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on 26 April 2016
Subtitled, The Plan to Settle the Red Planet and Why We Must, this extraordinary work by Robert Zubrin, with Richard Wagner, is an invaluable resource for anyone interested in Mars either as an observer or as, in my case, a writer of science fiction.
In researching for my novel about Mars, I’ve read a great deal of the literature both in books and online. Zubrin’s book has proved the most thought-provoking, and the most inspirational. An aerospace engineer and writer, he’s also the founder of the Mars Society and a driving force behind Mars Direct, a proposal designed to produce real reductions in the cost and complexity of such a mission.
The book is, in some senses, a technical manual for creating a project to get to Mars and colonise the planet. There is fascinating history revealed here. But, primarily, there is much technical detail of the chemistry, physics, biology and engineering involved in the process of reaching and staying on the red planet.
He is sceptical of the recent projects currently undertaken by NASA and singularly frustrated by the small-minded attitudes of the politicians in the USA who dictate the what and the where of space exploration. He is also scathing of some of the ideas put forward by contemporaries. But he backs up his concerns with evidence and rational argument.
I’m no scientist, though I have a more than average interest in space and the science of space exploration. I read, and took copious notes from, this book in order to be as technically informed about matters Martian to allow me to write a credible story set on the red planet. The content has certainly allowed me to feel I’ve done that, when taken together with the other research I’ve undertaken. This book, however, provides more than mere facts and formulae. It’s full of ideas about how certain difficult tasks might be achieved using current technology and knowledge, and how others may be managed in the future using developing technology.
For the amateur, the person without deep science training, this is not an easy book. In parts it describes processes and chemical reactions that will be well outside the experience of such readers. But the information is given in such a manner that, with a little application, the gist, if not an absolute detailed understanding, can be gained.
As part of my research, I also watched the recent movie, The Martian, as I’d heard its science was very good. It was entertaining, certainly, but some of the science was clearly not as good as it could have been. Since I’d employed certain aspects of folklore about Mars as elements of the story I’ve already produced in first draft form, I’m very glad I undertook this additional research prior to editing. Some of those elements I took as factual turn out to be based on fallacies. No matter; rewriting is an essential part of any fiction writer’s skill. And I shall now rewrite with the knowledge and confidence of an informed storyteller as a result of reading this excellent book.
There is passion as well as erudition in this lengthy read. The author clearly knows what he is talking about and has a deep understanding of the technical issues as well as the social aspects of colonising a distant world. He debunks certain fondly-held theories, explains why others are flawed and inoperable, and presents his own solutions to the many problems in terms that are credible and inspiring. If you have any interest in the only other planet in our solar system that may be made capable of sustaining complex life, I suggest you give this book a go. I’m very pleased I did.
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on 5 September 2016
I'm reasonably interested in astronomy and in space travel. In a discussion on a website (can't remember which) about future space travel someone strongly recommended me to read this book, so I bought it. I'm glad I did! Before reading it I had the impression that, ok, here I will get some information about how a travel to Mars could be accomplished and why we should pick Mars instead of Venus or returning to the Moon.

What I didn't know was just how much more attractive Mars is than other destinations within the Solar System. The book is in this respect amazing. Filled with facts Zubrin demonstrates not just how expenses can be massively cut back; why we don't need NASA's highly expensive "monster plans"; but also how necessary it is to travel to Mars and how much human civilization will gain by doing so.

If you are interested in space travel and the future I strongly urge you to buy and read this book.
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on 10 December 2013
An excellent introduction - if a little optimistic given the current state of technology. I like the view that we can get there for $50 billion.

However, he makes a good case for why we need to get to Mars. It is written very much from the perpective of why America needs this and is currently the only country which can get there. But even the updated version does not take account of the fact that the USA could probably not make the attempt given the financial state of that country.

The only way it will happen though is via another space race - as in the race to the Moon where money was no object. The only way that will happen is after the Chinese annex the Moon in the late 2020s.

That may wake up America but I somewhat doubt it. The Red Planet will eventually be the Yellow one.

The book is a little technical in parts but not to a degree where the average person could not follow the reasoning or understand what is being said. The tone can be somewhat 'evangelical' but he believes what he is saying so can be forgiven.
2 people found this helpful
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on 25 February 2014
Written by Robert Zubrin. A very detailed technical treatise on the mission details for the Direct Mars proposition.
Classic scientific handbook on how to get to Mars without having to spend billions of dollars and wait another twenty years for NASA to wake their ideas up and actually achieve something worthwhile !
For people who are really into space travel, and colonization, and who have the necessary interest and intelligence to understand the book in it`s widest scope.
Thoroughly good read and full of common sense and accurate calculation.
Recommended to all those who pass the minimum criteria of paragraph three !
P.Andrews
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on 9 December 2014
Now this makes for a very, very interesting read. If you have an interest in astronomy and like me have been questioning why aren't we colonising Mars then read this book.

It completely contradicts those doubtors who insist that due to thin atmosphere and relatively low gravity we should be trying to colonise the hot enough to boil lead Venus instead.
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on 27 March 2013
An excellent guide to the means of settling on Mars, but gets a bit long-winded in the second part of the book when dealing with American space politics over the last 50 years. Whilst the author has made a terrific and persistent effort to push Mars colonisation onto the American space agenda it may be left to the likes of "Mars One" to turn the dream into reality in the near future. Nevertheless it is full of information as to how the dream could be implemented.
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on 22 November 2016
Excellent
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on 27 March 2018
OK.
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on 13 November 2016
Brilliant insight, mr zubrin is a genius!
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on 27 August 2013
If you have an interest into anything astronomy or sci-fi then this is a must read. It will however leave you with the question, why are we not doing this?
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