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Mars Mass Market Paperback – June 1, 1993

3.7 out of 5 stars 119 customer reviews
Book 3 of 19 in the Grand Tour Series

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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. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Mass Market Paperback: 560 pages
  • Publisher: Bantam Spectra; Reprint edition (June 1, 1993)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 055356241X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0553562415
  • Product Dimensions: 4.2 x 1.2 x 6.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (119 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #430,689 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

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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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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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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Format: Audio CD
With the Martian rovers Spirit and Opportunity driving around Mars and sending us back some thousands of pictures you have to ask yourself if a book on the first manned trip to mars makes sense. Strangely enough, even though this book is now 17 years old, the answer is yes.

To be sure there are some problems with the book that has made it outdated. In the book, for instance the Soviet Union is still around and part of earthly politics. And in the book Mars is a much nicer place than we see now.

But all in all, I didn't find that these things mattered. After all, we still haven't sent any people to Mars. And the politics of a multi-national crew composed of both men and women is still an open question. So far as we know, there hasn't been any sex in space. In the book there is, and the crew has taken their Earth bound attitudes with them. This includes all the petty problems you would expect of having people cooped up together for a long time.

These are just a couple of the interesting points about the book. Forget the forbidding, desolate pictures from Spirit and Opportunity and have a good time with this book.

This is the first book in the Mars series recorded by Stefan Rudnicki. (See also Return to Mars and Mars Life) It is complete and unabridged, almost 20 hours of recording on 15 compact disks. He's a great reader.
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