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Mars Life

Mars Life

3.8 10
by Ben Bova

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Jamie Waterman discovered the cliff dwelling on Mars, and the fact that an intelligent race lived on the red planet sixty-five million years ago, only to be driven into extinction by the crash of a giant meteor. Now the exploration of Mars is itself under threat of extinction, as the ultraconservative New Morality movement gains control of the U.S. government and


Jamie Waterman discovered the cliff dwelling on Mars, and the fact that an intelligent race lived on the red planet sixty-five million years ago, only to be driven into extinction by the crash of a giant meteor. Now the exploration of Mars is itself under threat of extinction, as the ultraconservative New Morality movement gains control of the U.S. government and cuts off all funding for the Mars program.

Meanwhile, Carter Carleton, an anthropologist who was driven from his university post by unproven charges of rape, has started to dig up the remains of a Martian village. Science and politics clash on two worlds as Jamie desperately tries to save the Mars program and uncover who the vanished Martians were.

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Editorial Reviews

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.)

Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Library Journal

During his first visit to Mars, Navaho archaeologist Jamie Waterman discovered evidence of cliff dwellings, indicating that intelligent life had once inhabited the Red Planet. Later, anthropologist Carter Carleton uncovers a fossil of what might be a Martian, focusing world attention on the planet. As scientists scramble to retain the funding necessary to maintain their presence on Mars, the New Morality Movement, religiously fundamentalist and rabidly anti-science, increases its hold on the reins of power-in the United States and, perhaps, throughout the world. Bova's latest addition to his Grand Tour books (e.g., Venus) brings back familiar characters and expands on his projected future, encompassing both his hopes for continued exploration of space and his fears for the obstacles that stand in its way. A good addition to most libraries and a welcome find for Bova's many readers.

—Jackie Cassada

Product Details

Tom Doherty Associates
Publication date:
Grand Tour Series , #12
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Read an Excerpt


Mars is the most earthlike planet in the solar system. But that doesn’t mean that it’s very much like Earth.

Barely half of Earth’s size, Mars orbits roughly one and a half times farther from the Sun than Earth does. It is a small, cold, seemingly barren world, a frozen desert of ironrust sands from pole to pole.

Yet Mars is a spectacular world. The tallest mountain in the solar system is the aptly named Olympus Mons, a massive shield volcano three times higher than Everest, with a base as wide as the state of Idaho. The main caldera at Olympus Mons’s summit could swallow Mt. Everest entirely. Other huge volcanoes dot the Tharsis highlands, all of them long extinct.

Almost halfway across the planet is Hellas Planitia, an enormous impact crater nearly the size of Australia and some five kilometers deep, gouged out when a huge meteor slammed into Mars eons ago.

Then there is Valles Marineris, the Grand Canyon of Mars, a gigantic rift in the ground that stretches farther than the distance between Boston and San Francisco, a fracture that is seven kilometers deep in some places and so wide that explorers standing on one rim of it cannot see the other side because it is beyond the horizon.

The atmosphere of Mars is a mere wisp, thinner than Earth’s high stratosphere. It is composed mostly of carbon dioxide, with traces of nitrogen, oxygen, and inert gases such as argon and neon. The air pressure at the surface of Mars is about the same as the

pressure thirty- some kilometers up in the high stratosphere of Earth’s atmosphere, so thin that an uncovered glass of water will immediately boil away even when the temperature is far below zero.

Which it is most of the time. Mars is a cold world. At midsummer noon on the Martian equator, the ground temperature might get as high as seventy degrees Fahrenheit. But at the height of a person’s nose the temperature would be zero, and that night it would plunge to a hundred below or even colder. The thin Martian atmosphere retains almost none of the Sun’s heat: it reradiates back into space, even at noon on the equator.

There is water on Mars, however. The polar caps that can be seen from Earth even with an amateur telescope contain frozen water, usually overlain with frozen carbon dioxide: dry ice. Explorers found layers of permafrost—frozen water—beneath the surface, enough underground water to make an ocean or at least a sizable sea.

There is abundant evidence that water once flowed across the surface of Mars. The entire northern hemi sphere of the planet may once have been an ocean basin. Mars was once considerably warmer and wetter than it is now.

But today the surface of Mars is a barren desert of highly oxidized iron sands that give Mars its rusty red coloration. Those sands are loaded with superoxides; the planetwide desert of Mars is more like powdered bleach than soil in which plants could grow.

Yet there is life on Mars. The First Expedition discovered lichenlike organisms living inside cracks in the rocks littering the floor of the Grand Canyon of Mars. The Second Expedition found bacteria living deep underground, extremophiles that metabolize solid rock and water leached from the permafrost.

And the human explorers discovered an ancient cliff dwelling built into a niche high up the north wall of the Valles Marineris. There were once intelligent Martians, but they were wiped out in a cataclysm that scrubbed the entire planet clean of almost all life.

Curious explorers from Earth sought to understand those longvanished Martians. But others of Earth preferred to ignore them, to pretend that they had never existed. In an irony that stretched across two worlds, the greatest discovery made on Mars led directly to the determined effort to put an end to the exploration of the red planet.

Copyright © 2008 by Ben Bova. All rights reserved.

Meet the Author

A six-time winner of the Hugo Award, a former editor of Analog, former editorial director of Omni, and past president of the National Space Society and the Science Fiction Writers of America, Ben Bova is the author of more than a hundred works of science fact and fiction. He lives in Florida.

Ben Bova is the author of more than a hundred works of science fact and fiction, including Able One, Leviathans of Jupiter and the Grand Tour novels, including Titan, winner of John W. Campbell Memorial Award for best novel of the year. He received the Lifetime Achievement Award of the Arthur C. Clarke Foundation in 2005, and in 2008 he won the Robert A. Heinlein Award "for his outstanding body of work in the field of literature." He is President Emeritus of the National Space Society and a past president of Science Fiction Writers of America, and a former editor of Analog and former fiction editor of Omni. As an editor, he won science fiction’s Hugo Award six times. Dr. Bova’s writings have predicted the Space Race of the 1960s, virtual reality, human cloning, the Strategic Defense Initiative (Star Wars), electronic book publishing, and much more. He lives in Florida.

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Mars Life 3.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 10 reviews.
harstan More than 1 year ago
In his first trip to Mars, Native American geologist Jamie Waterman discovered proof that life existed on the red planet when he found the ruins of cliff dwellings. He wants to return to continue his anthropological studies of the dead Martians, but so far lacks funding.----------- On earth, the planet suffers from environmental disaster so the government has doubts about research into a dead race on another orb. At the same time religious leaders demand the end to the Martian exploration expedition claiming heresy and a waste of money on a fake project. When Waterman shows a fossil from the fourth planet from the sun, he places his wife and him in danger from fanatics. Desperate, the couple returns to Mars to save their project.------------ Part of the superb Grand Tour exploration of the solar system, Ben Bova's RETURN TO MARS with the star of that title and book three MARS, Jamie Waterman, back tying to continue the exploration into a past civilization on the fourth planet. Mindful of the Planet of the Apes after the archaeological find of a talking human doll, Mr. Bova catches the nuances of the politicking of science as the politicians do not want the facts to interfere with the prime objective of reelection and the religious fundamentalists ignore ethical means as only achieving their end goal matters. Readers will appreciate this fine action-packed tale as a beleaguered Jamie cannot comprehend why his find does not propel funding while Mr. Bova makes it lucid where he stands on support to science.------ Harriet Klausner
lovestoread203 More than 1 year ago
MARS LIFE is a great book. Understandably. Being the last book in the series, the plot ends here. The plot is profound, twisted. In this book, if you read closely you can feel an undercurrent, something like a prologue towards his other books about various planets. In this book you realize that this book is part of an extensive plot, based in our solar system. This plot in the book relates directly towards his other books. Though the protagonist is different (the Mars Corporation) the antagonist is still the New Morality, a group trying to bring down the Mars expeditions by discrediting them. Their reason? It probably runs deeper than their excuse, which is that God created only humans to have intelligence and a soul, and Earth as the only life-bearing planet. But now they've found intelligent life on Mars. and the New Morality wants to stop the public from believing in this. The plot plays out as it would in real life. The bad side, or the Morality, wins. But hope isn't lost, because there are still scientists who will do anything to get Mars back. And the way they do it goes against everything: tourism. But it's the only choice. At the same time, twists in the plot like morose, no longer caring Carter, who ends up falling in love with Mars, a preacher who finally lives up to his hope of one day stepping foot on Mars, and returning leader of the expeditions, Jamie Waterman, end up at first to look like chaos to the eye but, with details provided by the author, in the end make perfect sense. All are determined to keep Mars explored. These twists in the plot help the function and personality to the main plot. They make more difference to the book then the alien life forms that were found in it. The plot is woven in a way that makes the book have depth and personality, as twisted as it is.
Batman77 More than 1 year ago
I have an insatiable appetite for books on Mars. If I could go there, I would. Mr. Bova's first two Mars books, Mars and Return to Mars, left me wanting more on the quest for answers to the questions he raised in the first two installments. This book delivers very little. Most of the interesting happenings are near the end of the book and one is left dragging through the forever home-world problems. I understand this sets the stage for what is happening in the research on Mars but it is tiresome. His characters are believable and you would expect to find them on any scientific endeavor. His plot is insufferably slow to develop. It made the book seem contrived to fill a slot rather than continue the story. I would not put it on the level of Mars. Ben Bova can do much better.
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wassr More than 1 year ago
Whacked out sci-fi writer Just finished a novel, "Mars Life" by Ben Bova. Ruins found on Mars. Cliff dwellings like the ones in the Southwest. But in the novel, it is clear what the author is a big left wing moron. The President of course is an evil conservative, backed by fanatical christians, who do not want the population of the earth to know about these ruins because then it would mean that they would lose their hold on humanity if they are proved false in teaching we are alone in the universe. And of course, the fanatics are also terrorists who kill unbelievers. And of course global warming is flooding the Earth(the weather channel cannot even give an accurate forecast 3 days in advance, but the Earth is burning and it will flood 40 years from now) This novel takes place many years in the future. There is nano-technology, used to make protective domes on Mars for habitation and protective space suits, thin as clothing. But in one scene, a character is getting up out of his chair,(this is many years from now. Technology is moving very quickly even in 2009)and his knee hits the edge of the table, and almost knocks(get this) his laptop computer onto the floor. What the____? wassr.blogspot.com