Mars

Mars

by Ben Bova

The crew battle an alien landscape and earthbound bureaucrats.

Heading toward a chasm over 10 times the Arizona Grand Canyon, they make a shocking find.

Read the Book "Mars" Online

For people who think all scifi sucks, that it's just a bunch of robots wandering around technobabbling and being hideously racist and sexist, this is not going to make any new believers. You better'd BELIEVE this will have a full review - I've owned the paperback copy for over 4 years and have dreamed of landing on Mars for over a decade. Full Review: Jaime Waterman is half-Navajo and full renowned geologist heading as one of a dozen explorers to Mars. The international team lands on Mars, explores, makes way for Jaime "Marty Stu" to call all the shots, comes down with a STUPID disease, and then gets stuck in a crater - perfect for Jaime Stu to come and save the day. My childhood dream was to go to Mars. I dreamed that I would be an engineer on a first Mars mission (I think my goal was to have landed THIS YEAR). I have compiled a TOTALLY LEGIT and SCIENTIFICALLY OBJECTIVE graph for this experiment: Let T= Percentage through Book, R=Embarrassing Racism, X=Sexualization of every female, and S=Stupidity. Sexist characters? Male character who can do no wrong and always gets his way? And I DID love it when Bova shut up about his awful, stupid characters, their awful, stupid drama and looked at the science and world of Mars. But if to get to that stuff it means I have to spend even an HOUR listening to Jaime call himself a "Red Man" or laugh about the "privilege" being a Native American gives him or comment on how childish Joanna looks all the while wanting to seriously bone her - UMKAY, I'm getting OFF this bus KTHXBAI. Where Bova fails is the characters. From Jaime Waterman to Ilona to Tony Reed to the Russian astronauts with difficult to spell last names (SORRY PEEPS, I listened on audiobook and have no ear for spelling out American names, much less Russian ones), all the characters are about as interesting as...hmmm, I would say a Martian rock, but those suckers are fascinating. I would applaud his non-white characters, his attempt to include women if they weren't SO BLAND! The good news is that he didn't completely bore me with this book as he had with the previous (Obviously I don't care for Bradbury in audiobook form).

There are politics in space and on the ground, along with dossiers on each character that add depth to their backgrounds so that we understand why each one behaves the way they do on the mission. There is some political intrigue between Jaimie Waterman, his ambitious journalist girlfriend back on Earth, and the opportunistic Vice President of the United States, each of them trying to get what they want from the other to advance their own agenda. Many of them are capable and three-dimensional, but there is the opportunistic journalist who has no qualms about sleeping her way to the top, there's the promiscuous scientist who takes malicious pleasure in giving the Russians blue balls by screwing everyone else, and there is the Vice President who is described as "shrill," "strident" and generally a conniving power-hungry bitch every time she appears.) An enjoyable if slightly dry hard SF novel that should certainly go on your "Mars or Bust!" reading list.

I keep telling myself I will never read Bova again, yet I find myself getting sucked in from cover art, misleading blurbs or my latent desire to commit a form of painfully slow suicide. And not to be picky, but if you are going to have characters that are Brazilian, shouldn't they actually speak Portuguese and not Spanish. The book cover says that at the Grand Canyon of Mars, the team finds the ultimate discovery. I hereby vow on all that is sacred, and my complete set of Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy, never to read another book by this author.

In the meantime, you can read the entire review at Smorgasbook

For someone who does NOT plan on reading more than one book about Mars, I'd recommend Robinson's Red Mars above this one, for sure.

Anyone fascinated by the scientific and sociological implications of space exploration will find Mars an absolute delight.

First published by Bantam in 1992, Mars is a story written from the point of view of a Native American geologist, Dr. Jamie Waterman, who is a member of the fictional multinational team to land on and explore Mars. Perhaps the most interesting character in the book is Alberto Brumado, an Argentinean who is portrayed as the driving force behind the entire project. Mars is an interesting read with solid science, a testimony to Bova's meticulous research. Additionally, the fictional female Vice-President of the United States is portrayed as a ruthless political animal.

I loved that MARS was anchored in realism and yet let the reader mirror a boundless future. The strong writing and the rationalism of MARS won me over and got me to continue reading despite my issues with the novel.

Bova was a technical writer for Project Vanguard and later for Avco Everett in the 1960s when they did research in lasers and fluid dynamics. Bova was the science advisor for the failed television series The Starlost, leaving in disgust after the airing of the first episode. Bova is the President Emeritus of the National Space Society and a past President of Science-fiction and Fantasy Writers of America (SFWA). In 2000, he was the Author Guest of Honor at the 58th World Science Fiction Convention (Chicon 2000).