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