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Mars Underground by William K. Hartmann
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
The basic underlying story of the old timer explorer of Mars who disappears and the search that follows is very well written and if the author had cut the book back to 225-250 pages, leaving out some of the mind-numbing long descriptions of the inner thoughts of various characters, it would have boosted the book up to a 4 star level in my opinion. The techy search is good and well worth the descriptive paper. The attempts to sabotage the search for various reasons is also well done. So, as a reader of science fiction for over 50 years, I would say, skim through the late night bedroom rendezvous, unless that’s why you read Sci-Fi. Skim over also the mental contortions of the central characters and concentrate on what is the underlying faster moving plot. Eat up the surface walks and the rides in the dune buses across the uncharted dust seas with their cyclonic dust devils. Devour the descriptions of light and the hazards that exist in a world where preparation for the journey is everything because, without sufficient protection, food, water and, oh, yes, oxygen, you aren’t going to come back to spin tales of aliens. In the ending, I could have used a bit more descriptive work by the author on the alien vessel to perhaps bring me back for a sequel. Where did that shining projectile that approached the speed of light as it departed Mars actually go? Was it a messenger? Was anything on the receiving end? A lot of questions remain when we reach the final page.
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I suppose he left those questions for the sequel?
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