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The Sunborn: Martian Race Book 2 (The Martian Race)

The Sunborn: Martian Race Book 2 (The Martian Race) [Kindle Edition]

Gregory Benford
3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)

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Product Description


'Benford is a scientist who writes with verve and insight not only about black holes and cosmic strings but about human desires and fears' NEW YORK TIMES BOOK REVIEW

Book Description

A page-turning new SF thriller from a multiple award-winning author.

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 524 KB
  • Print Length: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Gateway (29 Oct 2012)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B009OK2B1I
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #439,515 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
3.0 out of 5 stars Not a classic 11 Sep 2013
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
This is an ok book but not as good as The Martian Race and at times seemed empty of story.
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3 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Sunborn 2 July 2006
By J. Otto
An absorbing read. Benford's exciting speculation is backed in hard science. He draws on his knowledge as a professor of physics and weaves it through the tale with great effect. And his characters are engaging and do full justice to this very good novel
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 3.6 out of 5 stars  16 reviews
10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Benford's Been Better 16 April 2005
By James Tepper - Published on
This is a sequel of sorts to Benford's "The Martian Race" (which was great). Unlike many sequels, however, it is irrelevant whether you've read the preceding novel or not. It uses two of the main characters from the "Martian Race" and obviously takes place in the same universe but that's about it.

It is an interesting twist on the "first contact" theme with not one but three new alien species discovered and communicated with. There is a tie-in to the "The Martian Race" at the very end that is not much of a suprise, having been pretty well telegraphed by the middle of the short novel.

Benford is a great SF writer, as well as a talented physicist and author. He is and has been one of the best authors of hard SF since the publication of "Timescape" some 23 years ago. But this one is a little disappointing. The human (and alien) characters are not well developed and are mostly flat and irrelevant placeholders to this plot-based novel. There is no real suspense and the hard SF is minimal. Of course, none of this will stop me from rushing out and getting the next Benford novel as soon as it's published, since he is one of my favorite SF authors, interesting and tremendously talented. Everyone can have an off-day. This was one of his.
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A wonderful story line 11 Mar 2005
By Harriet Klausner - Published on
Two decades have passed since married astronaut scientists Julia and Viktor landed on Mars and discovered we are not alone when they found the living huge Marsmat (see THE MARTIAN RACE). Over the subsequent years, they learned a lot about the strange, anaerobic natives to include their seemingly weird abilities involving magnetism.

However, a new exploration opportunity has surfaced with a chance to go to Pluto, which has suddenly for no reason has begun heating up though still way below zero Fahrenheit and data shows the forming of an atmosphere. Julia and Viktor leap at the prospects to be part of the expedition exploring the coldest known planet in the solar system. Shockingly, a previous expedition led by Captain Shanna has found life, the humongous intelligent zand, on the frozen orb that can communicate with humans. The zand warn that the dangerous mechanical Darksiders are coming on "iceteroids," from the Oort cloud.

This sequel contains a wonderful story line on the vast possibilities of alternate life forms in the solar system. However, the human members of the cast seem shallow. Julia and Viktor have not seemed to have aged in spite of the harshness of their work although twenty years have passed and can do no wrong. Shanna at times is a genius and at other moments a jealous chick lit bimbo instead of a courageous brilliant explorer (the next generation Julia). Other characters are one dimensional unless they happen to be a Marsmat, a zand, or the Darksiders. The scientific discussion that underlies the novel is superb and highlights Gregory Benford's ability to simplify without dumbing down extremely complex theories and do it inside a strong story line that overcomes the prime players.

Harriet Klausner
8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars very different aliens 14 Mar 2005
By W Boudville - Published on
Benford continues his earlier book, "The Martian Race", with this novel. If you liked the characters and logic in that book, you will probably be attracted to this. Rather didactic in parts, with schematics of, say, the heliopause at the outer solar system. These diagrams would not be out of place in a science text. Benford actively tries to educate his readers. At times this leads to dry passages in the text.

Did you know that Benford's research area is plasma physics? He parlays that expertise into envisioning vast alien intelligences that are basically sparse plasmas. A very evocative image. Along these lines, he makes a valiant effort to portray truly alien minds interacting with each other, and with humans. The effort is commendable. His aliens are not humans dressed up in funny skins, acting as aliens, which is what a lot of science fiction depictions end up as.

But I am not sure that he truly succeeds. While yes, the aliens do come across as different, I found the resultant read to be rather dull and sterile.
10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Life Beyond the Heliopause 2 Aug 2006
By Arthur W. Jordin - Published on
Format:Mass Market Paperback
The Sunborn (2005) is the second SF novel in the Martian Race series. In the previous novel, Julia and Marc find life in the vented caverns under Gusev crater. The Marsmat is a symbiotic collection of single-celled organisms closely related to archaebacteria. When the ERV tests failed for the second and final time, Julia and Viktor volunteered to remain behind while Marc and Raoul returned in the Airbus nuclear vehicle.

In this novel, Shanna Axelrod is the daughter of John Axelrod, The Man Who Sold Mars and the organizer of the Consortium. Born to Axelrod's second wife, she had conflicts with the two later wives and finally moved back in with her mother.

Shanna had a long standing admiration for Clyde Tombaugh, the man who discovered the planet Pluto. When the ISA announced their intentions to send a ship to investigate strange changes in the Pluto/Charon system, Shanna was determined to become one of the crew members.

She was already a working astronaut in the commercial fleet with biologist/medic training. Although she was well qualified, so were other candidates. She called on her father for aid and he named her as the Consortium selection for the Proserphina crew. When the Captain of the Proserphina was later killed in an accident, Shanna became his replacement.

Julia and Viktor are being continually pressured by the quirks of the Consortium. A new manager is sent from the Moon to coordinate the Martian science effort. She is very abrasive and both Julia and Viktor try to avoid her. They sneak out on an excursion to Vent R, a newly discovered pressure relief vent from the Marsmat caverns beneath the surface.

Shanna discovers intelligent life on Pluto and rides the lander down to establish contact with the creatures. During a long conversation with the Old One, she learns that the zand are being killed off by the Darksiders. After a second landing, she discovers that the Darksiders are machines sent by some things beyond Pluto.

Shanna uses a jury-rigged weapon to repel an assault by the machines, but they still damage the lander and it crashes. The Darksiders force their way aboard the ship, but soon withdraw after repairing the damaged hull. Shanna almost freezes to death.

Axelrod sends a new fusion drive vessel to Mars and arranges for Julia and Viktor to take it to Pluto. Even before they arrive, Shanna has strong aversions to their presence. She is particularly envious of Julia, a fellow biologist with a well established reputation.

This novel incorporates some speculations concerning life within and between the stars. It even ties in the Marsmat with the huge Beings dwelling beyond Pluto. However, conflict results from the mutual ignorance of various lifeforms.

Highly recommended for Benford fans and for anyone else who enjoys tales of space exploration, scientific inquiries and strange Beings within the Oort Cloud.

-Arthur W. Jordin
10 of 13 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars L:ost In Space...the Sequeal 24 May 2005
By Avid Reader - Published on
I have really tried with Benford - COSM, JUPITER PROJECT, the misnamed MARTIAN RACE. But this is it. I judge a story by its characters, plot and writing and SUNBORN flunks all three. As usual, everyone is two-dimensional - aliens and humans - more caricature than character. Their speech sounds like something from a scifi book - "We are the OGOGO from the planet NCHYDHH and we come in peace, blah blah" The Russian still does not use indefinite articles after 20 years and comes off sounding like a cave man. Benford is at his best when describing modern scientific theory but when he turns to intimacy - family chats, friendship, romantic sweet talk - dialogue becomes clumsy and amateurish.

The plot? We mmet the Adam & Eve of the Red Planet, a pair of astronauts who have become media stars for a mega corporation. The author's knowledge of economics seems limited to supposed back room chatter and the evils of BIG business. A company rep arrives and suddenly the two are sent to...Pluto(!) and meet none other than the daughter of the CEO(!!) who has discovered alien life forms(!!!). How many ways can you say "cliche"?

Here it breaks down completely. Benford may be a whiz in the hard sciences but when it comes to notions of consciousness and intelligence it's a disaster. The aliens hail from the Oort Region beyond the Solar System and here's the rub: Their speech (presented in < >) is anthropomorphic reflecting human needs, desires and psychology yet they do not possess the neurological basis or evolution for such attitudes. No creature in the galaxy can approximate the human condition without sensory input like humans. Anyway, a lot of nothing goes on and the ships return to Mars for more meandering and musings.

Perhaps it is Benford's zeal for scientific accuracy that has prevented him from being a visionary writer. His stories are rooted firmly in the here and now but sometimes authors need to spread their wings and soar on flights of imagination.
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