Friday, March 12, 2010

Marsbound Book Review

Title: Marsbound
Author: Joe Haldeman
Publisher: Penguin Group
Pages: 288
ISBN: 9780441017393

The Dula Family are to be one of the first families in space, and more importantly, one of the first families to travel to Mars. They're not alone on this journey however, there are other families on the shuttle that is to take them to Mars, where on the surface of the red planet humans have built a forward, scientific station.

At first, Carmen Dula is nervous and unsure of her future in space, but the idea slowly grows on her, and she quickly finds herself adapting to her new life in space. Marsbound is her story. From the space elevator ride, to the nine month trip to Mars, Carmen slowly matures into a women -- and whether she likes it or not -- something much, much more. Along the way, she finds love, enemies, and oh, and sentient life in the form of a mishapened patatoe with more legs and eyes than what's natural for an earth-born spud.

The paperback edition of this book clocks in at around 290 pages, but once finished, feels like a four hundred page novel has been read. Haldeman does a beautiful job with pacing, breaking the story up into proper parts, and only sharing the important details in description, sacrificing scientific babble and fluff for more story driven material. All the while building the story into a solid woven piece that stands strong against some of the loose mortar that could have been exposed and chipped away, when it comes to the exterior of the piece.

But luckily enough, Marsbound doesn't have that problem. Although the first sixty pages or so are slow, Haldeman makes up for it soon after, forcing the reader further into the story. With well thought out characters, an interesting take on aliens, and a fresh new take on science, Haldeman takes old ideas and breathes new life into them, leaving enough detail out to make the reader want to know more.

Although abrupt, the ending is solid in that it tacks a nice end onto the story, while still leaving many, many loose strings hanging in the air, for Haldeman to come back and tie together. And thankfully enough, he is. Marsbound is the the first book in a projected trilogy, with the second: Starbound, already out in hardback.

Originally written as a stand alone, I now understand why Haldeman has stretched it further. With attractive enough characters for the average reader to want to come back to, and interesting loose ends still left untied, I highly recommend this book to any and all who have a love for science fiction. That's why I'm giving Marsbound by Joe Haldeman 8.5 TARDIS's out of 10.

I had high hopes for this novel -- I mean after all, it's written by the same author of The Forever War -- and to be honest, I wasn't disapointed in the slightest. It's good clean fun, and I'm looking very forward to getting my grubby hands on a copy of Starbound.


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