The Martian Race Mass Market Paperback – Jan 1 2001
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Esteemed Mars guru Bob Zubrin calls The Martian Race "one of the finest novels about human exploration of the Red Planet ever written. "But then again, Bob is a character in the book (albeit in the briefest of cameos), so what else could he possibly say? That notwithstanding, Zubrin's right--he couldn't have picked a better book to show his face in. By popular assent, Martian Race deserves top honors among the millennial wave of Mars exploration tales, propelled as it is by the skillful storytelling of physics doyen Gregory Benford, a Campbell and two-time Nebula winner.
Martian Race is near-future SF, set in the twenty-teens (just before Kim Stanley Robinson's Mars saga kicks off), which may contribute to its being a bit of a slow starter; this is realistic, nuts-and-bolts speculation on a mission using pretty basic technology. But the pace picks up considerably as our heroes--the likable Julia and her Russky hubby Viktor and crew, backed by the Mars Consortium and its biotech billionaire CEO John Axelrod--begin to duke it out with a Euro-Sino concern to claim the $30 billion Mars Prize and, of course, get back from the Red Planet in one piece. Benford's work throughout is engaging and thorough, exploring every aspect of why we should make this trip at all (and even a few arguments against it, like Mars Bar marketing tie-ins). --Paul Hughes --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
From Publishers Weekly
With so many Mars novels having been published in recent years, including award-winning fiction by Kim Stanley Robinson and others, it's hard to believe that even a talented writer like Benford (Cosm) could pull off another successful retelling of humanity's first expedition to the Red PlanetAbut he does. In the early 21st century, after NASA's Mars program has been grounded because of a Challenger-like catastrophe, a $30 billion prize is announced to be awarded to the first private organization that can land a spaceship on Mars, do serious science and return in one piece. Enter John Axelrod, eccentric billionaire and space aficionado. His Consortium launches a bare-bones Mars expedition that is closely followed by a Chinese-European attempt, and the race for Mars is on. Landing on the Red Planet, veteran astronaut Julia Barth and her comrades run into difficulties. Their return craft has suffered serious damage and may not be repairable. Even if they can lift off, they discover that their nuclear-powered Chinese-European competitor, although launching later than they did, may have the sheer power necessary to return to Earth first. Then, after months of fruitless searching, Julia discovers evidence of life on Mars. Benford is a solid prose stylist who creates full-toned characters. A practicing physicist, he writes plausible hard SF as well as anyone on the planet, and his portrait of Mars is among the most believable in recent genre literature. His strange and beautiful Martian ecology is so well described, in fact, that most readers will hope to explore it further, in a sequel. (Dec.) scheduled December 3, 1999, touchdown of the Mars Polar Lander.
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
Top Customer Reviews
I am a big fan of Kim Stanley Robinson's "Red Mars" trilogy, and I found "The Martian Race" another strong extrapolation of potential future visits to our brother planet. The team of four sent to Mars - intelligently told through the eyes of the team biologist and the only female of the group - are there not from NASA, not from science, but from the most basic of societal drives: Corporate Sponsorship and Prize Money.
30 Billion to the first team to reach Mars, fulfill a series of scientific requirements, and return. The conflict of the story is multi-levelled: the arrival of a second team trying to beat the first to the prize, the "mere survival" conflict of four humans trying to survive on Mars, and then a further twist that I don't want to ruin by mentioning.
All in all, "The Martian Race" was an enjoyable reading experience, with enough "real science" to feel entirely plausible. The plot curves catch you unaware, but don't feel overly contrived, and the fantastical element that becomes the third conflict is wonderfully crafted.
The only real frustrations I had with the book were, as another reviewer mentioned, a rather weak ending, and a few occasions where I felt a few characters suddenly acted out of character for what we'd seen of them so far. Regardless, you won't be let down with "The Martian Race," especially if you enjoyed Robinson's "Mars" trilogy.
Still, I enjoyed it immensely.
Most recent customer reviews
Not great, not bad. The characters are mildly sympathetic and the story is mildly interesting, but nothing about the book is particularly affecting. Read morePublished on May 25 2002 by triskaidekaphilia
An excellent story ruined by the WORST binding effort I have ever seen. The book literally fell to pieces in my hand after only a few pages. Read morePublished on April 17 2002 by L. Kelly
great book, i loved benfords writing style and the overall structure of the book (the first half switches back and forth from the mission on mars back to the planning of the... Read morePublished on March 14 2002 by spender
This is a great book overall. He does a great job of sucking you into the story and keeping you there. Read morePublished on Jan. 20 2002 by Hugh Watkins
I've always enjoyed Benford for the "hard science" he incorporates in all of his stories. This has that plus some interesting character development, captivating plot,... Read morePublished on Sept. 28 2001 by JLM
I, too had my copy fall apart in my hands as I read the book, which I thought was excellent. The story grabed my attention like no other since Rendezvous with Rama, 25 years ago. Read morePublished on May 10 2001 by Taavi Babcock
This book is an excellent read with a couple great characters, and an extremely plausible story. There are some places in the book that are cut short and others that are focused on... Read morePublished on April 30 2001 by John Lowry
Wow. This book is absolutely FANTASTIC. I can honestly say this is my favorite Mars book, and one of my all time favorite books ever. Read morePublished on March 21 2001 by Ricky