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Mars, Inc.: The Billionaire's Club Hardcover – December 3, 2013


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Baen; First Edition edition (December 3, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1451639341
  • ISBN-13: 978-1451639346
  • Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 1.1 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (25 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,081,146 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Bova's first Billionaire's Club SF novel falls entirely flat. Multimillionaire Art Thrasher has his heart set on sending a manned mission to Mars, but doesn't trust the goddamned government or the fartbrains in the White House. Thrasher cajoles a handful of billionaire acquaintances into providing the financing he needs to create a private space program. Bova (the Grand Tour novels) is on firm ground when he writes (too infrequently) about science, but his grasp of business and politics is superficial and his story sometimes incoherent. More than a year into the program, Thrasher is shocked to learn that there's significant political opposition to the use of nuclear propulsion. And when the rationale for suspected sabotage is revealed, it makes very little sense. Most implausible are the human relationships—especially those between the short, paunchy, fidgety protagonist and a variety of classically attractive women. When Thrasher gives up his womanizing for romance, the development is both utterly predictable and totally unconvincing. (Dec.)

Review

''The Hugo winner returns to his most popular subject: the quest for Mars.'' --Publishers Weekly

''[Bova is] the science fiction author who will have the greatest effect on the world.'' --Ray Bradbury --This text refers to the Audio CD edition.

Customer Reviews

His characters are well defined and believable.
bobml
What's more, there's no payoff, no grand spectacle, just the 'fact' of a launch to end the book that we don't even get to see, much less experience.
Bob Milne
Bova makes this story believable by having a strong human element.
Ronald C. Tobin

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By TChris TOP 100 REVIEWER on December 5, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition
Mars, Inc. is a book about an aging man written by an aging man. It has the feel of 1950s science fiction. Sometimes that's a good thing. I like the "sense of wonder" that pervades a lot of 1950s sf and Bova captures a little of that here. But in style and content, Mars, Inc. seems like a novel written by a science fiction writer who is stuck in the past.

A billionaire named Art Thrasher persuades other billionaires to invest in a manned mission to Mars because ... it's the right thing to do? Bova's optimistic view of capitalism, and of the willingness of billionaires to spend billions on a project that is unlikely to return their investment, seems naïve, but that's the premise. Thrasher spends half his time complaining that politicians have devoted their lives to spending his wealth and the other half complaining that politicians aren't giving more funding to NASA. He doesn't have much insight into his own hypocrisy but most people don't, so in that sense Thrasher is a realistic character. The fact that he's an old horndog is the most interesting aspect of his personality. In most other respects, Thrasher is a pretty boring guy, despite Bova's effort to give him the feistiness of a Ross Perot.

Bova generally skips over the details of rocket design and manufacture, focusing instead (in a fairly simplistic way) on politics and finance. He does give us a tour of the spacecraft, a conventional vehicle that has been described by sf writers hundreds of times. Eventually the plot incorporates a mystery theme as Thrasher suspects the Mars project is being sabotaged and that someone is trying to take over his company. Bova invites the reader to select from the several suspects he puts on display.
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8 of 10 people found the following review helpful By S. Crouch on December 5, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Ben Bova's books are generally entertaining without being great works of literature and Mars Inc. The Billionaire's Club is no exception. The main character is Art Thrasher who manages to persuade a group of billionaires to contribute a billion dollars each year for five years to finance a human mission to Mars. Art feels that the Mars trip has to be done and there is no hope that NASA will ever do it given that the US Government space program seems permanently stuck in low earth orbit. Perhaps this book was inspired by "Inspiration Mars" the planned fly-by of Mars in 2018 sponsored by space tourist Dennis Tito. Art's plan is of course laughingly unfeasible but private enterprise looks like playing an increasing part in the future of the US space program. The technical problems of getting a human expedition to Mars are huge though and this book almost completely ignores them. It has to be said though that we are probably technically closer to landing on Mars than we were to landing on the moon when Kennedy made his famous speech in 1961.

In spite of all the technical faults though this is an entertaining read with Bova doing a better job than usual with his characters. Art's faithful private secretary, various business rivals and employees all play a major part. There is a conspiracy to sabotage the project and various romantic entanglements for Art. Overall I liked it.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Paul Mastin TOP 1000 REVIEWER on December 13, 2013
Format: Hardcover
Reading Mars, Inc., I got the feeling that Ben Bova is a writer with a bold vision of the future, but whose boldest writing days are behind him.

First the good. I love the idea of the book. Art Thrasher, a tech entrepreneur who believes we should be sending crewed missions to Mars, determines that private efforts can accomplish what the "g-d government" (this particular noun is distasteful to Thrasher, and is always accompanied by the profane adjective) has neither the will, the funding, or the drive to accomplish. I agree with him on that point. SpaceX, Virgin Galactic, and other private, profit-driven companies will drive future space development as much as, if not more than, government has or will.

Bova creates a convincing argument that the biggest obstacle to taking strides in the space program is money. Thrasher gathers a couple dozen billionaires who are willing to sink a portion of their billions into a project for which the promise of return on their investment is rather slim. Further, Bova presents the science of Mars, Inc. in such a way that nothing in it seems to be a great leap beyond present technology. (I am speaking as a non-scientist, of course.)

Now the criticism. Mars, Inc. struck me as a very amateurish effort. I've read self-published novels, and novels by first-time writers that were better written. If I didn't know this was written by an award-winning, legendary sci-fi writer, I would have thought it was a no-name writer, published by a no-name press. The financial, political, scientific, and personal hurdles Thrasher faces are poorly developed, superficially described, and simplistically resolved. The characters are cardboard cutouts, and their relationships and interactions lack spark or depth.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Timothy Pecoraro on March 1, 2014
Format: Hardcover
First and foremost I would like to admit that I don’t think I was the intended audience for this book. That being said however, most of what there is not to like about Mars, Inc. Has nothing to do with Hard Scifi at all. In fact, this book could have easily been a mystery novel with the Mars Mission as it’s backdrop. In fact, it is… There is very little to nothing about actually going to Mars in this book. Except perhaps what you would find in a 20 minute blurb on the Discovery Channel. The majority of the book is about the trials and tribulations of Art Thrasher and his need to get humans to Mars. But by the end of the book you are fully and completely sure you have been duped by a Scifi author into reading their first mystery novel. Because there is no little science here that it could have been cut out completely and it wouldn’t have made any difference to the main plot of the story.

For the majority of Mars Inc. I was bored and for the rest I was waiting to see if some revelation around the corner would foster a cool Scifi story but it never did. If this is Ben Bova’s bridge book to the mystery genre; good for him. If not, it’s a terrible book.
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