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Mars Crossing [Mass Market Paperback]

Geoffrey A. Landis
3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)

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Product details

  • Mass Market Paperback: 434 pages
  • Publisher: Tor Books (Nov 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0812576489
  • ISBN-13: 978-0812576481
  • Product Dimensions: 17 x 10.7 x 3.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,478,476 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A credible space survival yarn 23 Nov 2002
By Joseph Haschka HALL OF FAME TOP 500 REVIEWER
Format:Mass Market Paperback
So, what would you do as the commander of the third manned Mars mission who's discovered, after a back-slappingly successful landing, your ride home is busted and Earth can't send a rescue cab? Wow, talk about the potential for a nasty mood swing!
In MARS CROSSING, this is the dodgy predicament facing John Radkowski and his crew of five (Ryan, Tana, Estrella, Chamlong, and Trevor) in 2028. Their return vehicle, previously landed on Mars to robotically manufacture fuel from the planet's atmosphere for the trip back, didn't function as its instruments indicated. As a matter of fact, it's now just so much scrap metal. The only solution is to travel 4,000 miles to the polar cap and the landing site of the first Mars mission - Brazilian no less! - in 2020 whose crew mysteriously died on the surface. Their return vehicle is presumably still intact and ready to go. Trouble is, it only has room for two pilgrims.
I rarely read space sci-fi because the plots, ETs and technology are so exorbitantly far-fetched. I suspect life will be less fanciful, even in the far future. However, in MARS CROSSING, author Geoffrey Landis, a working NASA scientist, has crafted a solid tale around plausible new technology and the planetary knowledge gained from the Pathfinder and Mars Global Surveyor projects, both of which he was a part. Even the low key villains of the piece, for example the itchy life form that doomed the second Mars manned mission in 2022, are relatively mundane. (At least it wasn't Tinea cruris!)
I especially liked some aspects of the mission's technology, such as the Spectra 10 super-fiber rope, almost as thin as a spider's web, which can hold thousands of pounds, and the super-light Butterfly airplane. Pretty neat stuff!
I did find the composition of the crew slightly improbable.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
Format:Hardcover
If you're looking for a true feel of Mars, you're better off reading the introductory sections of "Red Mars". Landis' planet left me with only a very superficial impression, and for this reader, lacks any real feel of adventure or wonder; perhaps this is his aim, as he is concentrating on the human characters, but these too are pallid and largely uninteresting.
The pace of the plot suffers from interpolated biographical flashbacks, which on occasion have something of interest, but largely get in the way, and although he tries to add depth to his characters, I found none of them sufficiently compelling to care what happened to them. Landis does help us out here, by getting rid of a few of them during the narrative, but I only felt any sort of slight involvement with one of the victims.
This is a lightweight read, enjoyable enough, but suffering from too many coincidental events, and unlikely bootstrappings. Fortunately, it is so structured that you can miss out quite a bit if you dislike the biographies. Don't expect it to surprise or inform you if you are already a Mars buff. I don't know if Arthur C Clarke read the same book as I did, but I would advise you to be wary of the blurbs. "Epic" this isn't.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Standard Mars Adventure 22 Jan 2006
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Landis can be – as one might guess from reading this book – justifiably credited with the title of Mars Expert since he works for the NASA John Glenn Research Centre, has had 150 scientific papers published and carries far more outer space credentials than anyone would have thought necessary.
There is therefore a taste of authenticity in the scientific and hardware aspects.
The novel tells the story of the third Mars Mission, a US-led venture which follows the initial Brazilian landing at the North Pole (where the astronauts mysteriously died) and the second American mission which also ended tragically and ironically when Athlete’s Foot began to infest not only the crew but the machinery.
Now four men and two women (one of them the wife of one of the dead Brazilian astronauts) have reached Mars safely, only to discover that their return craft – which should have been manufacturing fuel and oxygen for the return trip – has been compromised by the Martian environment and is useless.
Their only hope is to travel across Mars to the North Pole where the Brazilian ship might still be capable of getting them back. The only flaw in this plan is that the Jesus Du Sol’ is only large enough to take two of them home.
Comparisons have to be made with Ben Bova’s 1992 ‘Mars’, particularly in terms of structure. the narrative, like Bova’s, is interspersed with events from the pre-Mars lives of the crew.
Although this device is a useful way of putting flesh on the bones of a character, it can be over-used, and here it would I think have been better to have the crew learn of each others’ ‘secrets from the past’ through discovery or conversation.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Authentic Sci-fi 20 May 2010
Format:Hardcover
This story succeeds both because the very human characters pique our interest and because Landis's real scientific background with the US space programme provides an entirely accurate flavour to the science involved. The description of Valles Marineris, for example, throws a sharp focus upon the stupendous scale of the geology on the Red Planet.
Truly this is science fiction of the highest calibre.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 3.4 out of 5 stars  45 reviews
12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Captivating Trek Across Mars 27 Oct 2001
By Kevin Spoering - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
In this near term science fiction novel, circa 2028, Geoffrey Landis gives us an exciting long distance trek across the surface of the planet Mars in a desperate attempt to save themselves after a major equipment malfunction puts them in deadly peril. Two previous Martian missions have both failed. This is an exciting adventure and kept me turning the pages. The plot and character development were excellent, with several flashbacks that brought out the backgrounds and personalities of the astronauts in meticulous detail without becoming monotonous. In some science fiction novels an author sometimes creates too many characters, but here Landis gets it just right. There are many chapters, all very short. Landis is a NASA engineer, so the technical aspects of this novel are superb, and as in all great science fiction the technology takes on a supporting role to the story and the lives of the people involved. This is a well written novel, earthy at times, not stodgy, a joy to read, a brilliant literary work. And you may even learn a little about the real planet Mars, after all, that is what science fiction is all about, a look at future possibilities in an entertaining way, and there is also a surprise ending.
7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An eminently believable space survival yarn 6 April 2002
By Joseph Haschka - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Mass Market Paperback
So, what would you do as the commander of the third manned Mars mission who's discovered, after a back-slappingly successful landing, your ride home is busted and Earth can't send a rescue cab? Wow, talk about the potential for a nasty mood swing!
In MARS CROSSING, this is the dodgy predicament facing John Radkowski and his crew of five (Ryan, Tana, Estrella, Chamlong, and Trevor) in 2028. Their return vehicle, previously landed on Mars to robotically manufacture fuel from the planet's atmosphere for the trip back, didn't function as its instruments indicated. As a matter of fact, it's now just so much scrap metal. The only solution is to travel 4,000 miles to the polar cap and the landing site of the first Mars mission - Brazilian no less! - in 2020 whose crew mysteriously died on the surface. Their return vehicle is presumably still intact and ready to go. Trouble is, it only has room for two pilgrims.
I rarely read space sci-fi because the plots, ETs and technology are so exorbitantly far-fetched. I suspect life will be less fanciful, even in the far future. However, in MARS CROSSING, author Geoffrey Landis, a working NASA scientist, has crafted a solid tale around plausible new technology and the planetary knowledge gained from the Pathfinder and Mars Global Surveyor projects, both of which he was a part. Even the low key villains of the piece, for example the itchy life form that doomed the second Mars manned mission in 2022, are relatively mundane. (At least it wasn't Tinea cruris!)
I especially liked some aspects of the mission's technology, such as the Spectra 10 super-fiber rope, almost as thin as a spider's web, which can hold thousands of pounds, and the super-light Butterfly airplane. Pretty neat stuff!
I did find the composition of the crew slightly improbable. Estrella was the wife of the long-dead Brazilian mission commander. And Trevor's only reason for being there - talk about Dead Weight - was that he won the $1000 per ticket lottery that helped finance the cost of the expedition. Now, really! However, once I got over that credibility hiccup, I enjoyed this book very much and, since it is the author's first novel, much credit is due.
10 of 13 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Science 1, Fiction 0 13 Jun 2002
By Phillip G. Cameron - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Mass Market Paperback
This is a very uninteresting tale of a multi-national team of astronauts who have landed on Mars and then are forced to trek across the planet to try to save themselves. Sound cool? It ain't. The tale of their boring trudge across Mars is broken up by chapters giving us their utterly implausable backstories. The Trevor/Brandon switcheroo is just too stupid to believe. Identical twins, one 18, one 21, (HUH?) buy $60K worth of Win A Trip To Mars lottery tickets. Older twin wins, has a suspicious accident then the younger twin assumes his identity and takes his place on the mission. Where did the boys get $60K for the lottery tickets? Where were their parents? Why didn't the inevitable celebrity spotlight that would result from their winning uncover their sham. Too, too mind-numbingly dumb.
COL Radkowski's tale is also downright silly. Here's a guy who kills someone during a holdup as a teen and ends up commanding the third mission to Mars. Gimme a break.
Then there is Estrela, the Brazilian prostitute turned geologist. It just keeps getting worse from here, believe me.
Comes complete with an absolutely horrible throwaway ending.
Don't buy this book. Stick with Robinson or Bova for your Mars fix.
10 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Finally, a good story on Mars 5 Feb 2001
By Louis T. Heberlein - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
After last summer's horrid "Mission to Mars" and the disappointing "Red Planet," I was hesitant to invest my time in yet another Mars story. Besides the above mentioned movies, I also found Kim Stanley Robinson's Red Mars somewhat disappointing (I have yet to read Ben Bova's recent Mars books), so I began this book with some trepidation.
After the first few chapters of the book I was looking forward to kicking a few of the characters out the air lock; one in particular was very annoying. However, Geoffrey Landis did a good job of making me care for the characters by the end of the book. Landis accomplished this through frequent flashbacks to develop the characters. Some may find this style of writing distracting, but I found it important because I would not have found the tension in the story if I did not care about the characters.
The basic story is very similar to the movie "Red Planet," a team of astronauts fly to Mars in one ship and trek a short distance to a return vehicle only to find it damaged beyond repair. Their only hope is a long distance voyage across most of mars to use another ship as an escape vehicle. The problem: the vehicle cannot hold them all. Despite the lack of "Red Planet's" flesh eating explosive insects and psychotic attack robot, I found the adventure in this "Mars Crossing" much more exciting, largely because it felt real.
If you are a fan of space exploration and have been following the various real missions to Mars (at least the ones that worked), you will be treated to the additional pleasure of having the recent knowledge gained from these missions woven into the story. Science, when presented well, can be an adventure.
5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Leaves much to be desired 11 Mar 2004
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Mass Market Paperback|Verified Purchase
Mars Crossing is very plain. I cannot find anything of real substance other than perhaps having some technical details that a NASA engineer can provide.
The prose is dull, neither creating mental imagery nor giving genuine insight into characters' thoughts or feelings. Perhaps the author should read a little Hemmingway for influence. He also too often interjects events from the characters background that only have some superficial relevance to the story. These events become nothing more than diversions from a tale that doesn't grab your attention in the first place, resulting in a schizophrenic mess.
The author has an appallingly juvenile attitude toward human sexuality. All events of a sexual nature either occur in an emotionless, routine fashion or in inappropriate times. Sex in the novel is both meaningless and ineffective.
Yes, Mars Crossing left too much to be desired. Fortunately, I know of more enjoyable novels. If you find yourself longing for an adventure in an alien environment, I'd recommend Arthur C. Clarke's Rama series. If you want a logical and developing plot, then I'd recommend Asimov's recent (1980s and 1990s) additions to his Foundation series or his robot novels. If you desire bold imagination, then read Greg Bear's Eon and Eternity.
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