- Hardcover: 432 pages
- Publisher: Tor Books; First Edition edition (Aug. 5 2008)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0765317877
- ISBN-13: 978-0765317872
- Product Dimensions: 14.7 x 4 x 21.7 cm
- Shipping Weight: 544 g
- Average Customer Review: 2 customer reviews
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #1,023,492 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
Mars Life Hardcover – Aug 5 2008
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From Publishers Weekly
Multiple Hugo–winner Bova pens a gripping and convincing conclusion to the story begun in Mars (1992) and Return to Mars (1999). Jamie Waterman, who discovered cliff dwellings during his first trip to Mars, is struggling to acquire funding for continued research on the long-dead Martians, but his efforts are severely compromised by the increasing influence of religious fundamentalists. Their rise coincides with a global environmental crisis, giving the U.S. government another rationale for shifting resources away from Waterman's work. Even the discovery of a Martian fossil can't ensure the project's viability, and Waterman and his wife return to the red planet in a last-ditch effort to keep the exploration going. Bova deftly captures the excitement of scientific discovery and planetary exploration. This compelling story, balancing action and plausible political intrigue, will easily be enjoyed by both fans and newcomers. (Aug.)
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“An entertaining tale of survival and suspense.” –The Washington Times on The Precipice
“Bova gets better and better, combining plausible science with increasingly entertaining fiction.” –Los Angeles Daily News
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Mars Life propels the Mars series of the Grand Tour (Mars, Return to Mars) along by a few years. Jamie Waterman and his wife, ViJay - continued characters from Return to Mars - have returned to Earth but the fundamentalist New Morality movement continue to oppose the research and discovery being conducted on the red planet. The US government, under political pressure from the New Morality cut funding for the Mars station, leaving little choice but to drastically reduce the human presence on Mars or to kill the project entirely. On Mars itself, excavation of a martian village leads archaeologist Carter Carleton to an amazing discover, the first fossil of a Martian being. The New Morality, worried that the discovery will have a negative impact on the faithful do whatever they can to suppress it. Jamie and ViJay return to Mars in an attempt to find new funding, keep the project alive, and ensure a continued human presence on Mars.
One of the things I enjoyed about the previous Mars books in the Grand Tour saga was how true the sense of "being on Mars" was. For reasons I can't put my finger on, that same sense of "thereness" was absent in Mars Life. To me, the novel often felt like a series of small events strung together in a "this happened, then that happened" style that didn't draw me into the story in the same way Mars and Return to Mars did. The archaeological dig, in particular, lacked excitement and detail. The Mars research team is finding Martian structures and fossils and I just wasn't any more excited about it than digging up a cat turd from the litter box.
Mars Life isn't helped by the inflexible nature of the characters. Jamie Waterman refuses to allow tourism to come to Mars and provide much needed funding. We're reminded often throughout the novel just how passionate Jamie is about Mars, but he'd rather see the human presence there end than allow limited tourism to provide much needed cash. Lead archaeologist Carter Carleton is an extreme narcissist and while his discoveries are amazing, he's such a pompous ass that I don't really care whether he succeeds or not. Characters this inflexible are unlikely to have attained the positions they have. Jamie's wife, ViJay is really the only sympathetic character in the novel and I found myself thinking that were she in charge she would find a solution to most of the problems present in Mars Life in a half hour and we could all just get back to what we were doing.
While Mars Life provides us with a sometimes fun continuation of the series, it lacked the sense of adventure of the two preceding Mars books had. The hard sci-fi elements are there, but even Mars itself lacked the sense of deadliness it previously held. Even fantastic new discoveries don't save this book from being much more than average.
Jamie Waterman, the Navajo mission director of the first two Mars missions, finds himself in a precarious position in this book. Despite having discovered ancient cliff dwellings on Mars as well as learning that some catastrophic cosmic event snuffed out all martian life roughly 65 million years ago, Jamie's new Mars team is facing challenges from the American government, fundamentalist groups, and donors.
The government, under pressure from the New Morality, has completely withdrawn funding for the Mars operation. Global warming has taken up most of the government's available funds, so there is nothing left for the Mars mission. Even Dex Trumball, former Mars team member and now friend of Jamie, can't keep the foundation money going to Mars. It appears that the Mars base will be shut down and the members foreced to return to Earth.
However, Carter Carleton has discovered a fossil which appears to have a backbone. Driven from his university post by a charge of rape, Carleton's discovery may be enough to save the Mars mission. Upon learning of the discovery, Jamie and his wife Vijay leave to go to Mars themselves. Not only has Carleton uncovered a fossil, but an entire Martian village as well. But, these discoveries have done little to sway public opinion on Earth. The New Morality still wants the mission cancelled, and eventually, Dex journeys to Mars to pitch his tourism proposal to Jamie; one he thoroughly rejected earlier. But does he have a choice now? Will the Mars mission come to an end, or will Jamie and Dex somehow find a way to keep the expedition going despite overwhelming odds?
The Mars series has become one of my favorites, and this great book keeps up the fine tradition established in the previous volumes. The characters are well-developed, and the story itself is very good. I was immediately drawn into the story, and I enjoyed the entire book. I've read numerous books by Ben Bova, and I'd rate "Mars Life" as one of the best.
I give this book my highest recommendation. Ben Bova has created a wonderful story about Mars. Read "Mars Life" and discover the secrets of the red planet.