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Esteemed Mars guru Bob Zubrin calls The Martian Race "one of the finest novels about human exploration of the Red Planet ever written. "But then again, Bob is a character in the book (albeit in the briefest of cameos), so what else could he possibly say? That notwithstanding, Zubrin's right--he couldn't have picked a better book to show his face in. By popular assent, Martian Race deserves top honors among the millennial wave of Mars exploration tales, propelled as it is by the skillful storytelling of physics doyen Gregory Benford, a Campbell and two-time Nebula winner.
Martian Race is near-future SF, set in the twenty-teens (just before Kim Stanley Robinson's Mars saga kicks off), which may contribute to its being a bit of a slow starter; this is realistic, nuts-and-bolts speculation on a mission using pretty basic technology. But the pace picks up considerably as our heroes--the likable Julia and her Russky hubby Viktor and crew, backed by the Mars Consortium and its biotech billionaire CEO John Axelrod--begin to duke it out with a Euro-Sino concern to claim the $30 billion Mars Prize and, of course, get back from the Red Planet in one piece. Benford's work throughout is engaging and thorough, exploring every aspect of why we should make this trip at all (and even a few arguments against it, like Mars Bar marketing tie-ins). --Paul Hughes
With so many Mars novels having been published in recent years, including award-winning fiction by Kim Stanley Robinson and others, it's hard to believe that even a talented writer like Benford (Cosm) could pull off another successful retelling of humanity's first expedition to the Red PlanetAbut he does. In the early 21st century, after NASA's Mars program has been grounded because of a Challenger-like catastrophe, a $30 billion prize is announced to be awarded to the first private organization that can land a spaceship on Mars, do serious science and return in one piece. Enter John Axelrod, eccentric billionaire and space aficionado. His Consortium launches a bare-bones Mars expedition that is closely followed by a Chinese-European attempt, and the race for Mars is on. Landing on the Red Planet, veteran astronaut Julia Barth and her comrades run into difficulties. Their return craft has suffered serious damage and may not be repairable. Even if they can lift off, they discover that their nuclear-powered Chinese-European competitor, although launching later than they did, may have the sheer power necessary to return to Earth first. Then, after months of fruitless searching, Julia discovers evidence of life on Mars. Benford is a solid prose stylist who creates full-toned characters. A practicing physicist, he writes plausible hard SF as well as anyone on the planet, and his portrait of Mars is among the most believable in recent genre literature. His strange and beautiful Martian ecology is so well described, in fact, that most readers will hope to explore it further, in a sequel. (Dec.) scheduled December 3, 1999, touchdown of the Mars Polar Lander.
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc.
The major governments of the world want to send men to Mars, but they don’t want to pay for it. So they put up a big cash prize ($30 billion) for the first successful manned... Read morePublished 2 months ago by AudioBookReviewer
It could have been an interesting story but the characters are so irritating, so cliche ( the good and the bad, the smar and the stupid) that it's difficult to read the book to the... Read morePublished 14 months ago by Mick Andrews
This was a good read. The technology and the details blend together very well to the point where you begin to wonder how much is sci-fi and how much is real. Read morePublished 18 months ago by A. Goyette
I was struck by the similarity between this novel and Steven Baxter's "Voyage". Whereas Voyage is the story of what if Kennedy hadn't died and his space program continued to it's... Read morePublished on February 18, 2013 by Wood Hughes
Another great Sci Fi book on Mars recommended by The Mars Society. The Martian Race is well written by Nebula award winning Gregory Benford.340 pages of fast paced action. Read morePublished on February 9, 2010 by Thomas Erickson
I sent $30 for The Martian Race by Gregory Benford thinking I was getting a standard hardback with dust jacket etc. What I recieved was an edition with a text book like quality. Read morePublished on March 5, 2009 by Mark Bendix
After Kim Stanley Robinson's Mars Trilogy (Red Mars, Green Mars, Blue Mars), science fiction novels about Mars exploration became quite common; and, most of them were just that... Read morePublished on September 7, 2008 by Wildness
Billionaire's boys and girls beat NASA by parsimony and corporate propaganda.
A novel that details the first trip to Mars by a manned crew. Read more
In THE MARTIAN RACE, Gregory Benford has created what is probably going to be the most realistic portrayal of our first manned expedition to Mars. Read morePublished on February 12, 2007 by James P. Lea