Cover image for The martian race
The martian race
Benford, Gregory, 1941-
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
New York : Warner Books, [1999]

Physical Description:
340 pages : illustrations ; 24 cm
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From the Nebula Award-winning author of "Timescape" and "Foundation's Fear" comes a hard-science thriller about the race to Mars that will tie into NASA's upcoming landing on the planet.

Author Notes

Gregory Benford, was born on January 30, 1941 in Mobile, Alabama. He is a physicist and science fiction writer who earned his Ph.D. from the University of California, San Diego, in 1967. He is a Woodrow Wilson Fellow and a consultant for NASA.

Benford's first novel "Deeper than the Darkness" (1970), which was revised as "The Stars in Shroud" (1978), gave him notice as a serious Science Fiction writer. His most popular work is "Timescape" (1980), which was the winner of the Nebula and John W. Campbell Memorial Awards; it presented a hard physics approach to limited time travel. "In the Ocean of Night" (1977), "Across the Sea of Suns" (1984), "Great Sky River" (1987), "Tides of Light" (1989) and "Furious Gulf" (1994) were all a part of the Galactic Cluster Series. He has also written the juvenile novel "Jupiter Project" (1975), "Against Infinity" (1983) and the thriller "Artifact" (1985). He has been nominated for 12 Nebula Awards (winning for "Timescape" and for the novelette, "If the Stars are Gods").

Benford, writing alternately with Bruce Sterling, produces science fact articles for the Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction. They took over after the death of regular columnist Isaac Asimov. He has also co-edited theme anthologies with Martin H. Greenburg, which include "Hitler Victorious" (1986), "Nuclear War" (1988), "What Might Have Been, Volume 1: Alternate Empires" (1988), "Volume 2: Alternate Heroes" (1989) and "Volume 3: Alternate Wars."

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 4

Booklist Review

The recent race among sf writers to see who can write the best novel about Mars continues, and as one might expect, Benford's entry is a very fine one. It begins with a situation that could be drawn from any of a dozen space-advocacy potboilers. The NASA-manned Mars mission has a catastrophic failure, and a space-minded billionaire comes through to finance an alternative mission in time to beat a foreign consortium--nowadays, a European-Chinese one instead of an all-godless-commie crew. The novel's primary focus, however, is on the voyage of Julia Barth and her comrades, a long, long haul in a ship slightly above the bailing-wire-and-chewing-gum level in terms of repair. Technical problems, faulty personal interactions, and the Martian environment all challenge survival, but Benford is as expert as ever at seamlessly melding characterization, technology, and narrative drive in an effective novel that takes its place near the front of the pack of Martian-yarn contenders. --Roland Green

Publisher's Weekly Review

With so many Mars novels having been published in recent years, including award-winning fiction by Kim Stanley Robinson and others, it's hard to believe that even a talented writer like Benford (Cosm) could pull off another successful retelling of humanity's first expedition to the Red PlanetÄbut he does. In the early 21st century, after NASA's Mars program has been grounded because of a Challenger-like catastrophe, a $30 billion prize is announced to be awarded to the first private organization that can land a spaceship on Mars, do serious science and return in one piece. Enter John Axelrod, eccentric billionaire and space aficionado. His Consortium launches a bare-bones Mars expedition that is closely followed by a Chinese-European attempt, and the race for Mars is on. Landing on the Red Planet, veteran astronaut Julia Barth and her comrades run into difficulties. Their return craft has suffered serious damage and may not be repairable. Even if they can lift off, they discover that their nuclear-powered Chinese-European competitor, although launching later than they did, may have the sheer power necessary to return to Earth first. Then, after months of fruitless searching, Julia discovers evidence of life on Mars. Benford is a solid prose stylist who creates full-toned characters. A practicing physicist, he writes plausible hard SF as well as anyone on the planet, and his portrait of Mars is among the most believable in recent genre literature. His strange and beautiful Martian ecology is so well described, in fact, that most readers will hope to explore it further, in a sequel. (Dec.) FYI: The publication of The Martian Race will coincideÄhopefullyÄwith the scheduled December 3, 1999, touchdown of the Mars Polar Lander. (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

When two manned space shuttles land on Mars, competing for the $30 billion prize for the first to return to Earth, they also land in hot waterÄchances are that they might never make it back at all. From a Nebula award winner; just in time for NASA's forthcoming landing on Mars. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

School Library Journal Review

YA-After NASA fails in the attempt at a Mars mission, the race for the planet quickly shifts to two separate factions. A billionaire's crew consists of a married couple and two men, all highly trained in both the scientific and practical technology required to fly to Mars. They spend more than two years there in research, and fly back to Earth. This mission faces two major upheavals: the return vehicle is inoperable and a life-form is found on Mars. When the crew sponsored by a European-Chinese consortium arrives, the race is on to identify the life-form and return to Earth, until two of the researchers are discovered missing. Benford presents a realistic scenario of interplanetary science and discovery caught in the web of big business. While this theme permeates the plot, the author expertly weaves in the often tense and volatile relationships among crew members, subtly showing how the success of the misson depends on their mental, physical, and emotional stability. The depth of the characterizations, especially that of astronaut Julia Barth, along with the scientific base, also make this story ring true. Adventure, relationships, discovery, and the pursuit of fame and fortune all add up to a page-turner for teens who like their science fiction rooted solidly in science.-Pam Johnson, Fairfax County Public Library, VA (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.