The New Martians: A Scientific Novel (Science and Fiction)
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An exquisitely written story of human competition in a galaxy-spanning civilization. Journey Between Worlds , by Sylvia Engdahl updated reprint.
The Martian Review: Science Fiction That Respects Science Fact
A down-to-Earth young woman is forced to choose between the life she had planned for herself and a very different one presented to her on Mars. Leviathan Wakes , by James S. Corey This novel of human expansion into the solar system provided the basis for the TV series The Expanse. Leviathans of Jupiter , by Ben Bova Descriptions of life in the atmosphere of Jupiter are superbly creative and showcase the imaginative talents of the author.
A recommended anthology of a dozen stories about living on the new frontier of Mars.
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Lewis A flight handbook for the LTI, a spacecraft powered by beams from space solar power stations. Probably the first novel to describe realistically the effects of a comet striking the planet Earth. Lunar Descent , by Allen Steele A fun story with sex, drugs, and rock and roll on the Moon. Combines the detail and technical accuracy of Robinson with the human idealism of Heinlein and the action of Pournelle. The Martian , by Andy Weir Hard science fiction thriller about an astronaut stranded on Mars and struggling to survive.
Now a major motion picture starring Matt Damon. Another review of this book. Mission to Methone , by Les Johnson A prospecting mission finds an asteroid that turns out to be an ancient alien spacecraft.
The theme is near-term space travel in this anthology of 19 short science fiction stories. All are good reads.
Moon Beam , by Travis S. Taylor and Jody Lynn Nuy New Earth , by Ben Bova A fascinating journey to find a new world that addresses major questions about the existence of alien life. The Obligation , by Stephen Wolfe A Congressional staffer embarks on a philosophical dialogue on why we should settle space.
The Odyssey Series: , , , and , by Arthur C. Clarke The great saga of was expanded into three sequels. Well crafted story with a believable and likeable character, creative scientific ideas, and enough action to keep the plot moving. A murder mystery set on a realistic Titan in a new line of hard-science-based novels from Springer Publishing.
On the Steel Breeze , by Alastair Reynolds A thousand years in the future, mankind is making its way out into the universe on massive generation ships. Pillar to the Sky , by Bob Lee A cryptic interstellar message leads to a journey into the farthest reaches of space. Powersat , by Ben Bova mass market paperback. An enthralling tale of the first human journey to Mars, written in the late s, which attempts to communicate its feasibility with existing technology.
Proxima , by Stephen Baxter This tale of the settlement of Proxima Centauri is a marvel of SF world building. The Quantum Thief , by Hannu Rajaniemi Thoughtful fare set in a floating city hovering over Mars. Red Lightning , by John Varley A typical Martian teen, traveling to Earth to rescue his grandmother after a devastating tsunami, gets caught in interplanetary intrigue. Red Mars , by Kim Stanley Robinson A great science fiction epic that succeeds on a variety of levels, including technology, environment, and characterization. Red Moon , by Kim Stanley Robinson Fictional representations of Mars have been popular for over a century.
Interest in Mars has been stimulated by the planet's dramatic red color , by early scientific speculations that its surface conditions might be capable of supporting life , and by the possibility that Mars could be colonized by humans in the future. Almost as popular as stories about Mars are stories about Martians engaging in activity frequently invasions away from their home planet.
In the 20th century , actual spaceflights to the planet Mars, including seminal events such as the first man-made object to impact the surface of Mars in , and then later the first landing of "the first mechanized device to successfully operate on Mars" in in the Viking program by the United States , inspired a great deal of interest in Mars-related fiction. Exploration of the planet has continued in the 21st century on to the present day. Before the Mariner 4 spacecraft arrived at Mars in July and dispelled some of the more exotic theories about the planet, the conventional image of Mars was shaped by the observations of the astronomers Giovanni Schiaparelli , Camille Flammarion and Percival Lowell.
Mars in fiction - Wikipedia
Flammarion assumed its red surface came from red-colored vegetation,  and Schiaparelli observed what he took to be linear features on the face of Mars, which he thought might be water channels. Because the Italian for channels is canali , English translations tended to render the word as " canals ", implying artificial construction. Lowell's books on Mars expanded on this notion of Martian canals , and a standard model of Mars as a drying, cooling, dying world was established. It was frequently speculated that ancient Martian civilizations had constructed irrigation works that spanned the planet in an attempt at saving their dying world.
This concept spawned a large number of science fiction scenarios. The following works of fiction deal with the planet itself, with any assumed Martian civilization as part of its planetary landscape. Several early modern writers, including Athanasius Kircher — and Emanuel Swedenborg , hypothesized contact with Mars. Early science fiction about Mars often involved the first voyages to the planet, sometimes as an invasion force, more often for the purposes of exploration.
By the s, stories about reaching Mars had become somewhat trite, and the focus shifted to Mars as an alien landscape.
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In the following stories, human contact and basic exploration had taken place sometime in the past; Mars is a setting rather than a goal. Mariner 4 in July found that Mars—contrary to expectations—is heavily cratered, with a very thin atmosphere. No canals were found; while scientists did not believe that Mars was a moist planet, the lack of surface water surprised them. By the s, the ideas of canals and ancient civilizations had to be abandoned. Authors soon began writing stories based on the new Mars frequently treating it as a desert planet.
Most of these works feature humans struggling to tame the planet, and some of them refer to terraforming using technology to transform a planet's environment to be Earthlike. A common theme, particularly among American writers, is that of a Martian colony fighting for independence from Earth.
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It is also part of the plot of the movie Total Recall and the television series Babylon 5. A historical rebellion of Mars against Earth is also mentioned in the Star Trek series of novels, which are not considered canon. Eventually, if humans are to start living for extended periods on the moon, and eventually Mars, we need to be able to do experiments generating raw materials directly on their surfaces. There are already ideas to test our ability to grow food on the moon in small canisters, including basil and turnips. What plunges Watney into peril in the movie is an aborted mission in strong winds.
Here on Earth, we use the Beaufort scale to measure wind strength. Gale force winds have speeds up to 74km per hour.
Then try to imagine what it would be like at miles per hour as experienced by Watney and his fellow astronauts on Mars. On Earth this would be a devastating storm, but not on Mars. The pressure that you feel on your skin when out on a windy day is known as the dynamic pressure. It depends not only on how fast the air is moving, but also on its density. In gale force winds on Earth this pressure is about Pascals.
The force this exerts on an average person is about one-third of Earth gravity. This is why you have trouble walking about in gale force winds. The storm that Watney and his crew encounter would only feel like a gentle breeze — not the devastating storm shown in the film. Despite this, the wind and the sound it produces does actually have an important function in the film — it creates tension and allows us to empathise with Watney and feel his fear.
Even though this is a work of fiction, as a follower of Mars exploration I felt a tingle of excitement as Watney recovered the Mars Pathfinder , buried under a huge pile of dust. Measurements at the landing site of the Mars lander Phoenix have shown that dust settles out of the atmosphere at a rate of about 0. Over the 20 years Pathfinder has been on Mars, that only amounts to between 1 mm and 10 mm of accumulated dust. But this dramatic unearthing of Pathfinder pulls at the heart-strings of our exploration of Mars. All too often in science fiction the characters are placed in impossible situations from which they can only escape by resorting to a kind of scientific deus ex machina.