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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Plausible and difficult to put down
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...
Published on 3 Jan 2001

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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Overlong and a little dull
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...
Published on 19 Dec 2004 by Rod Williams


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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 review is from: Mars (Paperback)
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
This review is from: Mars (Paperback)
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. Conversely, the American characters, Waterman, Brumado and Pete Connors, seem to have no character flaws at all.
It's a good novel for a long journey or a rainy afternoon, but pales in comparison with other Mars-related works of the Nineties.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Boring., 4 Sep 2011
By 
Mr. A. J. Clark (Liverpool UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Mars (Paperback)
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.

***SPOILER ALERT ***
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
This review is from: Mars (Paperback)
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.
Recommended.
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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 review is from: Mars (Paperback)
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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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent and believable, 24 Sep 2003
By 
S. Atkin "sdla2" (Oxfordshire, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Mars (Paperback)
This was the first of Ben Bova's novel that I read, and it was so good that I have read several more, and have yet to be disappointed.
The book tells the story of a manned mission to Mars. Crewed by astronauts from different nations, it juggles their competing political, scientific and personal differences well. The outcome of the mission always seems to be in the balance, with disaster waiting just around the corner. This, perhaps, makes the story seem real, as manned spaceflight is fraught with danger.
The unfolding events draw you along as more is discovered about the history of Mars. Bova seems to have done his homework concerning the formation, geology and weather on Mars. All of these factors lending the book a realistic and very plausible feel.
What really makes Bova's books so real though are the characters. They are 3 dimensional, they have physical shape so that you can imagine them. They have personalities. They have a past which is explained, and helps to justify their actions in the present. And you as you get to know them you care about them. Without the characterisation Mars would be a textbook.
Throughly recommended, anyone interested in sci-fi, or space exploration, should read this.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Time well spent, 20 Feb 1999
By A Customer
This review is from: Mars (Paperback)
Over the past five years there seem to have been quite a few novels set on Mars. I have yet to read any of the others but they will have to be good to beat this book. Ben Bova has crafted an excellent tale of the first manned mission to Mars and the wonders the crew face when they arrive on the red planet. The characters are well drawn and the ethos is so good I felt as if I was on Mars too. A number of other interesting ideas crop as the story progresses. First of all the Mars Mission crew find themselves becoming ill. How ironic that the crew find life on Mars only for it to be a lethal virus...you'll have to read the book to find out. I hear that there is a sequel which I assume will build on the enigma the crew discover during their exploration of Mars. I certainly look forward to reading the sequel, meantime I must have a look at all those other Mars novels.
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1.0 out of 5 stars Unimaginative and dull - warning *** spoilers ***, 2 Mar 2014
By 
Mr Bloke (Cambridge UK) - See all my reviews
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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. Or maybe it's the lack of anything remotely interesting in the plot (most interesting plot device: the crew get ill from a very trivial source and this is dragged out for hundreds of pages). Or maybe it's the total lack of technical foresight from Mr Bova: the expedition to Mars is still using film camera, floppy disks and fax machines despite the fact that this was written in 1992 when alternatives to all these technologies were becoming quite obvious.

There is also a back story going on. This is just as dull and bogged down in trivia as the main story.

Good sci-fi books usually have interesting plots, good science, good plot and good foresight - this drivel has nothing to recommend it. I would say that there is a decent novella somewhere in the 550 pages but I'm not convinced there is.

Avoid like a dose of scurvy.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Ahead of his time, 11 Nov 2013
By 
Mr. F. Reid "Frank Reid" (Cumbria, England) - See all my reviews
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In view of current Mars exploration, this story could well be written again in the future as a reality account. It is fiction, and the characters are just that, enjoy it for what it is and hope that one day we can do some of what he writes about.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Excellent space bits, let down by silly soap bits, 9 Oct 2013
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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. But on the whole, the very vivid, evocative descriptions of the hostile Martian landscape made me wonder at the depth and scientific prowess evident in Bova's imagination.
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Mars (Bantam Spectra Book)
Mars (Bantam Spectra Book) by Ben Bova (Mass Market Paperback - 1 Jun 1993)
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