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Mars [Paperback]

Ben Bova
3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (25 customer reviews)

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Book Description

7 Jan 1993
To the harsh landscape of Sol's fourth planet travel thirteen astronauts, the best scientists from eleven nations, on a history-making voyage into the unknown. The international crew of the Mars mission have spent nine months in space, crossing 100 million kilometres, to reach the last great frontier. Their voyage is fraught with disputes, both personal and political, and their time on Mars limited to 'footprints and flags'; yet while there they will come face-to-face with the most incredible and shocking discovery of all.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 576 pages
  • Publisher: Hodder Paperbacks; paperback / softback edition (7 Jan 1993)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0450577171
  • ISBN-13: 978-0450577178
  • Product Dimensions: 17.6 x 11 x 4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (25 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 961,032 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


The science fiction author who will have the greatest effect on the world. (Ray Bradbury)

A masterful storyteller (Vector)

Fun, thought-provoking, pacy and stylish . . . Gives a good read while turning your eyes to what might be in the not so distant future, just like Clarke and Asimov used to do so well. (SFX on VENUS)

A splendid book . . . of his many books, Mars must be the most important. (Arthur C. Clarke)

Vivid, poetic and wonder-provoking. (Foundation on JUPITER)

Book Description

The most prescient book about space travel ever written, by one of the world's best science fiction writers.

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First Sentence
"Touchdown." It was said in Russian first and then immediately repeated in English. Read the first page
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Plausible and difficult to put down 3 Jan 2001
By A Customer
This is a very well informed book that manages to avoid getting too bogged down in detail and is utterly believable as a result. I am far more interested in science fact than science fiction but Mars is a neat glimpse into the near future based on what we already know. One of the other reviewers seemed to think that the book painted a somewhat unambitious picture of Mars exploration - but I think that is precisely Bova's point, in striving for plausibility he creates a mission that is governed far more by politics than by science. An excellent read that I found difficult to put down. Also, contrary to the view of a previous reviewer, as a Mars expert myself I thought that this was by far the most accurate account of a mission to Mars I have read.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Overlong and a little dull 19 Dec 2004
Released during a period which saw a brief flourish of Mars-related releases, Bova's novel breaks no new ground, and invites inevitable comparison with Kim Stanley Robinson's infinitely superior 'Red Mars' published in the same year.
Bova's dual timeline structure - which returns to examine the former lives of various crew members - does little to add depth to the characterisations.
In fairness to Bova, the central character, Jamie Waterman, is an interesting creation; a geologist of Amerindian descent, whose parents have abandoned their roots in favour of a middle-class American lifestyle. Jamie has rediscovered his heritage through his grandfather and now has been selected to be part of the first team to set foot on Mars.
The science is well-researched, the political aspects are a clear and important part of the novel, but Bova fails in giving us any real feeling of Mars itself. On a first reading of Bova's 'Mars' one is left with nothing but the impression that it looks a little bit like New Mexico.
Had this novel been shorter, one might not be so critical, but in its 566 pages, much is redundant and other issues are dealt with peremptorily, such as the Jewish biologist Ilona Mater's reaction to the Russians.
Bova also, perhaps unintentionally, gives us rather caricatured characters from outside the US. The Austrian geologist - whom Jamie replaces on the mission - is depicted a sexist misogynist egomaniac. The English medical officer, Tony Reed, is initially a cowardly manipulator whose only aim seems to be to bed an unattainable female crewmember. He, in another Hallmark moment, ultimately faces his fears and saves the day.
The Russians are standard fictional Russians, efficient and humourless, but who display a more human face when disaster strikes.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Boring. 4 Sep 2011
If you want to read a good Novel about Mars then Kim Stanley Robinson's Red/Green/Blue Mars trilogy is in a different league. Although Robinson's books contain one or two absurdities, they are nothing compared to Bova.

Astronauts on Mars develop scurvy in an unbelievably short time because a bottle of vitamin pills becomes spoiled by accident - this despite a balanced diet with plenty of orange juice. The doctor is unaffected because he has his own personal supply of pills!

While Robinson has plenty to say about Mars, and has apparently studied it in depth, Bova merely repeats things that you probably know already. Also, Robinson has interesting ideas, Bova has none. The astronauts find life, but we are told nothing about its biology. The main character suspects he has seen an artificial formation, but we never find out what it actually is. So all we are left with is the relationships between the characters, which is not enough to make a satisfying SF novel.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Mars ahoy ! 16 Aug 2000
Mars is Ben Bova's latest epic near-future sci-fi novel and, while not being his best work to date, is well worth a gander.
The plot has been done a thousand times before but never with as much attention to detail in terms of the requirements of such a huge mission itself, even down to the crew selection process. The characters are well-developed and are treated sympathetically, with the focus on last-minute crewman and geologist Jamie Waterman, of American Indian descent. Good to see a Russian in charge too !
However, Bova's insistence on continously dredging-up Waterman's Navaho past and his continous Mars-Arizona parallels does make the plot a little tedious at times. This aside, Bova is not overly-fantastical in his plotmaking although this is by no means a completely dull book, just a tad too slow-moving in parts.
Bova's Mars is perhaps crying out for a follow-up (he has recently written a similar epic about Venus) which could benefit from a faster-moving plot following the initial crew's ground-breaking discoveries.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A supremely satisfying read 29 Jan 2000
By A Customer
This is a classic. An unputdownable page turner. I read it rather than going into work. I know little of space travel but couldn't care less if everything Bova wrote was totally inaccurate. The idea of a fictional novel is to establish its own world and its own set of principles. This novel is tuned to a perfectly believable pitch. And it's so real you feel as though you want to help fund the first manned mission to Mars, because you hope to God it'll be as thought provoking (and as exciting) as this is. From the moment Dr.Waterman cried out in Navajo to the collapse of the mission I was hooked. Give credit where credit is due - this is all that a good read should be.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
1.0 out of 5 stars Unimaginative and dull - warning *** spoilers ***
It takes a lot of skill to make a book about the first manned expedition to Mars so boring. Maybe it's the fact that the characters are 1 dimensional racial stereotypes. Read more
Published 4 months ago by Mr Bloke
5.0 out of 5 stars Ahead of his time
In view of current Mars exploration, this story could well be written again in the future as a reality account. Read more
Published 8 months ago by Mr. F. Reid
4.0 out of 5 stars Excellent space bits, let down by silly soap bits
Really enjoyed, pretty much any chapter set on Mars was ace, any chapter to do with main characters conniving ex or politics back on Earth considerably less so. Read more
Published 9 months ago by Chris
2.0 out of 5 stars Another typo-ridden Kindle release
The Kindle edition of this rigorously researched book is not so rigorously formatted. There are typos and spelling mistakes on every other page making it look like it was simply... Read more
Published 9 months ago by Enchirion
5.0 out of 5 stars Enjoyable read
Really enjoyed this, and the rest of the books in the series! Good character development and not too niche sci-fi.
Published 11 months ago by S Dadswell
5.0 out of 5 stars Simplistic yet complex
I read this engrossed. The story was simple but the author has drilled down into the characters really well and I look forward the next one.
Published 12 months ago by Mr. A. Dhanani
3.0 out of 5 stars It's....OK
The story of the first manned mission to Mars. The multi-cultural expedition runs into various problems and there's a grand finale where the expedition is saved from an unhappy... Read more
Published 16 months ago by scratchetta
4.0 out of 5 stars Great read
Having read his Moon novel some time ago I thought I would try this and can say it's a very detailed and believable premise. You really can believe you're on Mars. Read more
Published 18 months ago by Mr John M Wing
3.0 out of 5 stars Ok
Just finished reading Mars.
It was a good read, but not as good as other reviews make out imho.
Published on 21 Aug 2011 by Moofo
5.0 out of 5 stars Captivating
I imagine that the dusty ball of rock that we call Mars will remain the subject of stories until we have actually explored the planet in reality. Read more
Published on 30 Jan 2008 by Mr. G. Battle
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