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How to Live on Mars: A Trusty Guidebook to Surviving and Thriving on the Red Planet

3.54  ·  Rating details ·  312 ratings  ·  53 reviews
Thinking about moving to Mars?

Well, why not? Mars, after all, is the planet that holds the greatest promise for human colonization. But why speculate about the possibilities when you can get the real scientific scoop from someone who’s been happily living and working there for years? Straight from the not-so-distant future, this intrepid pioneer’s tips for physical, financ
Paperback, 224 pages
Published December 2nd 2008 by Three Rivers Press (first published 2008)
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Jul 27, 2011 rated it liked it
Good science and an interesting format, but the tone....zeesh. It was reviewed on the cover as "irreverent", I found it more to be snide. It presumes a Martian libertarian "paradise" combined with the corruption endemic to a 3rd world banana republic. Pretty depressing, if that is indeed the future. ...more
Sarah Goodwin
Mar 13, 2018 rated it did not like it
I wanted to enjoy this book as a bit of fun reading, but was left wondering what the point of it was. On the surface it does sound well researched and impressive, with occasional humour at the expense of NASA and 'loonies' on their moon bases - but there were a few occasions where I was left a bit bewildered by the tone, intentions and reliability of the writer.

For example, in the relationship section there is an introduction that basically says that the institution of marriage is alive and well
Dec 09, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Humor Fans, Science Fans, Astronomy Fans
How to Live on Mars is a hilarious guidebook catering to anyone interested in the scientific side of things who also harbors a sense of humor. Quirky and entertaining this fascinating book by Robert Zubrin gives a step-by-step explanation of how to move to, and survive on Mars. A book that caters both to the Scientifically inclined and the common folk this book is a great read for any I.Q. level.

In the book Zubrin thoroughly and humorously explains exactly what it would take to survive and th
Karel Baloun
Dec 18, 2016 rated it it was ok
After the first 30 pages, I was excited to give this 5 stars, for delivering physics and chemistry in an adventurous fictional format (like the far superior book The Martian) and I was impressed by the author's scientific credentials.

Gradually, I clearly discovered why Mars Direct and the Mars Society have failed to create any successes: he misunderstands so many practical human topics, and doesn't realize it. Global warming would be good from the Earth (too). Getting rich is the most important
May 06, 2014 rated it did not like it
Shelves: science, space
Loved the science and speculation about Mars, but ruined by the author's libertarian schtick and his backfiring sense of humour. (Though I laughed at his suggestion that the Johnson Space Center was renamed the Bush ibn Saud Space Center sometime after 2008.)

The last two chapters about the social life on Mars were a bit much: he 'humorously' suggests that the institution of marriage ended on Earth because of too many domestic violence laws, and then has two pages full of lame Martian pick-up lin
Oct 27, 2009 rated it it was ok
Shelves: 2009, library
Mildly entertaining, as far as it went. Alas, the 'science' quotient was pretty much nonexistent. Definite nods to Heinlen in the writing style and predictions of the future, which help explain, if not justify, some of the sexist/reactionary remarks others noted. Certainly the hard-bitten, enterprising, and scarcely legit colonist narrator could have come straight out of Farmer in the Sky or Have Space Suit-Will Travel--except that there might have been more hard science worked in. However, I st ...more
A great read, and more than I expected in a couple of ways. First, it's often very funny - as noted in "About the Author", it's supposedly written by "a man born in New Plymouth (on Mars) in 2071" who is "no (proven) relation whatsoever to his twentieth-century namesake, a humorless astronautical engineer" - and second, it covers a broad range of social, economic, and philosophical subjects beyond what an individual would need to know to live in a colony on Mars.

The tone is light and often snark
Frederick Gault
Dec 09, 2014 rated it it was ok
Shelves: fiction, science
First let me say Zubrin's science is first rate. But Jesus is Mars really going to be settled by crooks, con-men, swindlers and odor-challenged losers? Okay, it's tongue firmly in cheek, I get that. But I feel Zubrin's true opinions lurk beneath the surface. NASA is populated by blithering morons who can't find their asses with both hands? Except for, you know, the putting men on the moon, the Hubble and exploring the solar system thing. I frankly got tired and then finally a little pissed off w ...more
This is a truly amusing little book that provides much of the science for getting to Mars and for terraforming it as well as riffing on Frederick Jackson Turner’s Frontier Thesis and the writings of Science Fiction author Robert Heinlein. The author is a former NASA engineer and founder of the Mars Society who put forward a comprehensive plan for getting to Mars with technology we have now. While the author’s libertarianism can get to be a bit much, it was worth the read for the information it g ...more
Apr 11, 2014 rated it did not like it
He's a brilliant scientist, and I highly respect his objectives, but his bitterness in this book is palpable. His attempts at humor come across as sneering rather than jest. He has contempt for NASA and humanity at large-- which doesn't make for compelling reading. After about half the book, I was so put off by his negativity I just put it down and forgot about it. ...more
Feb 25, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Premise: we've started to settle the planet Mars. This is a guidebook in English for settlers coming in to join the settling, a fictional setting for a non-fantastic speculation on how the problems of settlement will be overcome. Zubrin is a visionary, bold, and learned engineer who led the founding of the Mars Society. The guide is punctuated by meaty little bits of science. And it is a shower of engineering cheerfulness. No problem exists that cannot be solved by alertness, energy, enterprise ...more
M. Thomas Apple
Jul 18, 2020 rated it it was ok
Written as if it were a travel guide by a 22nd century Martian native, this tiny tome has interesting information about Mars and offers suggestions for how to survive and a combative "pioneer" manner.

The tone of the book is fairly snarky and sarcastic, and while at times it's humorous, the endless attacks on NASA quickly become tiresome. The ultra-libertarian nature of the author - and his personal prejudices, outdated misogynistic views on the value of women, and his comparison of n
Jacob Ladd
Jan 17, 2020 rated it really liked it
This guidebook was an excellent read! The humor made it accessible and readable in a way any similar "reference guide" to living on Mars would not be.

The only reason I rate this 4 stars instead of a full 5 is because of the extremely unnecessary chapter 15. There are a number of issues which I have with this chapter.

While Zubrin gives token acknowledgement to addressing female readers, it is clear through much of this chapter (especially in the horrible pickup-line section) that he mainly expect
Feb 14, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: mars

The book places the current (as of 2008) known science of Mars and proposed colonization ideas into the framework of a guidebook for someone interested in immigrating to a frontier settlement on Mars in the 22nd century.

In straight forward order, Zubrin starts with the logistics of getting to Mars, followed by supplies needed, housing, employment, government structures, social activities, and financial investing, mixing the known math and science with the speculated social and economic ideas wit
Sep 11, 2017 rated it really liked it
At first I was not really into this book. It starts off with a lot of (lame) jokes and not much science. Towards the middle of the book you start to dig in and get into the heavy material. The lighthearted advice becomes a welcome break from the chemistry and orbital logistics.
John Loucks
Nov 25, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Never before has the mind proven more productive

Great and creative blend of science fiction, science reality, compelling facts, compelling imagination, political satire, political wisdom. Entertaining, irreverent, and Serious.
Jan 12, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Funny and smart!
Bryan Janda
Mar 25, 2021 rated it liked it
It was good in the beginning it explained it very well but then I started losing interest it started getting complex and confusing how to live on Mars.
Wyatt Cooper
May 15, 2015 rated it really liked it
How to Live on Mars: A Trusty Guidebook to Surviving and Thriving on the Red Planet
By: Robert Zubrin
Published in 2008
Have you ever thought about what will happen when the human race reaches the carrying capacity of Earth? Will we just have a dieback and then rebuild back up and repeat the process? Well if you're one for not wanting to have to watch your friends and family die then maybe this book is the one for you to read.
Robert Zubrin makes a magnificent guidebook on how to survive on mars, w
Robert Spillman
Jul 14, 2013 rated it it was amazing
This book was written by a Martian. He was considerate in pointing out that he has no relationship with an individual with the same name living on Earth, and who happens to work at NASA. The book was written with a dry sense of humor but filled with actual facts and points about living on Mars. I have a science background and found the information factual and fascinating. It is presented in such a humorous manner that it blends in and you find yourself learning about the true challenges of a MAR ...more
Steven Gregor
May 15, 2015 rated it it was amazing
This was a very different take on what would ordinarily be a very dry subject rife with scientific jargon. He discusses viable means of traveling to, surviving, and prospering on Mars, along with the myriad of ways that a Martian colony could benefit mankind. The book is written in the guise of a primer for a future Martian immigrant in order to allow them to better integrate into the dangerous but lucrative society that they're about to enter.

For anyone who takes issue with the viewpoints of st
Apr 26, 2015 rated it really liked it
I've read a few books written by expats, telling others how to live successfully in a foreign land, so I can be pretty sure that it's true that this is the most useless book for expats I've ever seen. Not because it contains inaccurate information. No, quite the contrary. It's perfectly accurate, but it's Mars! You can try to be a stranger in a strange land if you like, but it will be a very long time before you can book passage there.

Like most attempts at humor, I think Zubrin finds it difficu
Lyndon Goodacre
Feb 07, 2009 rated it liked it
The writing is workable and the humor is mostly of the "look how stupid people are" sort (which according to research is the most common in American humor, but here it's a blunt instrument) in this scientific, pragmatic, and playful look at the reality of colonizing and terraforming Mars. If you warm up to the author's quirks, you'll find him very knowledgeable and the scenarios wonderful to imagine, and you may laugh in a blue moon - or often, if you're getting jokes I missed. However, I'd say ...more
Clinton Hopper
Jul 13, 2011 rated it liked it
If you’ve read Zubrin’s The Case for Mars, you’re aware of his rigorous science and compelling arguments for how and why we should pursue a Mars mission, followed by colonization. This book is meant, I assume, as an attempt at a slightly more popular, narrative means of presenting much of the same information. I just didn’t find the book that interesting and I’m concerned the disdainful, laze-faire attitude of the narrator makes Zubrin’s arguments and information seems untrustworthy (one needs o ...more
Chris White
Apr 10, 2013 rated it really liked it
How To Live On Mars is a handy little guidebook detailing everything you might need to know about your new home. Set one hundred odd years in the future, Zubrin adopts a LonelyPlanet-style voice for his guidebook, with topics ranging from How to Find a Partner to How to Get a Job. It's light and casual style makes it an easy read, and the heavy science sections are marked out at he end of each chapter. Fast and funny, coming from one of the pioneers and loudest voices arguing for the colonisatio ...more
Aug 20, 2009 rated it it was ok
Shelves: funny, scientastic
Conceived as a satire written as a guidebook to future settlers, this book is interesting but frustrating. Probably because Zubrin is so wacked that I can't tell the difference between his tongue-in-cheek jabs at modern American society and his earnest blueprint for the Martian future. Which, as far as I can tell, seems to be a radical libertarian free-for-all zone filled with rampant corruption, government by graft and croneyism, and rule by crime syndicate, all for a disgustingly value-free--a ...more
Patty Jansen
Dec 23, 2010 rated it really liked it
I chuckled my way through most of this. While it's meant to be non-fiction, and there is certainly a very large non-fictional basis for this book, a lot of the commentary is akin to fiction. The author's (assumed) opinions come through loud and clear, although I half-suspect he's taking the mickey a lot of the time.
I cannot help but wonder how Zubrin would do as a fiction writer.
Anyway, this is a fairly detailed account of what settlement on Mars might look like, based on solid science, with soc
I'm ready to start my life on Mars!

*sheepish grin* I was disappointed each time I had to put the book down for some reason and remembered that Mars isn't actually in the process of being colonized right now. Zubrin did an *excellent* job of making the idea of colonizing Mars seem realistic and very reasonable. (The occasional humor poked at today's science was just some subtle icing.)
Apr 03, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Highly interesting. I like the science aspect and how it discusses several different ways, in comparison to the most economical and/or most effective method of doing something (Obtaining metals from ore for example). Additionally I like how it maintains a very human aspect throughout the book regarding things like dress, housing, employment, and social activities.
Trey Nowell
Apr 17, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Made me laugh, but has some realistic ways that may become a reality living on Mars. I personally feel we will land there in about 20 years, probably and independent mission funded by a multi-millionaire. A lot of $ to be made mining sources here such as iron. I advise this for more advanced readers that know science, the ultimate book for geeks :)
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Robert Zubrin is an American aerospace engineer and author, best known for his advocacy of human exploration of Mars. He and his colleague at Martin Marietta, David Baker, were the driving force behind Mars Direct, a proposal in a 1990 research paper intended to produce significant reductions in the cost and complexity of such a mission.

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“...[C]ontrary to your Earth experience and its derived cynicism, on Mars, such things are possible. Yes, fully possible, even for you, a person who obviously was a complete social failure on Earth--otherwise you wouldn't be here.” 4 likes
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