Throwback Thursdays: Mars Life: Mankind’s Future in Space
Ben Bova’s New Earth just came out last month, and in honor of that, we wanted to share his article about Mars Life, the third book in his Mars series. Enjoy this blast from the past, and be sure to check back every other Thursday for more!
Written by Ben Bova
Mars hangs in our night sky like a red jewel, gleaming, beckoning. It is the most Earthlike of all the worlds in our solar system. We have sent robotic spacecraft to Mars, orbiters and landers; roving vehicles that trundle across its bitterly cold rust-red sands, automated laboratories to search for signs of life.
Someday we will send human explorers to Mars.
Mars Life is the story of those explorers; in particular it is the story of Jamie Waterman and his lifelong quest to discover the long-hidden secrets of Mars.
Jamie Waterman is a geologist. His father was a Navaho, his mother a descendant of the Mayflower Pilgrims. For Jamie, Mars and Earth—the red world and the blue—represent the conflict between the Navaho and Anglo worlds, a conflict that has raged within his soul all his life.
Jamie’s tale began in my 1992 novel, Mars, and continued in Return to Mars (1999). Mars Life completes this trilogy of completely realistic novels about the first humans to explore the red planet. In a sense, these novels are not science fiction so much as a credible, lifelike saga that presents a totally accurate picture of Mars—and of the men and women who will one day explore this frozen dry desert world.
Think of them as historical novels that haven’t happened yet.
Although Mars is a barren, frigid world today, we know that the planet was once much warmer and wetter. Water flowed through the rocks, leaving telltale traces that robotic instruments have detected. There might once have been a sizeable sea on Mars, a sea in which life might have arisen.
In Mars Life, Jamie Waterman and his fellow explorers have uncovered the buried remains of a Martian village. Intelligent creatures once inhabited Mars, but they were wiped out in a cataclysmic meteor strike similar to the one that killed off the dinosaurs on Earth some 65 million years ago.
On Mars, the small band of scientists struggle to survive—and to learn about the long-extinct Martians. On Earth, powerful ultraconservative political forces and fanatic terrorists are willing to commit murder to end the exploration of Mars.
Mourning the death of their teenaged son, Jamie and his wife return to Mars, determined to stay on the red planet, dedicated to bringing life back to Mars.
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