Go to Homepage   Ben Bova: Return to Mars

 

Avon Books. ISBN 0-380-97640-4
Roll up! Roll up! See the Wonderful Tour of Mars. Only $30 million for adults; children, a deal at $25 million. The bargain of a lifetime. Roll up! Roll up! 

Half Navajo geologist Jamie Waterman returns to the red planet in Ben Bova's Return to Mars. Although this time Jamie sits in the mission director's chair, commercial motives overshadow the scientific needs of the mission. C. Dexter Trumball's billionaire father raised most of the funds for the journey, partially in the hopes of deriving undreamed of profits but also to secure his space-struck son the job of geologist. 

In this atmosphere of ulterior aims, four scientists, two astronauts and a psychiatrist comb the planet for other forms of life. Meanwhile, one of them is slowly going insane. 

Bova builds an interesting conflict of characters into Return to Mars. But his characteristic attention to detail leads to unneeded flashbacks and data dumps that detract from crewmember conflicts, narrative tension and pace; and make Return to Mars difficult to read for long stretches. 

If science is your thing and you like to know the finer details of producing a habitable environment on Mars and similar planets without destroying the native ecostructure, then this is definitely the book for you. Personally, I prefer something a little more exciting. 

Stephen Smith

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