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Best Books of the Year So Far
Looking for something great to read? Browse our editors' picks for 2015's Best Books of the Year So Far in fiction, nonfiction, mysteries, children's books, and much more.
Bova’s Grand Tour future histories continue to constitute one of the more absorbing and intelligent contemporary sf sagas. Here two scientists add up fossil evidence to conclude that Mars once supported intelligent life and that Martians colonized Earth—conclusions that run them into the religious buzz saw of New Morality conservatives. The tension and suspense of that confrontation make a well-done if somewhat didactic thriller out of much of the book. Readers at peace with the hard-sf community’s views on religious influences will be unperturbed, and surely not just they will enjoy this exceptionally intelligent and absorbing story. --Roland Green
--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
I haven't read a great deal of science fiction in recent years but I grew up on the novels of Heinlein, Asimov and Clarke, and Ben Bova's Mars Life reminds me a whole lot of the style used so successfully by those guys. Those writers were at their peaks in socially simpler times, when the dialogue of books and movies seldom reflected the harsh reality of street language and the raciest sex scenes described were of the relatively tame James Bond style. Their plots were seldom over-complicated, their character types rather predictable and their dialogue not always very realistic sounding. But, taken as a whole, the style worked, and today many of their books are considered to be science fiction classics. So the fact that Mars Life reads like a throwback to that science fiction era is not at all a bad thing.
This book is actually the third in Bova's Mars series but readers like me who have not read the first two books in the series will have no problem reading and enjoying it as a standalone novel. In fact, Mars Life is actually the sixteenth novel in Bova's "Grand Tour" series begun in 1993, which also includes a book of "Grand Tour" stories.
Navajo tribesman, Jamie Waterman, discovered Martian cliff dwellings on his first trip to Mars and has ever since that time dedicated his life to keeping the Mars exploration program focused and well-funded. Now, much to the dismay of Waterman and everyone associated with the program, both governmental and private funding is drying up and the existence of the program is threatened. Partially, that is because the United States government is facing the tremendously complicated and expensive prospect of relocating a substantial portion of its population due to all the flooding caused in recent years by global warming.Read more ›
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Mars Life (2008) is the eleventh SF novel in the Grand Tour series, following Titan. The storyline, however, continues from Return to Mars. In that volume, Jamie Waterman -- a Navajo -- found a cliff dwelling much like those of the Old Ones back on Earth. The announcement of intelligent life, even though extinct, was a great sensation, but the fundamentalists were not pleased.
When everyone else was recalled to Earth, Jamie and Vijay stayed behind. Then the Navajo nation claimed Mars with Jamie as their immediate caretaker. When another Navajo came to occupy the claim, Jamie and Vijay returned to Earth and were married.
In this novel, twenty-three years later, Jamie and Vijay are still married and still in love. But their son has died in a skydiving accident. Jamie was on Mars at the time and returned to console his wife. He has spent the past two years close to her, never leaving her alone.
Varuna Jarita -- Vijay -- isn't quite as devastated as Jamie thinks. She has been waiting for him to work out his own pain. When he decides to go back to Mars, she is ready to go with him. After all, they can always use another physician with Mars experience.
Dex Trumball was a geologist on Mars with Jamie two decades before. Since then, he has been head of the Mars Foundation. He is Jamie's best friend, but they do disagree about tourism on Mars.
Carter Carleton is the oldest man on Mars and the only archaeologist. He has come to Mars to escape the false charges of rape leading to his forced resignation from the university.Read more ›
The Grand Tour is tapering off with this installment. I did enjoy the further exploration of Mars and discovery of Martian fossils. The familiar characters were welcome.
The references to Christians and scientists were a bit heavy-handed. It supposes that tens of millions of Christians are old-style Puritans and/or loons and that despite their foibles scientists are the epitome of human development and ardent in thier pursuit of knowledge.
Such broad strokes take away from the story as the truth is somewhere far in between.
Some character motivations and reactions seem a bit...exagerrated, as if this was a screenplay. Some characters even seemed repellent which surprised me. It almost seemed rushed.
It was worth three stars but far from Bova's best works. It is worth reading if you have the first two installments under your belt.
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Humanity first set down on the Red Planet more than twenty years ago. Now nearly two hundred explorers are bound and determined to unlock its secrets...among which includes living lichen and subterranean bacteria and the long-extinct Martian organisms that built a rock a dwelling high up in a cliff.
But not everyone is so eager to uncover the secrets of Mars. Back on Earth there is a growing movement -- spearheaded by the ultra-conservative New Morality -- to shut down all exploration on the Red Planet.
Now Jamie Waterman, the lead geologist on the First Expedition to explore Mars, is in a race against time...can he procure the means to the keep a manned presence permanently on the Red Planet, or will the New Morality have its way and shut down Humanity's beachhead into the unknown forever?
Ben Bova, per norm, does a wonderful job of giving you a glimpse of what is just around the corner...along with what aspects of our Human nature may hold us back from pushing Humanity's boundaries. The biggest peeve I had with this tale is that Bova does not balance his New Morality "bad guy". In the story, the New Morality slithers its way into politics on the national level...ok, that's fine and believable. But in real life, there are counterbalances. The New Morality's push to theocratize would inevitably be offset by those who believed the opposite position, that government should be run wholly on a secular basis. Thus, a give and take. But there was no balance, it was just institution after institution -- both public and private -- either willingly caving in or being forced to cave.Read more ›
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