Going to Mars: Word-by-Word Bear Style

Nominated for the Nebula in 1986 and the Hugo and Locus in 1988, The Forge of God by Greg Bear is our next stop in this series Going to Mars: Word by Word. It is a grim, relentless examination of what might happen if an alien society of machines wanted to destroy the earth without regard or consideration for any of her inhabitants or history. Hop aboard for an exploration of Mars Bear Style.   WHAT IT’S ABOUT Europa explodes stunning astrologists. Chunks of the former moon hit Mars and Venus. Mountains suddenly appear in locations as diverse as the Australian Outback and the United States’ Death Valley stumping geologists. Oceanographers observe and track large meteor-like objects that enter the earth through the ocean’s trenches. Scientists, politicians, and everyday people struggle with the fact that the Earth will be destroyed by an unfathomable planet eater. A second race of robots select some people to gather and load what they can onto space-going arks. Among the saved are those who stood witness to the earth’s destruction. “It is the Law.” Awakened from nearly four hundred years of cryosleep, the survivors create a colony on New Mars. A select few of the […]

Going to Mars, Word by Word with Man Plus

The next stop on our Going to Mars, Word-by-Word tour is the Nebula award-winning novel, Man Plus by Fredrik Pohl, published in 1976. By the mid-seventies, Pohl had been writing and publishing stories for almost 40 years. The writing reflects that. Smoothly written, it is a quick and entertaining read.   THE SET-UP In reality the early 1970’s were a time of disco dances like the hustle, world wide unrest and fear of terrorist bombings, hijackings, kidnappings, and assassinations. There were economic worries and hardships and a huge energy crisis. The United States, USSR, and France were doing nuclear tests on their own soil. Space Mountain opened at Disneyland and Jaws by Steven Spielberg had its premier. The television show The Bionic Man was popular. Apollo 18 and Soyuz 19 rendezvoused in space. And the Viking 2 Mars probe was launched. Man Plus takes place in the not-too-distant future when the overpopulated earth is on the brink a world war battling over the few remaining natural resources on the planet. The fate of humanity rests on the people and the project inside a building in Tonka, Oklahoma.   WHAT IT’S ABOUT When former astronaut Col. Roger Torraway volunteered to be […]

Going to Mars Word By Word via a Time Slip

Published in 1964, Martian Time Slip by Phillip K. Dick (PKD) is a dark, moody story of tricks of the mind: delusions, hallucinations, power, and a time slip. It is simply told, but dated by socially unacceptable gender, racial, and ethnic descriptions. Despite the language, it has characters you want to succeed and characters you want to see get their comeuppance. Join me for the next book review in my Going to Mars Word by Word series.     WHAT IT’S ABOUT There are multiple colonies on Mars, each dominated by a different nationality or workgroup (plumbers, farmers, etc.) The colonies are officially run by the UN, but each settlement is controlled by the appropriate union boss. They are interdependent and separate communities connected by a series of canals. It is the scarcity of water that gives the plumbing union boss a stranglehold on Mars. Jack, a ‘recovered’ schizophrenic and a repairman, left earth to escape the pressures of an overpopulated Earth. Arnie Kott, the plumbing union boss, found the power and wealth on Mars that he would never have been able to achieve on Earth. These two men are brought together by the UN announcer’s emergency notification that a party […]