Missions to Mars

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Packing for Mars

By Mary Roach

 

Mary Roach, who has previously written about the "life" of a cadaver (in Stiff) and how scientists study sexual intercourse (in Bonk), gets the scoop on how space explorers come up with the answers to questions like "What happens to your body when it's trapped in a spacesuit for months?" The preparations for the next generation of space travel reveal how far we've come since Neil Armstrong first set foot on the lunar surface.

 

Mary Roach's Book Recommendations (for Reading on Mars)

 


 

The Martian

By Andy Weir

 

Stranded on Mars after a wind storm kills his crew, astronaut Mark Watney must use all of his knowledge and wherewithal to survive an unforgiving planet and impossible odds.  In pursuit of oxygen, fuel, protection from radiation, and a sense of purpose, Andy Weir's genrebending new foray into the paranormal is balanced with a realist, slice-of-modern life approach to scouring Big Red, and exploring the perimeters of our galaxy.

 


 

Geographies of Mars

By K. Maria D. Lane

 

Mars has long fascinated us, and inspired a sense of awe in late nineteenth century public upon the release of Mars, a landmark 1895 work of controversial astronomy from author Percival Lowell. As Adam Kirsch wrote in his BNR review of Geographies, a fascinating look at Lowell and his contemporaries' impressions of Mars, "these fantasies, Lane argues, have much to tell us about the way turn-of-the-century Americans and Europeans thought about space, knowledge, and power."

 

Review by Adam Kirsch

 


 

Red Mars

By Kim Stanley Robinson

 

In this, the kickoff to one of the most celebrated of science-fiction trilogies, Robinson provides an intoxicating vision of how we might settle and transform our planetary neighbor. A cast of intrepid colonists are swept up in a truly epic-scale adventure, with a dash of utopian dreaming balanced by the author's integration of deeply researched science about everything from how to thicken a world's atmosphere to new drugs and treatments for aging. 

 


 

The Martian Tales Trilogy

By Edgar Rice Burroughs

 

One of the definitive works of science fiction, author Burroughs (famed creator of Tarzan and the Martian Tales protagonist John Carter) way back in 1913 rendered an iconic view of space travel and the potential creatures that ruled just outside of our own globe.  But "Burroughs's greatest stroke of genius," writes our own Michael Dirda, "albeit one based on contemporary speculation about Mars, lies in making Barsoom an old planet, a dying world, ravined with dried-up canals and dotted with the crumbling cities of earlier, forgotten cultures."  Burroughs' view is an aptly long view of the cosmos, in which the voyage into the antiquity of lost worlds carries as much wonder as space-age technology.

 

Review by Michael Dirda

July 23: Jessica Mitford died on this day in 1996.

Crime fiction legends Dennis Lehane and Michael Connelly discuss the new book that unites their beloved sleuths Patrick Kenzie and Harry Bosch.

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Books, CDs, DVDs to know about now
The Hundred-Year House

When a poetry scholar goes digging through the decrepit estate of his wife's family to uncover a bygone arts colony's strange mysteries, he awakens a tenacious monster: his mother-in-law. A wickedly funny take on aging aristocracies from author Rebecca Makkai (The Borrower).

Watching Them Be

What makes a film actor into a larger-than-life movie star? James Harvey's passionate, freewheeling essays explain why there are some faces (from Greta Garbo's to Samuel L. Jackson's) from which we cannot look away.

Landline

What if you called up the spouse on the verge of leaving you -- and instead found yourself magically talking to his younger self, the one you first fell for?  Rainbow Rowell, author of the YA smash Eleanor & Park, delivers a sly, enchanting take on 21st-century love.