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Mars (The Grand Tour #4)

3.83  ·  Rating Details ·  6,871 Ratings  ·  224 Reviews
Geologist Jamie Waterman is a last-minute replacement on the first international Mars landing team. He endures training rigors, personality conflicts, political intrigues, and over 100 million kilometers travel in space. The crew battle an alien landscape and earthbound bureaucrats. Heading toward a chasm over 10 times the Arizona Grand Canyon, they make a shocking find.
Kindle Edition
Published (first published January 1992)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
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Crystal Starr Light
Bullet Review:

What an utter disappointment. Childhood Me is sitting in a corner, sobbing. Adult Me is just totally amused at how such an interesting concept can go so wrong in so many different ways.

For people who think all scifi sucks, that it's just a bunch of robots wandering around technobabbling and being hideously racist and sexist, this is not going to make any new believers.

2 stars, and all those stars are for the scenes on Mars that deal with MARS not the automatons masquerading as expl
Feb 19, 2013 David rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Martian astronauts, Navajo geologists, shrill Vice Presidents
Mars is Ben Bova's love letter to space exploration; it's a novel-length booster for a manned Mars program. A very well-conceived and engaging (in places) novel, you should not read it expecting it to be space opera or really, any kind of adventure aside from the inevitable dangers of flying to another planet. Mars stays strictly hard SF, so even when the possibility of life on Mars arises, you can be sure it won't come in the form of ancient cities and little red men, nor hazardous beasties who ...more
Patrick Gibson
After hating Bova’s ‘Titan’–what was I thinking going right into another of his novels? It’s the COVER ART damn it! I am such a sucker. And this book is just pure trash. The characters are straight out of an exceptionally bad SyFy movie. I finished the book only because I wanted to convince myself it was consistently boring and stupid. I keep telling myself I will never read Bova again, yet I find myself getting sucked in from cover art, misleading blurbs or my latent desire to commit a form of ...more
Megan Baxter
Nov 02, 2011 Megan Baxter rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a reread review. I went straight from one Bova as my bathroom reading, to another. Thankfully, I found this one much more engrossing and consistent than I did the Kinsman Chronicles. The pacing doesn't lag in the middle, as that one did, and I never had trouble convincing myself to pick it up and read a few more pages.

Note: The rest of this review has been withdrawn due to the changes in Goodreads policy and enforcement. You can read why I came to this decision here.

In the meantime, you
Mar 29, 2008 Tara rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Mars nerds
I have a love for books about the colonization of Mars that borders on unhealthy. I enjoyed this one, but it was impossible to refrain from comparing it to Kim Stanley Robinson's trilogy (Red/Blue/Green). And Robinson's trilogy was much more satisfying. I found the portrayal of characters in Bova's Mars to be more caricatured, and the personal conflicts much more soap opera-y.

This book also had much less futuristic technologies and whatnot... in Robinson's books, he described fictional technolo
C. Hall
Apr 20, 2009 C. Hall rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Mars isn't everyone's conception of what science fiction is supposed to be: this is no sweeping, epic space-opera populated by intelligent robots and raygun-wielding starship captains. Rather, Mars is a story of exploration set against a brutally inhospitable backdrop. A realistic take on what the first manned mission to the red planet may actually be like, Mars presents challenges that are personal and environmental rather than the product of some moustache-twirling villain's skulduggery.

Jun 15, 2010 Thomas rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A Review of Mars, a novel by Ben Bova

Author of over 120 novels and nonfiction books, Ben Bova is well-known in science fiction circles. In his fiction, Bova writes in a saga-sweeping style that is well-researched and dedicated to realistic portrayal. First published by Bantam in 1992, Mars is a story written from the point of view of a Native American geologist, Dr. Jamie Waterman, who is a member of the fictional multinational team to land on and explore Mars. Waterman's lifelong dream is to be
This book was incredibly realistic. I was really impressed with the effort put into getting this story as close as possible to what an actual Mars mission might be like. Several times during the book I would totally stop and think, "Is it too late to live out my childhood dreams of becoming an astronaut?", only to think, sadly, two seconds later that, yes, it is most likely too late...

I liked the thought Bova put into the politics behind putting space missions together too. Most science fiction
Benoit Lelièvre
I'm ambivalent. This was a delightfully nerdy novel about humanity's first trip to Mars and a clutter of cliches and worn-down tropes that didn't give Ben Bova's nerdy ambitions the narrative breathing room it deserved. I loved that MARS was anchored in realism and yet let the reader mirror a boundless future. The strong writing and the rationalism of MARS won me over and got me to continue reading despite my issues with the novel.

MARS is a rare case of a novel suffering from too much exposition
Oct 05, 2010 Anna rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
the rocks in this book have more personality than the characters. No I'm serious! there's this lovely martian boulder with a green streak in it that has all this.. this potential! this guy knows his science but can't write complex emotion for shit.
Ye gods, where do I begin with this one...

Mars is a hard sci-fi piece about the first exploration/trip to, well, Mars with humans. To be honest, I thought this thing was written in the 80s, it felt so utterly dated (attitudes, more than science itself), and I was surprised to see that it was written in 1992. Even more, I don't understand how some people claim that it's not a "typical sci fi" because it doesn't have robots and other "stereotypical" sci fi elements. It's Sci Fi to the core, but I
May 20, 2013 Randal rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: sci-fi fans who have read everything else
Shelves: sci-fi
The science was better than the fiction.

Bova spends a lot of time rehashing Cold War tensions ... only for them to not play a part in the finale. (I get that he was making a point about common humanity being bigger than the flags we fly, but it was such a big plot point in the first half of the book.)

He pulls the same le herring rouge routine with the sex. Virtually every time we get inside the head of one of the supporting characters, an oversexed British doctor, it's like inhabiting the point
First off, I think this book deserves a 3 and a half rating, close to a 4.

This is a Hard Science fiction novel; detailing, as accurately as possible, the first manned expedition to mars. There is lot's of believable technical stuff here but not so much as to bog down the book. An interesting set of characters, although there were a couple of times where I thought that the characters would not be on the mission if they behaved in that way.

The book was written in the 90's and unfortunately there a
Sep 11, 2014 Cheryl rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mars
I understand the negative reviews for this book from 1992: the parts about American media and politics have not aged well. Bova does not anticipate the Internet and its effect on network news media. And the scenes where the astronauts put "floppies" into onboard computers and run out of space on their videotapes are cringe-y. Or talk about the half-Navaho protagonist as a "red man." And the cast of international characters on the mission are standard fare: the stoic Russian pilots, the obligator ...more
Mar 23, 2012 Angela rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I give it two points for the political intrigue and the look at how difficult it would be to pull off this kind of scientific mission. But I have to subtract three stars for the awful characters. It's bad enough that they fall into such obvious categories and ethnic stereotypes - the American is the hero and the Brit is the jerk - but the real crime is the female characters. I put up with a lot of sexual stereotyping to read "classic" science fiction, but this one was written in the 1990s! Do we ...more
Jan 06, 2009 Bryan rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: owned
One of the most plausible novels of the exploration of Mars, this book is a fascination and riveting read. Bova is at his finest in this novel, and it is a great place to begin the loosely related novels that compose his Grand Tour series of the solar system. Be prepared to buy another book soon after this because you will mostly likely not want to put this one down. I could not!
Roddy Williams
‘To the harsh landscape of Sol’s fourth planet travel thirteen astronauts, the best scientists from eleven nations, on a history-making voyage into the unknown. The international crew of the Mars mission have spent nine months in space, crossing too (sic) million kilometres, to reach the last great frontier.
Their voyage is fraught with disputes, both personal and political, and their time on Mars limited to ‘footprints and flags’: yet while there they come face-to-face with the most incredible a
Jun 30, 2008 Nicolas rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Ceux qui sont intéressés par une version bureaucratique de l'exploration spatiale
Recommended to Nicolas by: Bernard
Ce roman raconte un e possible future conquête de Mars et les différents problèmes qui en découlent. C'est un roman assez intéressant, même si la découverte de Mars n'est absolument pas le sujet central de cette histoire.
Pour essayer de situer au mieux ce bouquin, je vais vous donner quelques noms d'auteurs pouvant s'en rapprocher Kim Stanley Robinson, parce que c'est le pape de Mars, selon moi, [Stephen Baxter] dont le roman [title:Titan] est très proche dans l'esprit de cette histoire, et Fr
A realistic near-future look at the first manned expedition to Mars.

Deals with some of the dangers which could be faced, some mundane (sandstorms)or more exotic (micro-meteor showers), but much of the book focuses on how politics effects space programs and the interpersonal relationships in the crew. Depending on what you like in your scifi you'll either think this interesting and adds a good dose of realism, or you'll find it incredibly boring. I was a bit in the middle, with it both being some
Steven Dzwonczyk
"Mars", by Ben Bova, is a fairly accurate chronicle of what a first manned mission to Mars might be like. Bova did a good job of capturing what technology we might need, what the astronauts would do for the long journey there, how the politicians and world would react to events, how the astronauts might feel and behave, and what might be found on Mars.

When I say chronicle, though, I mean to imply this was not really a story, a drama, or a tale. It was simply what might happen day-to-day. Bova ma
Jul 14, 2008 Neal rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I truly fell in love with this book when I read it in the winter of 1995. It's a long, painstaking account of a manned mission to Mars circa 2020. The details of the mission are very much in line with what NASA was speculating such a mission would be like back then, but the book is not just a lot of technical jargon. Ben Bova has a terrific knack for creating sympathetic characters that you really root for, and the occasional bastard you want to see burn in oil. There's a bit of soap opera to hi ...more
Mar 28, 2013 Neil rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The story of the first human voyage to Mars, and the political hurdles faced both before and during the mission.
A well-written story, with likeable and relateable characters. Even the minor characters have an element of reality to them.
The author strives for scientific realism, and the only failing is the antiquated technology used for media recording. I suppose in the 1990's when this was written it was hard to imagine the end of magnetic tape as a viable technology as soon as 2010 (the approxi
Jun 08, 2009 Jake rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I was very pleased with the Ben Bova novel. It’s the first of his I’ve read. The accolade Arthur C. Clarke gave this book was a big selling point for me. After a couple of disappointing feature films failed to satisfy, I was interested in finding a good story that dramatized a first human mission to Mars.

I enjoyed what felt like a plausible enough depiction of visiting the red planet. The characters are conventional, but not boring. It’s not a fast moving storyline, but that’s fine. My interes
David Merrill
Jul 17, 2012 David Merrill rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
About 15 years ago I was asked to write a review column for an e-zine that never quite got off the ground. As a result, I have 5 installments of that column languishing on my computer drive. Mars was one of the books I reviewed in the first installment. I've decided to "publish" them myself in the writing section on my Home page about once a month (maybe sooner, we'll see). Each installment has a theme and reviews two books that fit that theme. I took a no holds barred approach a la Ellison in t ...more
Chris Kaufman
This was the first Ben Bova book that I ever read, and it is one of my favorites. It is about Jamie Waterman and the first manned expedition to the Red Planet. This book kept me interested and turning the pages, and after I finished I picked up the sequels, Return to Mars and Mars Life, and then read several other of Bova's books and enjoyed them as well. This book has several dossiers, pages of background on each of the characters that were interesting but in all honesty probably could have bee ...more
Tama Wise
I think I must have been short of books to read when I picked up this one on a wim. Nothing like a good old, hard sci fi story about Mars exploration. This one didn't disappoint, with all sorts of political intrigues and relationships that were far from sorted by the end of the book.

Thats my only complaint of course. It finishes nicely but so much is left unfinished. There is a sequel. Not sure if I will read it though.
Chris Tower
If you want to know what a manned mission to Mars might be like, then this is the book for you. It's not exciting by any means. The action ramps up at the end and makes for some tension but nothing major. Still, it's a very good hard SF book with lots of information about Mars and the technology that would support a mission in our near future. It sets up the sequel well, too.
Mike Mc
A good, hard-science fiction look at the first manned mission to Mars with all the dangers and politics that it would bring about. Well written and researched, this book a page turner with none of the cheesiness of the recent Mars movies or any of the New Age-ness of Kim Stanley Robinson's Red Mars trilogy. It was written in the early 90's so some of the technology does seem a little dated.
Corenna Dopkowski
Although conditions are much different on Mars than on the moon, Ben Bova's explorers are brave, loving, tortured, lonely, selfish, responsible people and a mix of all nations put together under the most trying of cirumstances in order to satisfy mankind's search for knowledge and more space and show the same type of spirit as our pioneer forefathers did. Great reading material!
Jaime Contreras
This is a smartly-written tale of adventure and intrigue as astronauts explore and survive on the planet mars. This is a very good read! I will have to read the sequel, Return To Mars one of these days.
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Ben Bova was born on November 8, 1932 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. In 1953, while attending Temple University, he married Rosa Cucinotta, they had a son and a daughter. He would later divorce Rosa in 1974. In that same year he married Barbara Berson Rose.

Bova is an avid fencer and organized Avco Everett's fencing club. He is an environmentalist, but rejects Luddism.

Bova was a technical writer fo
More about Ben Bova...

Other Books in the Series

The Grand Tour (1 - 10 of 21 books)
  • Powersat (The Grand Tour, #1)
  • Privateers (The Grand Tour, #2; Privateers, #1)
  • Empire Builders (The Grand Tour, #3; Privateers, #2)
  • Moonrise (The Grand Tour, #5; Moonbase Saga, #1)
  • Moonwar (The Grand Tour, #6; Moonbase Saga, #2)
  • Return to Mars (The Grand Tour, #7)
  • The Precipice (The Grand Tour, #8; The Asteroid Wars, #1)
  • Jupiter (The Grand Tour, #9)
  • The Rock Rats (The Grand Tour, #10; The Asteroid Wars, #2)
  • The Silent War (The Grand Tour, #11; The Asteroid Wars, #3)

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