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Voyage Mass Market Paperback – Sep 18 1997

2.7 out of 5 stars 6 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Mass Market Paperback: 784 pages
  • Publisher: Eos (Sept. 18 1997)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0061057088
  • ISBN-13: 978-0061057083
  • Product Dimensions: 10.6 x 6 x 17.1 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 363 g
  • Average Customer Review: 2.7 out of 5 stars 6 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #975,359 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product Description

From Amazon

Kennedy survived. Like many alternate history stories, that's the premise of Stephen Baxter's Voyage. But in Baxter's version of the past, that one altered fact is the propellant that drives humanity into space, beyond the primitive lunar landings of the 1960s. Spurred by a JFK who champions space flight and a Nixon administration that backs NASA, humans reach Mars in 1986. But this is a tragic tale as well as a triumphant one, for Baxter's relentless realism chronicles the perils of extended space flight as well as its glamorous achievements, making for a gritty, true-to-life story. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Publishers Weekly

With just a little bit of alternate history, Baxter's excellent what-if novel about a 1986 Mars landing accomplishes its mission. The premise is brilliant: at the time of the Apollo moon landing, President Nixon authorized a Space Task Group to define the post-Apollo role of NASA. In real life, Nixon's directive in effect ended manned space exploration in favor of the Shuttle program; in Baxter's novel, thanks to one major change in history, the green light is given for a manned Mars mission, the Ares program. Seen primarily through the eyes of Natalie York, the geologist on the mission as well as the first women in space, the road from Apollo to Ares is potholed with bureaucratic battles, technical challenges, an Apollo XIII-like disaster and constant fretting about the inevitability (and necessity) of sacrificing lives to advance the cause of science. Baxter, whose recent works include a wildly imagined sequel to The Time Machine (The Time Ships), peoples his story with main characters who are as authentic as his science. By contrast, the supporting characters-notably an ex-NASA administrator who gets religion-are sketchy and barely integrated with the plot. Even so, there's plenty of imagination on display here-and research, too, as Baxter invents not only a credible mission to Mars but also a credible technical, political and personal history behind it. Author tour.
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

2.7 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Mass Market Paperback
Voyage, by Stephen Baxter, offers the intriguing possibility of NASA undertaking a manned mission to Mars in the 1980s instead of building the space shuttle. The book, however, suffers from a couple of flaws.
First, the narrative alternates between the years leading from the Apollo moon landing to the launch of the Mars expedition and the voyage to Mars itself. It is sometimes very hard to keep the two separate stories straight in one's memory. There is also next to nothing about what happens on Mars after the landing.
Second, Baxter totally fails to suggest that doing Mars instead of the shuttle would have any effect on society and history outside of the US space program. This is doubly puzzling because he basis his altered history on a John F. Kennedy having survived Dallas a cripple. (That premise may be one built on quicksand. Recent revelations about JFK's health problems and his private feelings toward space exploration make the idea of his physical survival into the 80s problematic, not to speak of his advocacy of a manned mission to Mars.) Regardless, the survival of JFK to be a kind of gray eminence of the Democratic Party would have been an interesting concept to explore, even without the space theme.
The story also has a bitter sweet air about it. Several Apollo lunar missions, as well as a number of unmanned probes such as the Pioneer and Voyager missions to the Outer Planets are cancelled to pay for sending people to Mars. And there is the faint whiff of melancholy that after humans return from Mars, there might be no further expeditions.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
This is an interesting book about how NASA might have gotten a manned mission to Mars by now. The story revolves around one very dedicated geologist, and her issuance into the boys club of astronauts. The book starts well, but about half way through, Baxter gets bogged down--as so many books about NASA and US space missions seem to--in the details of the mission. The book loses touch with human elements, and is a bit boring.
But, again following previous themes, disaster wakes the plotline up, and Voyage runs with good inertia to the end.
The plotline is well conceived and interesting, but any of you that are interested in the alternative history (which I have read only one other book about), Baxter may disappoint you. There is very little in Voyage of any political or historical consequence (well, other than NASA getting a manned mission to Mars). Real figures in history (such as JFK) take a very big back seat, and add almost nothing to this book. I found this lack of tie-in disappointing (especially with the teaser on the back cover mentioning JFK).
And finally, I was dismayed with the last four pages of this book. Baxter builds everything up nicely for the finale, and completely misses. The ending is completely out-of-character, and performs a jump back to "NASA mission mode" (i.e., downplayed and disappointing). Too bad, as otherwise, Voyage was an interesting read.
3 of 5 stars
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
If Tom Clancy is the "Tom Clancy" of warfare, Baxter may be his equal in Engineering. The book is written in near scholarly text when explaining the nueclear rockets, and chemical propellant vehicles that mankind would have used to go to Mars in the 1980's. That was a turn-off. Another turn-off is the non-chronological sequence the story is told in. The first passages have the crew that is going to Mars on the pad. Then the book retreats from there to when Natalie York, Mission Specialist and one of the many protagonists in the book, decided to become an astronaut. And then it comes back to different points in the Mars Mission inter-mixed with the life stories of the other two Mars explorers going to the Red Planet with her, the bids to build the hardware going on the voyage, the shakeups at NASA, even York's search for an apartment near NASA. It would have been better if it was told from point A to B. I found this to be a terrible way to have to read the book. For instance, you knew the Nueclear rocket program had it's problems before he wrote about them since it was explained earlier in the book.
On the plus side, and there are many plusses, the book explains from an "insider's" viewpoint what these astronauts go through. It isn't pretty. The sterile appearance of the space program is stripped away with broad strokes. These people are street fighters who look at competitiveness as one of the four food groups. The politics of NASA, the in-fighting, the seemingly ordinary choices these men and women made that would effect how history books are written decades later are described in hard-headed, unromantic terms. All at once you are enamored and a little bothered at what is written. "Could it be that superficial and heroic at the same time?
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