Martian Manoeuvres
All manner of scientifical happenings on Mars


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A Princess of Mars
by Edgar Rice Burroughs (1912)


Sporadic science and fantasy mix freely in first of Burroughs' John Carter tales. Loosely defined process sees Carter end up on Mars as prisoner of the savage green men of Thark. A beautiful princess comes into the picture and rescue is fraught with seemingly endless danger. Set the stage for a flood of scientific romances to follow.





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Out of the Silent Planet
by C S Lewis (1938)


Allegorical story of the life of Christ. Cambridge linguist Dr Ransom is kidnapped and taken to Malacandra (Mars). After escaping he learns from the peaceful inhabitants that Earth is a fallen planet in need of salvation in order to end its silent ostracism. Best known for his fantasy novels, this is the strongest and most science fictional of Lewis' Cosmic Trilogy.





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The Martian Chronicles
by Ray Bradbury (1950)


Popular collection of linked stories depicting the near-future colonisation of Mars. Published in the UK as The Silver Locusts, the book has a haunting quality, perhaps flagging Bradbury's later forays into horror. Nevertheless, there is no denying the power of these stories and Bradbury's significant contributions to the sci-fi genre.





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Double Star
by Robert A Heinlein (1956)


Morally reprehensible actor impersonates a kidnapped political leader in a desperate bid to save a sensitive situation involving a "Martian Nest" adoption ceremony. The role overcomes him as he gradually lifts his ethical standards in order to stay in character. Many regard this as Heinlein's best adult novel of the 1950s, although age is catching up.





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Martian Time-Slip
by Philip K Dick (1964)


A handyman on the arid Martian planet gets tangled up with a Water Workers' Union boss and an "anomalous" boy. The boy's ability to communicate via time-slip with the hated "natives" triggers a politically-motivated wave of crime and violence. Dick's empathy for the little people shines through, making this one of the best of his early novels.





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Mars
by Ben Bova (1992)


Renowned sci-fi editor proves he can pen a good story with the best of them. A half-Navajo geologist strikes it lucky and joins the first manned expedition to Mars. On getting there he forgets his lines and the political fallout causes chaos. An extremely human story ensues, with Bova deftly confronting the reader with a host of political and social issues. A bit of adventure doesn't go astray either.





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Red Mars
by Kim Stanley Robinson (1992)


Humankind once dreamt of finding life on Mars, so a group of idealistic scientists sets out to create it using 'terraforming'. Nasty multinational corporations, political radicals and others on overpopulated Earth all have ideas about how to exploit the new Mars. Robinson's terraforming technology is complex, imaginative and believable.





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The Martian
by Andy Weir (2014)


Outstanding survival tale about an astronaut who is presumed dead and left to fend for himself in the hostile Martian environment. Armed only with his ingenuity and sardonic wit, he manages to tough it out long enough to start dreaming of the possibility of rescue becoming a reality. A well-written story that has benefited from the superb 2015 feature film directed by Ridley Scott.


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