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.
‘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