Book #34. Mars, Inc., by Ben Bova. Unabridged audio.
I was browsing the sci-fi selections on the Hoopla app, after having returned “Rocket Ship Galileo,” and found this one. It seemed a reasonable follow-up to that prior Heinlein novel, as it broadly covered similar material, a trip into space. I was curious what a more modern take (Mars, Inc. was published in 2013) on the topic would look like.
Similar to Heinlein, Bova tells the story of space travel without NASA or other federal involvement. In this case, it is a well-financed private business that is making the attempt, which is a trip to Mars. Richard Branson is name-checked in the novel, and serves a good model for the lead character in the novel, Art Thrasher. With a little Elon Musk of Tesla Motors thrown in, as well.
I was impressed with the “realism” of this novel. The story takes place over 5 years, because space travel is hard. I imagine that it would take a while to work out the details and build the equipment necessary to achieve this goal, to say nothing of the financial aspects. And as a business professor, I have to say that Bova gets the business aspects of the novel pretty well. The corporate intrigue and the proxy battles had enough realism in them to satisfy me that Bova had done his homework in this area.
Bova is a multiple Hugo Award winner, and so knows how to tell a great story. The characters are strong, the relations seem realistic, and the plot moves logically from step to step. All in all, this was a highly enjoyable read.
The only minor technicality I had was that there is already (in real-life) a company called Mars, Inc. They make candy bars. Lots and lots of candy bars.
Note: Bova has written a number of books about Mars. This book is not related to those other Mars books, that are part of The Grand Tour series.