clearly did his homework when writing this book and describes Mars in great detail. Many of the difficulties encountered by the explorers are well-reasoned and well-explained, and the entire mission plan is well thoughtout by Bova. One thing that could really have added to this book was a map of Mars so that we could see where everyone was going and what the relationship was between the locations visited by the scientists.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Alberto Leon on December 22, 2006
Format: Mass Market Paperback
I believe that this book was not about Mars. This book was a way to protest about the way mankind reacts when science advances faster than our understnding. Ulterior motives, politics, personal hatred, racial stereotypes, pride and more evils are found in the crew of scientist on their way to Mars.

This book was very informative. I believe that the major task of literature is to inform. Ben Bova has a fun way to do it. "Mars" is a book that keeps you reading. It's like a mirror of our soroundings.

Bova wants to make a comparison between the two worlds by placing a village that resembles terrestrial dwelings. It could be also a warning that whatever happened in Mars could happen here if we are not careful. I think this is the main message in this book. "Humans will be humans" and it's so human to go to Mars and pollute it with our prejudice, ignorance and arrogance(not to mention dangerous CFC's hydrocarbons and other pollutants).Or maybe that's the reason Mars today is dead. Maybe the Martians made the same mistakes we're making today and the result is a barren planet.

If you read this book thinking that you are going to read about Mars, then don't read it, unless you want to learn about regolites, permafrosts, and other geological formations. There is nothing else in Mars to talk about.

If you want to read about men and women undertaking a major scientific endeavor and read about their adventures, then you won't be dissapointed!
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Lance C. Panzer on April 16, 2004
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Man's first expedition to Mars, the political and financial intrigue behind the scenes, the crew's training here on Earth, the interaction of the crew in transit, the struggle to maintain sexual self-discipline for five months in space, the indescribable excitement of being one of the chosen few to walk upon the Red Planet.

This book is entirely believable, and in many passages reads like nonfiction. Ben Bova patiently--but not condescendingly--explains the science behind the characters' activities. He also does a fine job of portraying the characters' child-like enthusiasm for finding evidence of life on Mars--an obsession tempered by their skeptical scientific minds.

This story can be quite frightening: there are several mishaps--several injuries--that just might make you yelp. Through these mishaps, the reader comes to care for the characters.

HOWEVER, Mr. Bova always likes to interject romance into his novels, and I'm afraid his portrayal of romantic feelings on the printed page is rather two-dimensional. His romantic characters seem to always suffer from an inability to adequately express themselves, and are shackled by miscommunication. In short, his portrayal of romance is immature.

But don't let that stop you. This book is worth reading. Especially now (April '04), for as you read these words, two rovers from Earth are prowling about the frigid red sands of Mars.
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10 of 13 people found the following review helpful By HerOdyssey on April 13, 2001
Format: Mass Market Paperback
I think the most terrible disappointment is one like this one is... the sort that promises so much, but ends up little more than formula with a dose of machoism to boot. Mr. Bova has a common thread in all his books, there isn't a male character that won't take pause to admire how f**kable the female characters are, no matter how dire the situation... If a plot-line could be charted on a graph, I'd imagine that all of his books would align almost exactly to some formula or other.
MARS and its companion (Return to Mars) however, are anticlimax embodied. You drag yourself through the whole trudging plot to find it to be not worth much of the effort. I suppose he likes to write about how things are done and how they work, and those are indeed interesting for their own part, but not enough to hold up an entire book, let alone a SEQUEL! Argh!
My recommendation? For what it's worth: It may appeal to some.. why there's plenty of 'little Joanna' and frisky Russian astro-skanks to go around, and lots of technobabble to keep you busy ::incoherent grumbling:: But for my count, I found myself, like after reading most of his other books (in some mad hope to find some appeal in his writing), putting the book down and rolling my eyes, wondering how I could have possibly wasted as much time on that when I could have been reading something better, like The Sparrow, or Ender's Game. Anyway, such is my opinion.
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