Tuesday, October 29, 2013

"The Sands of Mars" by Arthur C. Clarke

I first saw this book at a used book store and decided to buy it based on the author alone. Arthur C. Clarke is regarded as one of the fathers of modern science fiction, inspiring generations of incredible writers. I had to get a look at his work for myself. (Note the 25¢ sticker, which suggests it was offered up at a garage sale at some point in its life.)

Summary: In this adventure we follow our unlikely hero, Martin Gibson. He is commissioned to visit the Mars colony and write a series of articles for the public back home. He is the only passenger on the maiden voyage of the spaceship Ares and becomes familiar with the skeleton crew. When he reaches Mars he befriends several colonists and explores the various outposts. Soon he stumbles upon a huge secret previously hidden from Earth and has to decide what to do with the information.

Also, Clarke describes a lot of the science behind colonization and the precautions people have to take to ensure their safety. He uses this 1952 to help people imagine the future that seemed so inevitable at the time and make them comfortable with the idea of space travel.

What I liked: Clarke treats this fictional account as a serious prediction of one possible future. It's not pie in the sky whimsy, but an attempt to imagine the world of his children and grandchildren. That makes the text feel very real and immersive. Clarke also adds interpersonal drama and some exciting discoveries to make the story more than a simple tale of interplanetary sightseeing.

What I Didn't Like: This was published in 1952, so there was a lot of guesswork regarding the Martian surface. He gets some basic facts wrong because no one knew better at the time. Also, despite the fact Clarke writes really well about machines and space, he struggles writing about human psychology in this book.

Rating: This is worth reading if you are curious about classic sci-fi.

Other Books Read By This Author: None.

Reviewed By: Nick

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