Author: Ben Bova
I’m in the middle of Return To Mars right now, and I want to do a review when I’m done, so I figured I should review Mars (which I read several months ago) first, so you get some of the references.
Mars details the first human trip to Mars, set in approximately 2050. This gives it a certain amount of advanced science over today, but nothing really amazing. I liked that, it gave it a sense that it could really happen.
The book is set in two concurrent time frames, one being before the trip, dealing a great deal with the politics and logistics of planning and picking who goes. The other is the trip itself.
The Mars story is told in the second person from the viewpoint of Jamie Waterman, a native American geologist. Jamie is not the perfect protagonist, but is remarkably normal for sci-fi book.
Obviously, the main goal of the expedition is to determine whether there is now or ever was life on Mars. I won’t spoil it for you by telling you what they find in that regard.
Pros: Lots of hard science. I’ve read several other Bova books, and they all excel in this area. Not so much that I’m completely out of the loop, but enough that I learned some about astrophysics, solar physics, and geology.
Also, it appears that Mr. Bova really did his research regarding Mars. His endnotes thank quite a few people from NASA.
Cons: This is very much a personal preference, but a great deal of the book was spent on Earth, dealing with the politics of the trip. In the author’s defence, all that he wrote about is probably very realistic. In a way, making the reader suffer through it is much like what the characters had to deal with. They didn’t like it any more than I did.
Final: All in all, a very good book. I learned lots about Mars. All scientific conjectures made are based on hard science, backed up by research. Although I didn’t discuss any of the other characters, there’s excellent development of each of the 20 or so characters directly involved with the expedition.
You can buy Mars here
I also recommend Bova’s other books. I’ve read and will review Jupiter and Venus, and Return to Mars as soon as I’m done with it.