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How to Live on Mars: A Trusty Guidebook to Surviving and Thriving on the Red Planet [Paperback]

Robert Zubrin
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
RRP: 8.43
Price: 8.34 & FREE Delivery in the UK on orders over 10. Details
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Book Description

15 Mar 2009
Thinking about moving to mars?

Well, why not? Mars, after all, is the planet that holds the greatest promise for human colonization. But why speculate about the possibilities when you can get the real scientific scoop from someone who’s been happily living and working there for years? Straight from the not-so-distant future, this intrepid pioneer’s tips for physical, financial, and social survival on the Red Planet cover:

• How to get to Mars (Cycling spacecraft offer cheap rides, but the smell is not for everyone.)
• Choosing a spacesuit (The old-fashioned but reliable pneumatic Neil Armstrong style versus the sleek new—but anatomically unforgiving—elastic “skinsuit.”)
• Selecting a habitat (Just like on Earth: location, location, location.)
• Finding a job that pays well and doesn’t kill you (This is not a metaphor on Mars.)
• How to meet the opposite sex (Master more than forty Mars-centric pickup lines.)

With more than twenty original illustrations by Michael Carroll, Robert Murray, and other renowned space artists, How to Live on Mars seamlessly blends humor and real science, and is a practical and exhilarating guide to life on our first extraterrestrial home.

Frequently Bought Together

How to Live on Mars: A Trusty Guidebook to Surviving and Thriving on the Red Planet + The Case for Mars: The Plan to Settle the Red Planet and Why We Must + Mining The Sky: Untold Riches From The Asteroids, Comets, And Planets (Helix Book)
Price For All Three: 25.65

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Product details

  • Paperback: 205 pages
  • Publisher: Three Rivers Press (15 Mar 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0307407187
  • ISBN-13: 978-0307407184
  • Product Dimensions: 19.8 x 13 x 1.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 447,903 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
I was set to read a non-fiction book on space/mars and by lucky chance I picked this one from the list. It is nothing like the text book I had imagined as non-fictional.
It is based a few hundred years in the future, when Mars has been newly populated. The first part is a humorous guide for survival and success on mars for someone emigrating from earth. It covers getting there, choosing a space suit, choosing transport, setting up habitations and how to create and generate all the necessities for life from the Martian environment, both for everyday living and in emergency. One failing of this book is that it does not clarify on which technologies exist and which are still theory, although I am sure it is all sound chemistry, as its written by the president of the Mars Society. All the way through it includes small facts, problems and how they have been overcome etc about a manned mission to mars, and interspersed with humorous writing.
The second part of the book focuses on industries that could run on and from mars once it is inhabited, as well as a section on terraforming the planet.
Throughout it is an entertaining read and I thoroughly enjoyed the book, and I would recommend it to anyone with an interest in mars.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Just a bit of fun. 22 Feb 2013
By Rich M
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I liked the book on how to survive on mars. Fairly easy to read and understand. But you never know. This book could just one day save your life...
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 3.6 out of 5 stars  44 reviews
33 of 36 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Hundreds of OCR Errors, poor value, avoid this Kindle Edition 21 April 2009
By Tom S. - Published on
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Bob Zubrin really knows his stuff when it comes to the Red Planet. And here he gives us a somewhat tongue-in-cheek, projected look at the guidebook he would write for the wanna-be Mars immigrant of the late 21st century. That's cool. And it's fun and informative.

But that's the end of the good news. Here's the bad news.

1. This work is extremely short. It is barely more than novella-length. It is about half of the length of a "normal" best-selling novel. That's word count, not pages - the print edition must have pretty big type. And fully 5% of the "book" is a bullet list of the topics! The market value of a locked digital copy of a novella-length work is about $2, not $10. So this is a rip off in the basic sense of content-per-dollar.

2. The Kindle Edition is a trashed OCR scan that borders on unreadable and will drive you nuts. Starting halfway through the first chapter, a few random words or phrases in each sentence are in italics. I can't get my REVIEW to emulate THAT, so instead I'LL SHOW you by inserting some WORDS IN capitals TO emulate the problem. Don't YOU think this IS really irritating? IF it doesn'nt BOTHER YOU yet, then you haven't SEEN enough of IT and you'll just have TO take my WORD FOR it, it IS really annoying.

So how do I know it's OCR? Smoking gun: part of a caption reads "A/lost people look better in...". Classic and obvious OCR glitch: a flyspeck in the M caused it to mis-read "Most people.."; once it saw the first hump in the M as an A, it was lost in morphospace trying to assign some char values to the rest of the M! There are hundreds of other cases, in many of them it is quite difficult to work out what the actual text is supposed to be.

I have no idea why they did this stupid book trick. Clearly Zubrin did NOT type this on a Selectric and mail them a hardcopy typescript! Clearly they HAD a perfectly good digital copy to start with! So it took real incompetence to decide to put the print edition through OCR to get this. But then to not PROOFREAD IT AT ALL? If anyone had EVER read the edition released here, it could not have been released. Because it is absolute trash.

So it was not proofread - just OCR'd and heaved out the wire. Well, there are millions of Americans recently unemployed. And IMO everyone involved in producing this garbage Kindle Edition should be added to that roll call, at once.


Zubrin wrote a good little book. And I'm a big Zubrin fan. In fact, some years back I met him in a social context that allowed me to have a treasured one-on-one conversation with him. But here I'm REVIEWING A COMMERCIAL PRODUCT AT A GIVEN PRICE. My review asserts my considered opinion that THIS PRODUCT AT THIS PRICE IS AN ABSOLUTELY TERRIBLE VALUE. Not that "we shouldn't go to Mars", or "Zubrin is terrible", or any other thing you want to impute other than what I just asserted. If you read the KINDLE VERSION OF THE BOOK and don't agree, by all means comment and/or post your own review, and explain your position. But spare us all from a hate campaign of "not helpful" votes from people who already made up their minds [if you already made up your mind about a book before you read a review and thus were not looking for 'help' then a not helpful vote is a LIE that pollutes the Amazon community!] and just want to "punish" speech they don't agree with, and from a stream of insulting comments that misrepresent what my review says.
27 of 29 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Pure platinum-group metals - Classic Zubrin, only more so. 4 Dec 2008
By Eli J. Harman - Published on
Once again, Zubrin delights and informs like no other. This concise, easy-reading, laugh-out-loud, little volume is packed with more solid scientific and engineering information about Mars, Mars exploration and settlement than even "The Case for Mars." Whereas the latter was informative and interesting, but fairly straight-laced, Zubrin here takes a decidedly more lighthearted approach, creating a fictional, early 22nd century guide to surviving and thriving on the new frontier.

As usual, Zubrin's strongest suit is his ability to turn his caustic wit against the foolish, timid, bureaucratic, cowardly, thoughtless paralysis which presently cripples the aerospace establishment, and indeed, Zubrin suggests, the entirety of terrestrial "civilization" (if what we have down here still merits the term.) Perhaps my favorite example is the following passage detailing water reclamation from the exhaust of a space suit's methanol/oxygen fuel-cell (used to provide electric power) in order to extend the endurance of Martians on EVA.

"The water you obtain will include a significant quantity of carbon dioxide in solution, which is why NASA has banned systems that plumb fuel-cell wastewater directly back to the suit canteen. However, despite the claimed medical problem, it is a fact that in the twentieth century, many people chose to drink carbonated water as a matter of preference."

I do not hold with those who regard Zubrin's political asides as an interruption of an otherwise interesting presentation of scientific or engineering information. Zubrin's ability to decisively skewer folly of all sorts, technical, medical, political, social, is the primary reason that he has always impressed me, and in my opinion, constitutes the single best feature of this particular book.

Zubrin's brutal and sustained critique of bureaucracy toward the end of "How to Live on Mars" is positively brilliant. If it doesn't make you yearn to give up the soul-destroying stagnation and conformity of Earth to live on a planet full of misfits, outcasts and rugged individualists, then there's just simply no trace of idealism, romance, nobility or heroism left in your black, flabby, little heart.

I'm pleased to see Zubrin take such a radical turn, or maybe simply to more openly embrace the radicalism which he has never been able to entirely prevent from seeping into his work. This one is not going to win Zubrin any friends in high places, but I suspect it will contribute to the immortality he achieves when the Martians (descended from pioneers who will make the first crossings in Mars-Direct inspired spacecraft) finally throw off their tyrannical Earthling overlords and establish a truly civilized branch of humanity for the first time in far too long.
13 of 15 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Mixes Science and humor. 3 Dec 2008
By Stephen A. Lajoie - Published on
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Supposedly written by a Robert Zubrin born on Mars in the year 2071, when there are Martian settlements, this book mixes humor and science fact in a guidebook format.

Chapters include:
* How to Get to Mars
* How to Choose a Spacesuit
* How to Choose Your First Ground Rover
* How to Choose Your Homestead
* Choosing the Right Technology for Your Hab
* How to Save Money on Radiation Protection
* How to Stay Alive in the Desert
* How to Make Anything
* How to Grow Food (That is Actually Edible)
* How to get a Job that Pays Well and Doesn't Kill You
* How to Fly on Mars.
* How to Invest Your Savings
* How to Make Discoveries That Will Make you Famous
* How to Profit from the Terraforming Program
* How to be a Social Success on Mars
* How to Avoid Bureaucratic Persecution.

The book is an enjoyable, easy and quick read. You need not have a physics or engineering degree to understand it (I have both) and it is written for the layperson, which chapters with more technical content having warnings. I smirked at the jabs at NASA but ridicule is not my thing.

I'm not sure the last two chapters had much to add to the book. For example, in the social success chapter, the pick up lines were funny, but don't really say much about Mars. I would have rather had much more technical content than humor, but the book is what it is; and what it is is a book that everyone can enjoy.
10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Duplicative and not very funny 18 April 2009
By railmeat - Published on
How to Live on Mars is yet another book on the topic by Robert Zubrin. He is an aerospace engineer who wrote The Case for Mars, which describes his Mars Direct plan. That is a fine book and makes a good argument for why his plan is the best one.

How to Live on Mars revisits the same points as The Case for Mars in a a very different format. Unfortunately there is no new information here. The format is of a veteran Mars settler advising a novice before they ship out to Mars. There is a lot of thinly disguised libertarian political polemic. This is not done very well. The author seems to be attempting humor. The political outlook is extreme. It is possible that any settlement on Mars will be a very "wild west" sort of libertarian enterprise, but the author does not really argue why that would be the case, or that it is better then any alternatives.

There are several places were the author describes how the new settler can obtain stolen goods from a supposed NASA agency on Mars. He does this with a approving tone. He does not explain why it is worthwhile to pursue a settlement where one must steal to survive. In another section he suggests the prospective settler go into business selling hyped up property that will be available on Mars once the terraforming succeeds. He admits that this would be fraud, since no one can tell if the terraforming will work, or what the results would be. The reader is basically told the settling on Mars is only viable for criminals.

I would love to see human exploration and even settlement of Mars. This text does not advance that case at all. Zubrin should have stopped with The Case for Mars.
6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Science meets humor, a must read for future Martian emigrants! 5 Dec 2008
By Heather - Published on
This book was a delightfully enjoyable read. Written with clever mix of humor, anecdotes, ridiculing stagnant status quo, and science in a wonderful blend.

Written from the point of view of a hypothetical early 22nd century Martian as a guide to getting to, living on, and living a happy and successful life on Mars for those brave and adventurous Earthlings wishing to make the trip to Mars.

While having the humor and straight talk that make this book such an easy and enjoyable read it still has the science and engineering data that a new Martian (or anyone interested in Mars) should know. The technical sections are clearly labeled for those wishing to simply skim those sections, which also increases it's readability as you decide how much of the technical sections you wish to read with each siting.
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