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Mars Crossing Mass Market Paperback – November 19, 2001


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Product Details

  • Mass Market Paperback: 448 pages
  • Publisher: Tor Science Fiction; 1st edition (November 19, 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0812576489
  • ISBN-13: 978-0812576481
  • Product Dimensions: 6.7 x 4.2 x 1.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (45 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,862,241 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Alien meets And Then There Were None in this first novel, a fast-paced story of survival and treachery, by Landis, a Hugo and Nebula award winner for his short fiction. In the year 2028, the crew of the Don Quijote are stranded on Mars when a technical mishap occurs, dooming their ship. Five of them set out for an abandoned Brazilian ship, which is at the north poleAhalf the planet away. But owing to body weight, only three will be able to return home on that ship. Their journey across the harsh Martian landscape in rough-terrain vehicles is fraught with dangerAsome topographical, some created: it quickly becomes evident someone is determined to kill the others in order to return to Earth. Unlike many hard SF writers, Landis hasn't forgotten the human element: there's the obligatory sex scene, viewed as a rite of passage abroad ship (and consummated in a weightless environment), and a satisfying, albeit unexpected, denouement that's psychological rather than technological. Though the crew members are basically variations on stock typesAthe stern commander, the weak teenager, the proud black woman, etc.Awithin these limits the effort is reasonably successful. Make no mistake: it's still hard SF, with a fine overlay of techno-lingo ("The cable was made of a superfiber called Spectra 10K. It consisted of a thread of buckminsterfullerine nanotubes woven in a matrix of polyethylene"), but with the mystery structure and liberal dollops of suspense, it should please SF fans of all persuasions. (Dec. 18) Forecast: Landis is not only a respected SF writer (who's won both the Hugo and the Nebula) but a world-class scientist, holder of a NASA fellowship. Booksellers who emphasize both his qualifications for writing this near-future Mars novel should find the title missing from their shelves.
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Booklist

In 2028 a joint NASA-private venture hopes to be third to land on and first to return safely from Mars. (The first crew died from air contamination, the second from fungus infections derived from athlete's foot.) The narrative switches back and forth from the problem facing the expedition--how to get from the landing site to the only still functioning return module on Mars, 3,000 miles away--to the personal histories of the mixed-gender, multiethnic cast. Landis balances characterization and hardware better than usual for this kind of space-exploration yarn, and the losses of sympathetic characters have genuine impact, while depictions of the grim, challenging Martian environment and the recalcitrance of hardware are knowledgeably done, which, given that Landis is a working NASA engineer, isn't surprising. Readers old enough to remember 1950s sf may think they've read the book before, and it is a virtually archetypal planetary exploration tale. But it is thoroughly competently executed, so it should draw the hard-core space-advocacy and Mars readerships and please plenty of others, as well. Roland Green
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

That is because Geoffrey A. Landis really works on Mars technology!
Sam Gentile
Unfortunately, the author only has enough Mars story to fit about 50 pages so he feels the need to alternate chapters between Mars and flashbacks.
W. D Swingley
A really great story with interesting characters and lots of adventure.
"g_williams"

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

12 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Kevin Spoering on October 27, 2001
Format: Hardcover
In this near term science fiction novel, circa 2028, Geoffrey Landis gives us an exciting long distance trek across the surface of the planet Mars in a desperate attempt to save themselves after a major equipment malfunction puts them in deadly peril. Two previous Martian missions have both failed. This is an exciting adventure and kept me turning the pages. The plot and character development were excellent, with several flashbacks that brought out the backgrounds and personalities of the astronauts in meticulous detail without becoming monotonous. In some science fiction novels an author sometimes creates too many characters, but here Landis gets it just right. There are many chapters, all very short. Landis is a NASA engineer, so the technical aspects of this novel are superb, and as in all great science fiction the technology takes on a supporting role to the story and the lives of the people involved. This is a well written novel, earthy at times, not stodgy, a joy to read, a brilliant literary work. And you may even learn a little about the real planet Mars, after all, that is what science fiction is all about, a look at future possibilities in an entertaining way, and there is also a surprise ending.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Joseph Haschka TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on April 5, 2002
Format: Mass Market Paperback
So, what would you do as the commander of the third manned Mars mission who's discovered, after a back-slappingly successful landing, your ride home is busted and Earth can't send a rescue cab? Wow, talk about the potential for a nasty mood swing!
In MARS CROSSING, this is the dodgy predicament facing John Radkowski and his crew of five (Ryan, Tana, Estrella, Chamlong, and Trevor) in 2028. Their return vehicle, previously landed on Mars to robotically manufacture fuel from the planet's atmosphere for the trip back, didn't function as its instruments indicated. As a matter of fact, it's now just so much scrap metal. The only solution is to travel 4,000 miles to the polar cap and the landing site of the first Mars mission - Brazilian no less! - in 2020 whose crew mysteriously died on the surface. Their return vehicle is presumably still intact and ready to go. Trouble is, it only has room for two pilgrims.
I rarely read space sci-fi because the plots, ETs and technology are so exorbitantly far-fetched. I suspect life will be less fanciful, even in the far future. However, in MARS CROSSING, author Geoffrey Landis, a working NASA scientist, has crafted a solid tale around plausible new technology and the planetary knowledge gained from the Pathfinder and Mars Global Surveyor projects, both of which he was a part. Even the low key villains of the piece, for example the itchy life form that doomed the second Mars manned mission in 2022, are relatively mundane. (At least it wasn't Tinea cruris!)
I especially liked some aspects of the mission's technology, such as the Spectra 10 super-fiber rope, almost as thin as a spider's web, which can hold thousands of pounds, and the super-light Butterfly airplane. Pretty neat stuff!
I did find the composition of the crew slightly improbable.
Read more ›
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10 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Louis T. Heberlein on February 4, 2001
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
After last summer's horrid "Mission to Mars" and the disappointing "Red Planet," I was hesitant to invest my time in yet another Mars story. Besides the above mentioned movies, I also found Kim Stanley Robinson's Red Mars somewhat disappointing (I have yet to read Ben Bova's recent Mars books), so I began this book with some trepidation.
After the first few chapters of the book I was looking forward to kicking a few of the characters out the air lock; one in particular was very annoying. However, Geoffrey Landis did a good job of making me care for the characters by the end of the book. Landis accomplished this through frequent flashbacks to develop the characters. Some may find this style of writing distracting, but I found it important because I would not have found the tension in the story if I did not care about the characters.
The basic story is very similar to the movie "Red Planet," a team of astronauts fly to Mars in one ship and trek a short distance to a return vehicle only to find it damaged beyond repair. Their only hope is a long distance voyage across most of mars to use another ship as an escape vehicle. The problem: the vehicle cannot hold them all. Despite the lack of "Red Planet's" flesh eating explosive insects and psychotic attack robot, I found the adventure in this "Mars Crossing" much more exciting, largely because it felt real.
If you are a fan of space exploration and have been following the various real missions to Mars (at least the ones that worked), you will be treated to the additional pleasure of having the recent knowledge gained from these missions woven into the story. Science, when presented well, can be an adventure.
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10 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Phillip G. Cameron on June 13, 2002
Format: Mass Market Paperback
This is a very uninteresting tale of a multi-national team of astronauts who have landed on Mars and then are forced to trek across the planet to try to save themselves. Sound cool? It ain't. The tale of their boring trudge across Mars is broken up by chapters giving us their utterly implausable backstories. The Trevor/Brandon switcheroo is just too stupid to believe. Identical twins, one 18, one 21, (HUH?) buy $60K worth of Win A Trip To Mars lottery tickets. Older twin wins, has a suspicious accident then the younger twin assumes his identity and takes his place on the mission. Where did the boys get $60K for the lottery tickets? Where were their parents? Why didn't the inevitable celebrity spotlight that would result from their winning uncover their sham. Too, too mind-numbingly dumb.
COL Radkowski's tale is also downright silly. Here's a guy who kills someone during a holdup as a teen and ends up commanding the third mission to Mars. Gimme a break.
Then there is Estrela, the Brazilian prostitute turned geologist. It just keeps getting worse from here, believe me.
Comes complete with an absolutely horrible throwaway ending.
Don't buy this book. Stick with Robinson or Bova for your Mars fix.
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