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The Martian Race

(Adventures of Viktor & Julia #1)

3.73  ·  Rating details ·  867 ratings  ·  61 reviews
When the rocket launching the Mars Transit Vehicle into orbit explodes on the launch pad, killing four crewmen, the President announces the U.S. will redirect its energies to near-Earth projects. The manned mission to Mars is officially dead. That is until billionaire John Axelrod steps in to fund the project. Although the risks are high, several young astronauts sign on. ...more
Paperback, 444 pages
Published January 1st 2001 by Aspect (first published 1999)
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Average rating 3.73  · 
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 ·  867 ratings  ·  61 reviews

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Nov 09, 2007 rated it liked it
Shelves: scifi
I just read whatever this guy writes and am never disappointed, this book no exception.

Reread 2020, This was like a completely new read, I did not remember anything in the book. And the rating suffers. Taking it down 2 notches to a 3 Star decent but not outstanding book. The first 300 pages were pretty blah, the "race" (double meaning) only gets interesting later and never really gets the attention it deserved. I wanted to read it because I have the sequel unread and now I'm not sure Viktor and
Feb 23, 2013 rated it liked it
You've got to hand it to Benford. If you want hard sf, go to a pro. Unfortunately, even with what should be a lot of human tension and drama, and the appearance of an alien the like of which we haven't seen since James White's Sector General series, it's still about as dry as the Martian air.

The Martian Race plays the trick of moving forward from two points in the story at once, alternating between chapters about the prelaunch to Mars and the preparation for return. The drama is all about wheth
Jamie Collins
A sci-fi novel published in 1999, which “offers a portrayal of how humanity might explore Mars in the near future, at low cost and with foreseeable technology.” The writing is decent, if not elegant, and the story held my interest.

An international consortium has offered a $30 billion prize to the first team to complete a successful manned mission to Mars. When a disaster forces NASA out of the contest, an American entrepreneur steps in and essentially turns the mission into a hugely successful r
Dan Carey
Apr 11, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I am a candidate for Mars One's mission to colonize Mars in the next decade. ( Reading The Martian Race (especially the first third) was like reading the Mars One playbook. Benford drew heavily on the work of Dr. Robert Zubrin and the Mars Society (especially Zubrin's book The Case For Mars), so the science and engineering are very solid. That said, this book can be a little hard to get into, because it bounces back and forth between the main character's past and present. Wh ...more
Jul 11, 2019 rated it liked it
Interesting science- anaerobic life on Mars! And the billionaire who invested in a rocket to Mars for a $30 billion prize was amusing (although he didn't mean to be). Otherwise, a bit stilted and naïve, not unexpected considering when it was written. ...more
Charles Daney
Oct 28, 2017 rated it liked it
Given that initial human exploration (and eventual colonization) of Mars is seemingly close to becoming a reality in two decades, possibly less, there's considerable interest in vicariously experiencing what this might be like. After all, the prospects of civilization's survival on Earth itself seem bleaker with every passing year. So unsurprisingly, readers of science fiction have been able to get realistic previews of what Martian exploration and colonization could look like, from prominent wr ...more
Ken Doggett
This is a story of a future space race, a race to Mars, and the winner who returns with the proper amount of scientific research and a payload of areological, biological, and other samples retrieved from the Martian surface wins the payoff of $30 billion offered by combined funding from a few advanced industrial nations. A wheeler-dealer by the name of John Axelrod puts together the first team to lift off and make its way to Mars. A second team, called "Airbus," apparently with Chinese backing, ...more
Aug 10, 2013 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sf-fantasy, 2013
While Gregory Benford writes in the 'Acknowledgements' that he hopes to "sound a note of realism in the sub-genre of exploration novels", The Martian Race contains a fair amount of conjecture and sheer whimsy, particularly towards the end, when 'life' is discovered on the Red Planet.

Unfortunately, this causes the plot to slow to a crawl, as Benford runs through what feels like a xeno-biological primer. Up to this point, though, The Martian Race is a taut and quite believable account of how priva
Apr 14, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: sci-fi-fantasy
This was an enjoyable book though Mr. Benford's style takes a little getting used to. It's not bad but I found his stilting use of short sentences and fragments a little staccato and jarring. The story is good, but not necessarily excellent, though it did remind me somewhat of 2010 (the movie, never read the novel) -- excitment without anything really happening (until the end). As a science buff I quite enjoyed the novel and I definitely agree with the motto, Mars in Our Time. ...more
Oct 05, 2015 rated it it was ok
Shelves: own, black, fiction
I told myself I had to read the fiction about Mars that was already in my shelf before I bought The Martian. This book was fine, but when you can't appreciate the hard scifi aspects as much as they deserve, you're left with the characters or the prose, both of which, in this case, seemed to serve mostly as a delivery vehicle for speculation about the red planet. ...more
Sep 26, 2008 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sf
The opening chapters setting up the history are a bit predictable but once they get to Mars things get going and the story really takes off. Loved the description of Mars. Benford also raises the question of whether the quest for Mars will be a race for money or co-operation in Space.
Jan 20, 2011 rated it liked it
Easy read, and the writer obviously did some research to make it seem more realistic. I'd love to see a Mars X-Prize in reality! I think the only reason I felt it was 3, rather than 4 was because it was so straightforward (but exactly what I was in the mood for). ...more
Sep 11, 2012 rated it really liked it
It's interesting how scifi dates but this is still a good read and ironically it may turn out to be prophetic as to how we reach Mars in the end with the announcement this year of a gameshow designed to fund a man mission to Mars! ...more
Paul Barton
Apr 15, 2009 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Oh dear, this is poor. The writing style is juvenile and the content lame. Sorry but with Iain M Banks for competition, sci-fi writers have to do better than this.
Kyle Gambrel
Feb 10, 2014 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sci-fi
For my personal tastes, too much science and not enough story. Save a couple scenes, there was never much tension. Still, an interesting read.
This is classic Benford. You've got your one-dimensional bad guy who's motives are contrived to fit the plot. Then there's some hard science fiction with rockets and stuff. Plus, chauvinism in space! ...more
Amy Mayhem
Oct 16, 2015 rated it it was ok
Shelves: dnf
Boring. Can't believe I made it through 100 pages. Just kept on NOT GETTING BETTER. ...more
James Tittle
Nov 21, 2015 rated it really liked it
It was OK. For the amount of time I had to wait to get it from the library, one would think it was an amazing book. I think it was Ok but not amazing...
AJ Nelson
I like hard SF but this was just dry. Might be OK for a die-hard Benford fan or if you just can't get enough on mars colonization. ...more
Paul Weiss
Sep 16, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: science-fiction
Perhaps not fiction for too much longer ... we can but hope!

Congress just couldn't stomach NASA's estimated $450 billion price tag to send a manned mission to Mars. So the USA and a group of other interested countries agreed on a different approach - a $30 billion prize to the first people that went to Mars and returned with a completed set of specified scientific explorations including geologic mapping, seismic testing, studies of atmospheric phenomena, core samples and, of course, searches for
Dec 18, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I really enjoyed this book. There's something of a hook at the beginning, but otherwise the first third or so seems to really just be setting the stage for the rest. Most of the action occurs fairly spaced out until near the end, but despite that, the character-driven writing made it an engaging read an hard to put down.

I was surprised when I finished to learn it was released twenty years ago; Benford did a fine job writing for the future (most of the book takes place last year, in 2018), and it
Kerry Hennigan
Jan 16, 2021 rated it liked it
A solid science-based SF novel from Gregory Benford, about the first expedition to Mars. In fact, it's a race between private, commercial operators, and the winner not only has to get there, but they have to return. The narrative follows Julia and her husband Viktor and their team as they work to stay ahead of their Airbus rivals. But there comes a time for Julia when science, and being a scientist, is more important than winning a race.

It takes about 300 pages for the pace to pick up in this ta
Steve Bender
Feb 01, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Good hard SF story about the first expedition to Mars. US gives up and so an international prize is set up to encourage a scientific expedition to Mars and back. Good story as well as science. Highly recommended.
Dec 22, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: sci-fi, fiction
Well written hard sci-fi. Just like I enjoy.
Feb 21, 2018 rated it really liked it
Great book by my friend Greg Benford. I really like his treatment of life on Mars with a small landing party and the struggles they go through. I recommend this book whole-heartedly!
May 26, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Blueprint for an actual Mars mission in the guise of a novel? A compelling (and convincing read). Terrific book!
Atif Khan
This is good book
Matteo Boschi
Great near realistic exploration novel! Really liked it
Nicole Tilley
Nov 18, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Really enjoyed this one. Being a science nerd I loved that part along with the curiosity this sparked.
Denise DeVries
Jan 11, 2021 rated it it was amazing
I liked the characters and the science in the book. In the end, I wanted to know more about the important discovery.
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Gregory Benford is an American science fiction author and astrophysicist who is on the faculty of the Department of Physics and Astronomy at the University of California, Irvine.

As a science fiction author, Benford is best known for the Galactic Center Saga novels, beginning with In the Ocean of Night (1977). This series postulates a galaxy in which sentient organic life is in constant warfare wit

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Adventures of Viktor & Julia (2 books)
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