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Mars Life

(The Grand Tour #17)

3.75  ·  Rating details ·  825 ratings  ·  80 reviews
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 ...more
Hardcover, 432 pages
Published August 5th 2008 by Tor Books (first published January 1st 2008)
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3.75  · 
Rating details
 ·  825 ratings  ·  80 reviews

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Roger Bailey
Imagine that you were a scientist exploring Mars and you discovered the ruins of an extinct civilization. Then imagine that you discovered unrefutable fossils. This would cause quite a sensation back on Earth, wouldn't it? Don't count on it if right-wing religionists are in power. Imagine that you present your undeniable hard evidence and they call it just scientist propaganda to force an unproven theory down their throats just like Darwinism. Then imagine that on Earth the effects of global war ...more
Jim Cherry
Jan 14, 2009 rated it it was amazing
I’ve been waiting for this book for a long time! I was left with the shimmering image of pueblo in a Martian cliff in Bova’s Return to Mars in 2000. I wanted to read this ending chapter in Bova’s Mars trilogy for so long that I resorted to e-mailing Dr. Bova to ask him if he was going to finish the Mars trilogy or had he given up interest in Mars in favor of his “grand tour” series of novels about the solar system. This may be the reply to my e-mail!

Mars Life is an epic novel taking place on Mar
Apr 08, 2009 rated it it was ok

I don't know what happened to this book. I was riveted to Ben Bova's MARS when I first read it, and was so sad when it ended, and then so happy with the sequel, and then I couldn't believe it when I saw this book on the shelf at the library. Gah! It's dull, dull, dull.

I've caught wind of Ben Bova's nervousness about the coming New Morality, and I've encountered it in some of his other books (SATURN, maybe) but I didn't realize it's his thing now. It's a preposterous, overly complicat
Dec 30, 2009 rated it liked it
Shelves: sci-fi
Unfortunately, Ben Bova seems to be going slightly off the deep end with some of his political and environmental ideas. While his mythical greenhouse cliff and New Morality have always been a part of the Grand Tour series, they now seem to be just a chance for him to rant and rave, rather than being an actual part of the story. The ironic thing to me is that he attributes government takeovers and conspiracies to the ultra conservative religious right (as he calls them). But, if you take everythi ...more
Patrick Hayes
Jan 06, 2012 rated it really liked it
A really cool "realistic" book. In the near future, Global Warming has decimated the US and the ultra conservative religious right have gained political power (so much so that Darwin is not taught in schools), and the 200 scientists on Mars are being recalled due to budgetary issues. That's when cliff dwellings are found...and then a bone. What then follows is a tale of power: on Mars and on Earth, and can the knowledge that there was once life on the red planet come back to Earth? I wish that t ...more
Sep 06, 2009 rated it really liked it
Shelves: sci-fi-fantasy
I like this one enough to review it on the blog.

Due to global warming and the decimation of resources, arid areas have become floodplains, the prairies have become desert, and much of the coastline has been lost to much higher water levels. It’s hell on Earth, and sufficient monetary pressure on governments and big business to either donate or make money off the backs of refugees.

Meanwhile, in an increasingly fundamentalist USA, funding for the Mars program is cut and leaders from the religious
May 01, 2012 rated it liked it
The ending to this trilogy was a bit of a disappointment.
Nothing really happens in this book.
(view spoiler)
Two big issues in this book are climate change and the battle between religion and science.
Both of these, in my opinion, are effed out and boring.
What's worse, they are taken, in this book, to absurd extremes.
(view spoiler)
Sep 06, 2008 rated it it was ok
No offense to Mr. Bova, but I bailed out after 80 pages. Mars is a great topic for speculative fiction, and the science is there, but the characters are too adversarial and petty for the story to be believable, IMHO. The thought of setting up a base on Mars is much more plausible, in comparison. When we get there for real, I'm convinced that there will be far more cooperation to get the job done. There's just too many other books and things to do for me to slog through to the end, alas. Maybe ne ...more
Nov 20, 2008 rated it it was ok
I don't know ... something about this book just didn't sit well with me. It's a hard sf novel about Mars, which normally I can't resist, but ...

Maybe it's the fact that each chapter is less than three pages long. It seems like a cheater's way to make the book seem longer.

Or maybe it's the strained way Bova tries to align the ancient Martians with the ancient Navajo.

I don't know, but I'll say that I struggled to get through this one.
Oct 03, 2008 rated it liked it
Written in his usual competent style, it's a little slim on story line, but does bring up some scary probabilities about the possible effects of the combination of global warming and creationism fanatics on science and space exploration in particular.
Mar 01, 2009 rated it it was ok
Shelves: science-fiction
Thought to try a novel for a change. Plowing through this, seems longer than it needs to be, a lot of reiteration of the same points, same phrases over and over, tiring. Ending was anticlimatic and disappointing. Guess that's why I like short stories.
Sep 09, 2019 rated it really liked it
Mars Life continues the story set out in Mars and Return to Mars, with much the same setting and characters (particularly of the latter). Seventeen books in, there's little particularly surprising about Mars Life, but it's still a solid enough entry to the series.

For the most part, we're back to dealing with the New Morality (which makes me wonder about the timeline a bit) and greenhouse flooding on Earth. In particularly how they just want to put their heads in the sand and ignore concrete evi
Apr 11, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: own-in-print, space
Not sure what I was expecting when picking this one up, but, I feel rather dissapointed upon finishing. The book itself was well written, and the characters had depth; but, the plot line itself was lacking the return on investment for a moderately longer novel. It had the potential to be more interesting (why I kept reading), but not much came of it. It reminded me of the dryer W.E.B. Griffin novels, mostly soap opera drama built around interesting events. Never really reaching much of a climax ...more
Durval Menezes
Jul 07, 2019 rated it liked it
Good to 'see' Jamie Waterman again; I think he's one of Bova's most interesting characters. This novel also had a lot of other things going for it -- but the ending was quite weak, specially the weird 'solution' found by the main character for his dilemma, which read as no solution at all. I'm kinda disappointed as I was expecting a great book, but this was just ok.
Jul 24, 2018 rated it liked it
Kind of a silly ending for a decent book. It comes to this point where is like "and they all agreed and were happy, the end"
Apr 22, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Kind of an anticlimax. Some people argue and then nothing much happens.
Phil Giunta
Mar 18, 2011 rated it really liked it
The exploration of Mars has become a source of fervent contention between dedicated scientists and an extremist Christian order known as The New Morality (an organization present in many, if not all, of Bova's "Grand Tour" series novels).

Bova picks up the story on Mars as narcissistic anthropologist Carter Carleton, whose reputation on Earth is tarnished by charges of sexual assault on a student, uncovers a bone fragment in what is considered an ancient Martian village previously discovered by J
Alex Shrugged
If you have read the previous Mars books from Ben Bova, "Mars" and "Return to Mars", then you know how this book will go. Ben Bova manages to maintain the quality of the story. This is always a problem in a sequel, but these books are part of a greater series... the Grand Tour. You can tell there is more of a backstory going on but you don't need to read the other books to follow the Mars sub-series.

The story: The religious right has taken over most of the United States government positions and
Steven Brandt (Audiobook-Heaven)
It has now been 20 years since the first expedition to Mars, and Ben Bova has accordingly advanced the technology of the time. The new torch ships, powered by nuclear fusion, can reach Mars in only four days, as opposed to the six month journeys of the early expeditions. The scientists also have new nano-suits, which are much thinner and more flexible than the old hard suits. There is now a team of some 200 scientists, with a regular chain of supply ships coming and going. On the planet itself, ...more
May 27, 2014 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Hard Science-Fiction fans
What I love about Ben Bova's writing is that it is fast-paced, moving the plot and characters forward with a relentless energy that neither feels rushed nor overwhelming. With Mars Life, Ben Bova does the very same again, delivering a gripping story that never falters in the above-mentioned forward momentum.

Ancient cliff dwellings have been found on Mars, though no signs of life are present. Determined to find the Martian village that must have existed, Carter Carleton works tirelessly on the s
Jake Cohen
May 14, 2014 rated it liked it
This one took a while to get into, more so than previous books in the series. I didn't really get into it until maybe 20% through.

While the narrative interest picked up a bit, it still feels like not much happened in this book. There is some sinister political maneuvering by the New Morality, and the return of the conflict of possible Mars tourism that we saw in Return to Mars.

There really isn't any further character development of the recurring characters (Jamie Waterman, VJ Shektar, Dex Trumba
May 20, 2012 rated it it was ok
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Oct 25, 2011 rated it liked it
Shelves: science-fiction
Book 3 of the Mars trilogy in Ben Bova's grand tour series. This book follows on about 20 years after the second book and the mars expedition has expanded to 200+ people. But, money is being cut off due to pressure from ultraconservative christian fundamentalists who practically control the government.

Some good science fiction exploration stuff here but the book ends quite suddenly and I would expect that there will be a 4th volume in the Mars story. As such, I only give it 3 stars because I did
Jul 29, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audio-read, read-2017
Since I picked this up as an Audiobook I didn't realize it was actually the third in a series. But after having read it, have put the first two books on my TBR pile for sure! I'm hoping to get my hands on the audiobooks for those two as well. After I start a series in one way, I like to keep experiencing it that way. Though this was the third in the series, I did not find myself lost as to what was up in this advanced Earth society, where the Moon is its own colony and had a War to separate itse ...more
Leigh Kimmel
Jan 11, 2017 rated it really liked it
Yes, it has a happy ending, although there are enough threads left open that the author could return to it again. The role of the Navajo protagonist makes me think of the Cherokee protagonist in David Brin's Sundiver. Both struggle to balance living in the modern world with staying true to their heritage.

My biggest complaint is the unthinking use of the "all Christianity is Catholicism" trope. The New Morality seems to be modeled upon the Moral Majority, yet it is headed by an Archbishop and oth
Feb 08, 2015 rated it liked it
Shelves: audible
This book is a sci-fi novel with the theme of religion versus science. Science is represented by the planetary explorers of Mars, who are studying the planet after discovery of 60 million year old human-like life. A group of earthly religious fundamentalists has become so politically powerful that it can determine the outcome of elections. New Morality leadership sees the archeological work being done on Mars as a threat to its core religious beliefs--it wants the project shut down. I believe it ...more
May 21, 2012 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Scifi reader interested in reality scifi.
I enjoyed reading this book and finished it in a couple of weeks. The story was compelling to me and other than the story line revolving around discovering 65 million year old Martian remains on the planet, it was extremely technically realistic. It also dealt with the politics of financing Mars missions as well as the politics of the right wing fundamentalist movement and their total ignorance of science and reality while they attempt to convert the world to their small perspective on reality. ...more
Sep 17, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Great addition to Bova's Grand Tour novels, specifically the Mars book. I really like how Bova was able to weave the excitement of colonizing and exploring Mars with the real world concerns back on Earth of just how economically feasible it would be to do so. The main protagonist (Jamie Waterman) really stands out as a solid character to drive many of the plot points, both pro and con Mars exploration, while everything else just kind of plays off of that. If you in any way like the subject of as ...more
David Segrove
May 11, 2013 rated it it was ok
Definitely the weakest book in the Bova Mars series. Jamie Waterman has returned to Mars in an attempt to save the two decades old mission from being shut down by an ultra-religious government who don't want Darwinism promoted in the US.

Though a reflection of the extremes of our times, the story feels rushed. Waterman has become selfish and very self-centered. Other characters, including those from earlier in the series, are very shallow and one-dimensional.

Following the discovery of cliff dwel
Jun 06, 2014 rated it it was ok
I found Mars Life to be a disappointing addition to Ben Bova's Mars books. I enjoyed the science and politics challenges and creative solutions for Mars exploration, particularly in the first two books. This one, however, was totally spoiled for me by the fairly ridiculous characters and extreme characterization of the "new morality" political movement. The characters were never his strong suit, never very deep, but it was ok in the first two because the story was so great. But this one was tota ...more
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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

Other books in the series

The Grand Tour (1 - 10 of 22 books)
  • Powersat (The Grand Tour, #1)
  • Privateers (The Grand Tour, #2; Privateers, #1)
  • Empire Builders (The Grand Tour, #3; Privateers, #2)
  • Mars (The Grand Tour, #4)
  • 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 Old Ones knew that life is not rare, but precious; not fragile, but vulnerable. Life is as deep as the seas in which it was born, as strong as the mountains that give it shelter, as universal as the stars themselves.” 11 likes
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