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Mapping Mars: Science, Imagination and the Birth of a World Paperback – 2 Jun 2003


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Product details

  • Paperback: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Fourth Estate; New Ed edition (2 Jun. 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1841156698
  • ISBN-13: 978-1841156699
  • Product Dimensions: 19.2 x 12.8 x 2.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,297,375 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Amazon Review

As Oliver Morton shows in his superb new book, Mapping Mars, Mars has clouds, winds and shorelines. It has river valleys, mountains, volcanoes and even glaciers. Even were it lifeless, it could support life, albeit of an almost unimaginably marginal kind. What Mars lacks is places. There are no "theres" there, nor will there be--until our feet impact its soil.

Oliver Morton has a sense of place and a hunger for Mars, and a thrilling manner of communicating both. His account of our nearest neighbour's history, geology and human potential is exhaustive. Morton touches on just about everything, from soil composition to survival techniques; from Martians to maps (maps, above all: they are his abiding subject, metaphor and organising principle). His artistry is to hide his daunting range of interests under a passionate and gripping human narrative: this book is about what Mars has meant, means and may one day mean for us. And he has a wide-ranging definition of who "we" are. Like a good military historian, Morton knows to pay attention to the poor bloody foot soldiers of science, as well as to the achievements of their celebrated masters. He understands how different the sciences are from each other, and how rivalries between them arise. Further, Morton understands where these people and their institutions sit in the general culture. He understands the crossover between science and science fiction, between space advocates and space fans.

All of which makes Morton's book something more than just "the story of Mars". It is, in addition, an astute study of how we go about exploring our world.--Simon Ings --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Review

‘A wonderful work of intellectual history and a permanent addition to the Mars bookshelf.’ Kim Stanley Robinson, author of the ‘Red Mars’ trilogy and ‘The Years of Rice and Salt’

‘Splendid…the best factual book on Mars that money can buy.’ New Scientist

‘A remarkable book…to read this book is to become infected with a fascinating which I hadn’t realised Mars held.’ James Hamilton-Paterson, London Review of Books

‘A beautifully intelligent meditation on place, and on the paradoxes of place that apply to a place like Mars…it will be around for a long time to come.’ Francis Spufford, Evening Standard

‘Morton’s writing blends romance and rationalism…His treatment strikes a nice balance between the wry journalistic observer and erudite cultural historian. But he finishes with the conviction that the presence of intelligence on Earth means that the futures of the two planets are bound together. Read it, and you’ll be convinced too.’ Jon Turney

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22 of 22 people found the following review helpful By Stu on 14 July 2002
Format: Hardcover
MAPPING MARS
In a previous Amazon review of another Mars-related book I said "This is the only Mars book you'll ever need." Well, I was wrong. If you've an interest in Mars - a serious, interest mind, not just a passing one - then you need this one, too.
At first glance MAPPING MARS looks very dry and "wordy", with only a few pages of illustrations buried in its centre. In all honesty, it's not a title that jumps at you off the bookshelf while you're browsing the astronomy section. But this is a remarkable book in many ways, a real "labour of love" which portrays Mars - perhaps for the first time since Lowell's ground-breaking book - as a real, rounded world, a world with its own unique cultural history, not just a geological and scientific one.
But it's not a "general" book, a book for everyone, oh no. If you want lots of statistics, cold geological field notes and accurate-but-yawn-inducing science background, the look further along the shelf, or further down the Amazon page. This is a book which deals with how Mars has been seen and portrayed by artists, writers, poets and philosophers, not just scientists. It's a deeply thoughtful - and thought-provoking - work, describing how the Red Planet has acquired a unique place in mankind's culture, how - and more importantly, why - it has fascinated and hypnotised us for all these long, yearning centuries. It eloquently and elegantly describes how the desire to conquer Mars mirrors the earlier desire to conquer and tame the Wild West, how we have - consciously or subconsciously - moulded Mars and its landscapes into a new "Wild Frontier" for the 21st century.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By "scribeoflight" on 2 Feb. 2004
Format: Paperback
If Spirit, Opportunity and Mars Express have rekindled (or ignited for the first time) an interest in the red planet, Oliver Morton's excellent book will go a long way to satisfying your curiosity. Intelligent and lucid throughout, this wide-ranging study takes in everything from the latest theories of Martian geological change to the novels of Kim Stanley Robinson, and is written in a crisp, agreeably characterful style (Morton is clearly passionate about his subject). On every page there is an eye-opening detail or unexpected insight, and we are left with a greatly expanded sense of wonder for our nearest planetary neighbour.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Stephen A. Haines HALL OF FAME on 1 Feb. 2006
Format: Hardcover
"There's a world on my wall", writes Morton. Distant, remote, mysterious, it has been the subject of speculation, invention, misconception and investigation. Mars has provoked almost as much interest as our moon. Morton traces the early views of what this distant planet might represent and how a generation of human probing has revealed. It's a world of extremes, he declares. The highest mountains in the solar system. Immense chasms that might indicate massive water flows or something else not found in earthly canyons. The atmosphere is thin and cold, but can sustain global dust storms. In short, everything we learn about Mars raises more questions than provides answers. The world on his wall is one of several attempts to map this remote place and characterise it. Morton's account is informative and compelling as he presents what we have learned and the people who have provided the information.
Morton shows how the struggle to understand Mars is faced with limitations. The usual path of comparison with features on Earth prove feeble and vague. Antarctica is one model, the Hawaiian volcanoes another. Neither fits sufficiently to provide valid comparisons. Mars, he urges, must be understood within its own framework. That implies the picture must be built up from a fresh foundation. The foundation has only been sketched by the various probes sent to Mars during the past generation. The interpreters of data transmitted from fly-by probes, landers and surface rovers are the heroes of Morton's account.
Mapping Mars had its origins in Berlin in 1830 when two astronomers sought to establish the length of the Martian day.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Stephen A. Haines HALL OF FAME on 18 Jan. 2006
Format: Paperback
"There's a world on my wall", writes Morton. Distant, remote, mysterious, it has been the subject of speculation, invention, misconception and investigation. Mars has provoked almost as much interest as our moon. Morton traces the early views of what this distant planet might represent and how a generation of human probing has revealed. It's a world of extremes, he declares. The highest mountains in the solar system. Immense chasms that might indicate massive water flows or something else not found in earthly canyons. The atmosphere is thin and cold, but can sustain global dust storms. In short, everything we learn about Mars raises more questions than provides answers. The world on his wall is one of several attempts to map this remote place and characterise it. Morton's account is informative and compelling as he presents what we have learned and the people who have provided the information.
Morton shows how the struggle to understand Mars is faced with limitations. The usual path of comparison with features on Earth prove feeble and vague. Antarctica is one model, the Hawaiian volcanoes another. Neither fits sufficiently to provide valid comparisons. Mars, he urges, must be understood within its own framework. That implies the picture must be built up from a fresh foundation. The foundation has only been sketched by the various probes sent to Mars during the past generation. The interpreters of data transmitted from fly-by probes, landers and surface rovers are the heroes of Morton's account.
Mapping Mars had its origins in Berlin in 1830 when two astronomers sought to establish the length of the Martian day.
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