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Voyage Mass Market Paperback – October 3, 1997

4.0 out of 5 stars 65 customer reviews
Book 1 of 3 in the NASA Trilogy Series

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Amazon.com Review

Kennedy survived. Like many alternate history stories, that's the premise of Stephen Baxter's Voyage. But in Baxter's version of the past, that one altered fact is the propellant that drives humanity into space, beyond the primitive lunar landings of the 1960s. Spurred by a JFK who champions space flight and a Nixon administration that backs NASA, humans reach Mars in 1986. But this is a tragic tale as well as a triumphant one, for Baxter's relentless realism chronicles the perils of extended space flight as well as its glamorous achievements, making for a gritty, true-to-life story. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Publishers Weekly

With just a little bit of alternate history, Baxter's excellent what-if novel about a 1986 Mars landing accomplishes its mission. The premise is brilliant: at the time of the Apollo moon landing, President Nixon authorized a Space Task Group to define the post-Apollo role of NASA. In real life, Nixon's directive in effect ended manned space exploration in favor of the Shuttle program; in Baxter's novel, thanks to one major change in history, the green light is given for a manned Mars mission, the Ares program. Seen primarily through the eyes of Natalie York, the geologist on the mission as well as the first women in space, the road from Apollo to Ares is potholed with bureaucratic battles, technical challenges, an Apollo XIII-like disaster and constant fretting about the inevitability (and necessity) of sacrificing lives to advance the cause of science. Baxter, whose recent works include a wildly imagined sequel to The Time Machine (The Time Ships), peoples his story with main characters who are as authentic as his science. By contrast, the supporting characters-notably an ex-NASA administrator who gets religion-are sketchy and barely integrated with the plot. Even so, there's plenty of imagination on display here-and research, too, as Baxter invents not only a credible mission to Mars but also a credible technical, political and personal history behind it. Author tour.
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product Details

  • Mass Market Paperback: 784 pages
  • Publisher: Harper Voyager; First Thus edition (October 3, 1997)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0061057088
  • ISBN-13: 978-0061057083
  • Product Dimensions: 4.2 x 2.4 x 6.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (65 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #457,515 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Mass Market Paperback
VOYAGE was the second book by Stephen Baxter that I've read, but it's the best one. I have to say it--Baxter's got stones--big ones. He tackles an alternate history's journey to Mars in 1986 with ease. Everything is researched to the letter and feels real, from the inner workings of NASA to the tragedy of a nuclear-powered Apollo flight (shades of the Challenger disaster) to the characters themselves. Here is a writer who actually gives a damn about the characters he creates, and does not give them the short strift just to lavish everything on the technology. True, I wished there could have been more on the astronauts' exploration on Mars, but that was not Baxter's point. It's _how_ we get to the Red Planet and _why_ we should go that's important. He also shows the scientific cost--no space shuttle, no Voyager or Viking missions... To put everything in simple terms--if you like science fiction, if you are interested in the space program, or if you just like books that are damned good--read VOYAGE.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
Stephen Baxter's VOYAGE takes place in an alternate past: What if John F. Kennedy had survived assassination and lobbied for NASA to send astronauts to Mars in the 1980s, instead of building the space shuttle? It's a fascinating premise and certainly one worthy of a unique Mars novel.

Baxter himself holds a doctorate in engineering, so it's no surprise that he really knows his way around the technical stuff of spaceflight. He's quite knowledgeable in space history, as well. He presents an impressive amount of authentic detail, far more than I've seen in any other novel of its kind. Perhaps too much, in fact, because many spaceflight scenes repeat events and dialogue from real-life missions almost verbatim. On the whole, VOYAGE feels quite faithful to the era described, even if it's somewhat too faithful. It's also interesting to catch him using a few historic dates in spaceflight -- July 1976, April 1981, January 1986 -- so we can contemplate the differences in his alternate past.

Geologist Natalie York is VOYAGE's most reliable protagonist; she comes across as determined but not easy to root for. Baxter makes a few generalizations based on astronaut mythology, and he rarely hides his disdain for NASA's old "pilot vs. scientist" culture. One veteran astronaut is so surly that in the real space program he would have been permanently shelved from flight status (a la Wally Schirra). Nonetheless, Baxter avoids many of the stilted stereotypes of Ben Bova's Mars novels, so at least these characters are more subtle and level-headed. For the most part, he steers clear of the soap-opera style plotting that cripples most Mars books, and that alone is commendable.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
You have to ask yourself if the alternate history scenarios portrayed within this amazing book would have meant a more glorious space program. Would sacrificing half of the Apollo lunar missions, the Viking landers, the Voyager probes and the Space Shuttle have been worth it for one, single flight to Mars? That is a question Baxter makes you ask yourself through implication. This novel is one of the finest creations of 1990s science fiction. But I was a bit annoyed when I read it, as I was researching to write a very similar book to this! (aw, shucks) All the flashbacks within the story should have been annoying but Steve Baxter makes it all work very well. In an ideal world with lots of funding, ALL the Apollo lunar missions would have been retained, there would have been a series of Skylab space stations and mankind would have worked and lived on Mars. ALL this before the 21st Century. SIGH...
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
I suppose I'm glad Stephen Baxter didn't manage to become an astronaut! I think he is still longing to go into space, and his novels give him -and us - the opportunity to go after all.
This longing is very obvious in 'Voyage'. Baxter decides to take a crucial point in the history of the U.S. space program - Kennedy's call to go to the moon and Mars. Kennedy here survives the assassination attempt and goes on proclaiming manned space missions. At the end of the sixties, Nixon decides to expand the manned missions to go to Mars as well...
A fever possesses NASA. Almost everything goes to Ares - the name for the Mars mission. And almost a generation later, in the mid-eighties, 'man' (i.e. woman) stands on Mars... Ohhh yes, it would have been so nice.
The Ares mission to Mars has an expensive price ticket. A lot of other missions have to be cancelled, there is simply not enough money for them in the NASA budget. So, there are never more then just three Apollo missions; there is no space shuttle. Many other missions are cut down: no Magellan to Venus, no Voyagers 1 & 2 to the gas giants. We don't know anything about them that we do know in our own universe.
Are we better off in this alternate universe? Maybe not for non-Martian planetary scientists. But by going to Mars so soon, NASA and at least the U.S. commit themselves to the red planet - and maybe other nation will get Mars fever as well, and start lowering their weapon budgets. I suppose NASA in the 'Voyage' universe will get a huge increase in their post-Ares budget
Buy and read this book!
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