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Mapping Mars: Science, Imagination, and the…

Mapping Mars: Science, Imagination, and the Birth of a World

by Oliver Morton

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If you have the slightest interest in the exploration of the planet Mars, you'll find this book a fascinating read. ( )
  shoomg | Nov 22, 2009 |
Dad recommended this to me and, while interesting, and while I can see why he enjoyed it, I can't say I was wild about it.
The descriptions of Mars geology and the history of (and ongoing debate over) how Mars has evolved were well-written and interesting, but I can't say I cared much about the history of Mars in science fiction.

I can't put on finger on just why the whole seemed underwhelming, given that sections were so interesting; maybe it just felt padded, that if 30% had been tossed, the slimmer result would have been that much better a book. ( )
  name99 | Nov 11, 2006 |
I picked up this book expecting it to be sort of a comprehensive “traveler’s guide” to Mars (despite the book with that same name). Instead of giving me a blow-by-blow account of the wonders of individual named features, Oliver Morton provided a seemingly complete review of the geography and geology of Mars. He discusses the creation of Martian maps by Schappiarelli, Lowell and modern geologists. He talks about the spacecraft that have informed us about Mars. He then introduces us to the major people behind Martian science. His book attempts to make Mars something concrete and sensible and to give dimension to flatness of the images through which we perceive it. Almost immediately upon picking up the book, I found that childlike glee about Mars again. I’ve felt it a couple of other times, when I read KSR’s Mars series, and also after reading Zubrin’s Case for Mars. In fact, those three books (along with my fervent belief in the power of science obtained from Sagan) nicely encapsulate when I want to devote my life to helping humans get to Mars. To sum up Mapping Mars’s contribution to my current high enthusiasm, I would have to say that it’s completely responsible. I am excited about my career again, and I’m refocused. I have a great review of the current state of Martian science under my belt. Enough so that I am going to write a fairly long paper here pretty soon that will sort of formalize everything for me. I’m energized, enthused, and excited. ( )
  anthonares | Sep 16, 2005 |
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 031242261X, Paperback)

As Oliver Morton shows in his superb new book, Mapping Mars, Mars has clouds, winds, and shorelines. It has river valleys, mountains, volcanoes, and even glaciers. Even were it lifeless, it could support life, albeit of an almost unimaginably marginal kind. What Mars lacks is places. There are no "theres" there, nor will there be--until our feet make an impact on its soil.

Oliver Morton has a sense of place and a hunger for Mars, and a thrilling manner of communicating both. His account of our nearest neighbor's history, geology, and human potential is exhaustive. Morton touches on just about everything, from soil composition to survival techniques; from Martians to maps (maps, above all: they are his abiding subject, metaphor, and organizing principle). His artistry is to hide his daunting range of interests under a passionate and gripping human narrative: this book is about what Mars has meant, means, and may one day mean for us. And he has a wide-ranging definition of who "we" are. Like a good military historian, Morton knows to pay attention to the foot soldiers of science, as well as to the achievements of their celebrated masters. He understands how different the sciences are from each other, and how rivalries between them arise. Further, Morton understands where these people and their institutions sit in the general culture. He understands the crossover between science and science fiction, between space advocates and space fans.

All of which makes Morton's book something more than just "the story of Mars." It is, in addition, an astute study of how we go about exploring our world. --Simon Ings

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:24:59 -0400)

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Who are the extraordinary individuals that will take us on the next great space race, the next great human endeavor, our exploration and colonization of the planet Mars? And more importantly, how are they doing it? Acclaimed science writer Oliver Morton explores the peculiar and fascinating world of the new generation of explorers: geologists, scientists, astrophysicists and dreamers. Morton shows us the complex and beguiling role that mapping will play in our understanding of the red planet, and more deeply, what it means for humans to envision such heroic landscapes. Charting a path from the 19th century visionaries to the spy-satellite pioneers to the science fiction writers and the arctic explorers -- till now, to the people are taking us there -- Morton unveils the central place that Mars has occupied in the human imagination, and what it will mean to realize these dreams. A pioneering work of journalism and drama, Mapping Mars gives us our first exciting glimpses of the world to come and the curious, bizarre, and amazing people who will take us there. This pioneering work of journalism and drama by an acclaimed science writer is an eloquent and insightful study of the role that "mapping"--geography, geology, and blind human ambition--will play in the exploration of Mars. 16-page color insert.… (more)

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