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The Sands of Mars by Arthur C. Clarke

The Sands of Mars (1952)

by Arthur C. Clarke

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1,0111913,471 (3.54)29
In Clarke's first published full-length science fiction novel, renowned science fiction writer Martin Gibson joins the spaceship Ares, the world's first interplanetary ship for passenger travel, on its maiden voyage to Mars. His mission: to report back to the home planet about the new Mars colony and the progress it has been making.First published in 1951, before the achievement of space flight, Clarke addresses hard physical and scientific issues with aplomb-and the best scientific understanding of the times. Included are the challenges of differing air pressures, lack of oxygen, food provisions, severe weather patterns, construction on Mars, and methods of local travel-both on the surface and to the planet's two moons.… (more)



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English (17)  Italian (2)  All languages (19)
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Enjoyable terraforming and exploration story. Definitely shows some age. ( )
  brakketh | Jan 1, 2020 |
Former SF writer turned journalist Martin Gibson is given the honor of being the first and only passenger aboard the cruise ship Ares on its journey from Earth to Mars. His task is to chronicle both his travels and his time on the red planet and report back on the progress of the Earth colony there.

Despite a challenging launch to Gibson's adventure—during which he learns just how much actual space flight differs from what he'd imagined in his novels—he eventually befriends the crew and, to his consternation, discovers a personal connection to the youngest of them, Jimmy Spencer.

While en route to Mars, the Ares is contacted by Earth and told to expect a rocket containing a vital serum intended to battle Martian Fever. However, the rocket’s course is such that the odds of intercepting it are slim unless the Ares is able to contact the rocket's navigational transceiver and adjust its course. With some jury rigging of equipment, two of the crewman accomplish the mission and the serum is procured.
Destined to land on the Martian moon of Phobos, the Ares is inexplicably diverted to Deimos where it lands and transfers Gibson, his luggage, and supplies to a rocket which will take him to the surface of Mars.

At first, Gibson finds himself unimpressed by the alien landscape and the domed town of Port Lowell, the largest city on Mars. However, as the days pass, Gibson warms to the place and begins to explore—with results that could change the evolution of the red planet and turn Mars into mankind's second home... if only Earth could be convinced to cooperate.

The Sands of Mars was Arthur C. Clarke's first finished novel, but was published after Prelude to Space, and the similar concept of a writer hired to report on an expedition was obvious. However, unlike Prelude to Space—with its utter lack of tension and plot—The Sands of Mars was an engaging story with interesting characters (something Clarke was not always known for) and enough foreshadowing, twists, and turns to hold my attention until the end. Clarke did not belabor the reader with lengthy infoblocks of scientific jargon, but kept a steady pace, revealing just enough scientific fact to maintain credibility. ( )
  pgiunta | Dec 7, 2017 |
Still a good read, despite some of the incorrectness of the science. I especially liked the assertion that there aren't any mountains on Mars. ( )
  Jon_Hansen | Apr 9, 2017 |

a Clarke novel that I definitely had not read before - and I thought I had raided the Belfast library system of its entire stock of his works when I was a teenager. Though bound second in my omnibus volume, it was Clarke's first published novel, dating from 1951. It's set a few years after the establishment of a Mars colony; the journalist protagonist (who is also an sf novelist) is being sent as what we'd now call an embedded member of the team, to write up what is going on in humanity's new outpost; the details of how journalism is technically done have dated far more than the rest of the book - there is a loving detailed description of a fax machine, an unimaginable technological advance in 1951, archaic for us in 2016. It's also a rare case of Clarke attempting to inject some emotional energy into his story, with one of the crew members turning out to be the protagonist's long-lost biological son, who then falls in love with the only girl on Mars; characteristically, having laid out the situation, the author doesn't dwell on it (and didn't really try this kind of narrative trick again in his career). He's on much more comfortable political ground when the discovery of a new form of Martian life upsets the balance of relations between the Martian base and its Earth master's, though here again his viewpoint is firmly rooted in what's good for the human colonists rather than the indigenous Martians. Still, I enjoyed it, and I'm surprised that this took me decades to track down. ( )
  nwhyte | Dec 11, 2016 |
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» Add other authors (11 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Clarke, Arthur C.primary authorall editionsconfirmed
Binkley, RicCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Davies, Gordon C.Cover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Schulz, RobertCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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'So this is the first time you've been upstairs?' said the pilot, leaning back idly in his seat so that it rocked to and fro in the gimbals.
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