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The Martian Race Mass Market Paperback – Jan 1 2001


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Product Details

  • Mass Market Paperback: 464 pages
  • Publisher: Aspect (Jan. 1 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0446608904
  • ISBN-13: 978-0446608909
  • Product Dimensions: 17 x 10.7 x 3 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 227 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (37 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #2,125,184 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

4.1 out of 5 stars
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
I have never read Gregory Benford before, and picked up "The Martian Race" from a bargain-bin pile with a little interest. It strayed to my "to be read" pile, then finally worked its way to the surface.

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.

'Nathan
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
Not great, not bad. The characters are mildly sympathetic and the story is mildly interesting, but nothing about the book is particularly affecting. I'd recommend it to someone who had read the genre extensively and was looking for a slightly different take on near-term space exploration. I did find the inclusion of real-life persons as characters somewhat fawning, but nowhere near as bad as Niven's Fallen Angels.
A note on the workmanship of the book itself: The edition I purchased was from Warner Books (Aspect), and fairly new (no more than a year old, I'd estimate). The binding was so poorly done that the cover fell off before I was halfway through the book, and the pages themselves separated from the main body as they were read. While I fully expect paperbacks to be of lesser quality than hardcover editions, I expect them to at least make it through the initial reading. I will certainly think twice before buying another Warner Book.
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By L. Kelly on April 17 2002
Format: Mass Market Paperback
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. I guess it says something about the story that I even bothered to fight to the end of it. No chance of a re-read. Unless you're willing to deal with loose 25 page sections, I would just look for a copy at the library. It will not survive to become part of your collection.
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By spender on March 14 2002
Format: Mass Market Paperback
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 mission, it works well). the martian race also uses mission designs by robert zubrin and justly honors the mars society.
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By Emil L. Posey on March 13 2002
Format: Hardcover
This is "hard sci fi," just as I like it. The title refers to a race to Mars, not a race of Martians (although it comes close to that, too). It's as much an example of "how to" on the cheap as it is a story. Benford is down on NASA (or the Federal government, or both), postulating a competition to Mars with a huge purse ($30 billion) as the way to get a human expedition there. That might be what it takes. Yet it's also a call for cooperation rather than competition. He shows the downside of human nature -- competitiveness, going for the gold, the potential for a breakdown of discipline in difficult situations. He advocates nuclear propulsion systems for planetary exploration, rather than today's chemical systems. He stresses how difficult planetary exploration will be -- especially the early stages, when improvisation and self-sufficiency are critical and thereby makes a case for on-the-spot decision-making rather than relying on orders from Mission Control. He also looks forward to life (past or present) on Mars. He was very creative in his depiction of what it could be like. In fact, this novel once again demonstrates to me the limitations of my creative abilities. Maybe I'm just intimidated, but I can't imagine writing a novel this well put together, this imaginative yet full of sophisticated technical detail. Heck, I wonder if I could even come up with a good idea for a "beginning, middle, and end." At any rate, it was an excellent adventure story, notwithstanding the fact that the end was predictable two-thirds of the way into the book. Benford put his lead characters through so many troubles (it actually got depressing at one point) in order to show the extent of danger and difficulties he expects planetary explorers to face that he left them only one way out. Arguably, that aspect of it could have been better written. And the way the threads came together in the end just fit too well.
Still, I enjoyed it immensely.
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