A very REALISTIC story about man’s first trek to mars. The story is dutifully speculative fiction. Painstakingly thoughtful on all the circumstances that would surround such a voyage, from earth-bound politics to interpersonal relationships of the travelers themselves. Lets also not forget the science which Bova provides in generous amounts.
If you love mars and you love scientific fiction about space exploration then you will love this book. I feel the author made a hard choice in keeping away from fantasy and he sticks to it through and through. Its hard to explain without giving away spoilers.
Overall, I felt somewhat unsatisfied with the result. While the work is done masterfully for what it is I felt a tad bit cheated in the end. That said, I will state unequivocally that I was glued to this book throughout my reading. I found myself compelled to keep picking it up and the writing is done well so I was able to plow through it quite swiftly despite its length. So kudos to the author for keeping me quite interested from start to finish.
I did not like the politics of the book or the interpersonal relationships. Which I suppose you were not supposed to like as they serve as potential sources of conflict for the main character. They were done fine. However, I feel like the author kept threatening to derail the mission because of various political problems on the ground or petty jealousies among the chief characters. All of this would be quite good, and it served a purpose of putting this space exploration in a realistic world – yet I felt that the author shied away from really raising the stakes with these things. And because the politics and interpersonal relationships only seemed to threaten thing in a weak way I felt that the peaks and valleys of the story were less dramatic. I guess it felt a bit like the story was sacrificed for the mission. So I wonder if the book could have been shortened if we took out some of the these elements.
I would say this story is really a 3.5 star rating.
And yet, I feel duty bound to leave you with the notion that I could truly not put down the book. So if you are at all interested in Mars missions and realistic science fiction, I would definitely check it out.