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Mars Mass Market Paperback – June 1, 1993
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If you love mars and you love scientific fiction about space exploration then you will love this book. I feel the author made a hard choice in keeping away from fantasy and he sticks to it through and through. Its hard to explain without giving away spoilers.
Overall, I felt somewhat unsatisfied with the result. While the work is done masterfully for what it is I felt a tad bit cheated in the end. That said, I will state unequivocally that I was glued to this book throughout my reading. I found myself compelled to keep picking it up and the writing is done well so I was able to plow through it quite swiftly despite its length. So kudos to the author for keeping me quite interested from start to finish.
I did not like the politics of the book or the interpersonal relationships. Which I suppose you were not supposed to like as they serve as potential sources of conflict for the main character. They were done fine. However, I feel like the author kept threatening to derail the mission because of various political problems on the ground or petty jealousies among the chief characters. All of this would be quite good, and it served a purpose of putting this space exploration in a realistic world - yet I felt that the author shied away from really raising the stakes with these things. And because the politics and interpersonal relationships only seemed to threaten thing in a weak way I felt that the peaks and valleys of the story were less dramatic. I guess it felt a bit like the story was sacrificed for the mission. So I wonder if the book could have been shortened if we took out some of the these elements.
I would say this story is really a 3.5 star rating.
And yet, I feel duty bound to leave you with the notion that I could truly not put down the book. So if you are at all interested in Mars missions and realistic science fiction, I would definitely check it out
Archeology on Mars? Possible but not likely, considering the length of time that's past since Mars had conditions that would have been favorable to surface-dwelling life forms. Any archeology remaining would probably have to have been carved from solid stone, not a convenient method of construction. Same with fossils; the older they are, the harder they are to find. Life on Mars? More likely, considering recent discoveries on Earth and Mars. There are bacteria on Earth that just love those toxic perchlorates.
After reading this book (on kindle), I bought volume two of the trilogy. It's good, too.
Visual image of Mars, through good writing, is captivating and reference to existing, explored sites by satellites, etc., used throughout the book. No alien monsters, just a wonderful written book about the first explorers to land on Mars. Written with all the impact of political influencing the projects and science exploration and human impact of working in a small group, on a 'dry' planet, on a 'lifeless' planet, and the trip their and back.
I am now reading the "return to mars" sequel. I will be reading more from Ben Bova...moon exploration is next.