A Review of: Mars, by Ben Bova

For a book published in 1992, it holds up *pretty* well. I had many a good snicker at the casual use of floppy discs though. Needless to say that the actual technology portrayed in the book was lacking – in that there wasn’t really much detail mentioned, or imagined how it could be. Floppy disks – case in point. But yet, they communicated thru video chats, and often uploaded what would [presumably] be massive file sizes from Mars surface vehicle, to Mars base camp, to the orbiting space craft, to earth. I guess being many decades in to the future while reading (but yet not as far into the future as I imagined the book to be staged – but I don’t recall seeing a date given for said time setting) – I unconsciously inserted appropriate technology when imagining whatever they might be talking about. Which floppy discs aside I guess work out well. 

The premise of the book – hooked me. Currently in media there are many books, movies, and tv shows focused on exploration of Mars, as well as our first manned trip to Mars, as a human race. Since we haven’t sone it yet, but it’s on the horizon as something probably quite soon – there is much speculation, and imagining. 

It is fascinating…. Some minor points in the book: they were very lax about ‘Mars dust’ and breathing it. I felt like – they were not nearly as careful as things would be with airlock, and being absolutely sure not to have Mars dust, or atmosphere enter the areas where our characters would be out of spacesuits. Such that – it seemed like they were bringing in MARS ROCKS to analyse. With NO CONTAINMENT protocols, or spaces. [Presumably, because ’several space probes had been to Mars already, and so therefor it was known to be safe’]. But come on! I don’t think so! Real life astronauts would be taking absolutely every precaution to protect the fragile humans. Not to mention not contamination Mrs with Earth/ human microbes either. But pushing that aside, it still felt relatively rooted in ‘real’ science, and how we might expect things to be handled. 

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

It was overall, still a relevant and interesting read on the topic. 

But….. Low points for:

Sure this book was published in 1992, but it’s a bit of a mixed bag. The writer has made a concentrated effort for this to be “future’. And in that respect the space program costs are shared by many nation, all working together to get this mission to mars going. Technology is contributed by many nations’ money. Brains. Astronauts, and cosmoneaughts. There is a great point of having characters from many nations, colours, ethnic backgrounds. Even distributions of male and female (relatively)… but that’s where the wall is hit on the thinking of the writer – the sexism, racism, etc., is still rampant between the characters. It felt like a hard fail… in imagining the peoples of the planet possibly being a bit more enlightened by… whenever in the future this is. 

Every single male person in this book thinks primarily with his dick. And it’s as if every interaction purposefully has some dick-based comment, thought, action. It seems as if the woman are merely props for dick thinking. 

The sexism is nauseating. It’ like the author is going out of his way to write like a sexist pig. The male astronauts can not seem to think about anything but sex in the presence of female astronauts. Her suit fit snugly. I couldn’t help but notice her womanly shape. She looked at me, so I stroked her face. I wondered how I could get her into bed. The pressure building in my groin when I saw her! 

UGH! Just, WTF was he thinking?!?!? The way this book sets up in the first several chapters, is that women are primarily sex objects, and secondarily humans, scientists, beings capable of exploration. etc. 

It’s like the author goes out of the way, every paragraph, to make sure there is some sexist comment, thought, action coming from the male characters. It’s disgusting, and unbearable to slog through reading. Definitely a major detractor for the enjoyment of the reading. 

So… mixed feelings overall. Shrugs. I try not to be too judgy, I did just read the author died less than a month ago. And, obviously – with such a plethora of published works – he was successful. And you can’t argue with that kind of record. 

I went to have a look online to see what other books might be between this one, and the recently released Uranus… apparently there are approx. 25. I guess I am not going to read them all! (Unless I find a free source…) But There’s a good chance I may pick up a few – to see how it evolves, sexism aside. I get pretty good at just blotting out  these kinds of things while I read and reframing it to a more pleasant commentary. Books are great for that – if your brain is creative enough to  make substitutes on the fly! 

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