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First Landing Hardcover – Jul 2001

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Ace Books (July 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0441008593
  • ISBN-13: 978-0441008599
  • Product Dimensions: 14.2 x 2.6 x 21.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,863,747 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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THE BEAGLE WHIRLED SILENTLY THROUGH THE VOID. Read the first page
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Customer Reviews

3.2 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Anakina on 11 July 2014
Format: Kindle Edition
Defining this novel just science fiction would not be entirely correct, since the story is realistic in every aspect of science. Zubrin has not invented any technology that does not already exist at the time of the writing of this work, i.e. more than 10 years ago. This makes "First Landing" a work halfway between a novel and an essay, where a story of pure invention is used to provide the general public with a considerable amount of information both on Mars and on the state of the art of aerospace technology that would be able to bring us up to there.
Obviously the story is set in the future, which unfortunaltely has already passed for us, and it is still science "fiction" (in particular hard science fiction), not because we are talking about space travel and so on, but because it illustrates the actual feasibility through a fiction (invented) story.
On the other hand we are talking about Robert Zubrin, founder of the Mars Society and always involved in allowing mankind to land on the Red Planet with the intention to colonize it. His opinion is certainly optimistic, but this novel is primarily a propaganda tool for his organization (the appendix is proof of this), in order to develop an interest in achieving a goal that still seems far away. Zubrin shows us that in fact it is not. What is missing is only the will to achieve it for a countless number of reasons, including many political ones. This aspect is in fact partly covered in the novel.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful By MFH on 22 Jun. 2011
Format: Hardcover
Having seen the earlier review, I was almost preparing for disaster, but it turned out to be a pretty good read. For very Hard SF fans, it's not really up there with the likes of K S Robinson or Baxter, but it's not a bad near future adventure on the Red Planet. Also, I think if you're looking for perfectly formed character development and study, there are better types of literature around for these indulgences. For we hard SF fans, we just want "the science", nicely served up. We don't mind characters being a bit unreal, just as classical literature fans don't get too upset when their favourite authors annoyingly misconstrue the perturbation of Mercury's orbit for example.

Slight downsides: I didn't quite feel the fear of the closeness of death that constantly hounds the Mars explorer, or the nip of frostbite; nor even the whiff of the overused and unwashed pressure suit! But its not a bad story with some interesting political takes on the whole venture. This book is perhaps more like the stories of Ben Bova if you want a closer comparator in my view.
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6 of 9 people found the following review helpful By B. V. Maxwell on 1 April 2008
Format: Hardcover
I'll be honest. Robert Zubrin has been - in a non-professional sense - a colleague for a decade. Both of us are involved in the Mars Society (albeit in different parts of the world) and I've admired the way he has evangelised - and made very human - the ideal of manned missions to Mars.

Given his expertise in the field of Martian exploration, including his ground-breaking, co-authored proposal for "low cost", and "safe" human missions to Mars (called Mars Direct), any novel of his on the subject would, one would hope, cast the pros and cons of a mission and the hard reality of all that it entails, a gripping read.

Unfortunately, I've got to say, this is far from the case.

Almost everything that makes a human mission to Mars such a wondrous prospect - and potentially the greatest _international_ activity the world will likely undertake this century is subsumed in a highly-contrived plot of sabotage, shallow political point-scoring, paper-thin characters and the author's own right-wing bias.

The book opens solidly enough: an emergency prior to the good ship Beagle arriving on Mars that must be overcome - one of a series of events that can only be the work of - shock horror! - a saboteur among the crew.

It's then downhill from here.

I could have lived with the story if the characters were at least fleshed out - or even internally consistent. Sadly, this is not the case. Zubrin is rather well-known for pooh-poohing the psychological aspects of long duration crew selection; and it is fairly evident this bias is carried over to the crew of the Beagle. None of whom appears to have undergone any psych evaluations by NASA at any time in their training to ascertain whether they are fit enough to go on the mission, or are in any way compatible.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Naser Jamel on 7 May 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I like it because the story seems as if it really happened, no much odd fantasy, and such a science fiction I like most
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1 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Ashtar Command on 12 Nov. 2011
Format: Mass Market Paperback
As His Holiness A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupadha has pointed out, nobody can go to Mars except devotees of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON). The author of this book cannot go. That's simply a fact. One cannot reach other planets without spiritual preparation. Robert Zubrin and the Mars Society might whine about it for as long as they care, but they lack the inner qualifications. They'll never reach Mars.

Nor have we been to the Moon. The Moon landing was a hoax, perpetrated by the New York Post in association with Hollywood, Bollywood, Nittywood and one "Buzz" Aldrin (actually a nephew of recently deposed Libyan strongman Muammar Gaddafi). Swami Prabhupada exposed the Moon landing hoax already in 1968, over the objections of faint-hearted gurus and assorted hippies and libertarian "space cadets".

Yeah, you can whine about this too, Mr. Zubrin, but the facts remain. Lord Krishna stopped humanity from reaching the Moon.

Besides, what on Earth (pun intended) do we want to do on Mars anyway? Let's all go down in lotus position at the shores of Goa, smoke some hash, and meditate like crazy to the sound of the Great AUM. Then we'll eventually reach Mars, but beyond that, we'll find the Atman, not to mention the groves where the Lord plays his transcendental flute and dances with Radha and the cow-herd girls. Really, who needs Mars anyway? It's just a big, red rock suspended in a vacuum.

The inner journey is clearly more important.
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