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The Sands of Mars

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Space writers holiday. When a celebrated science fiction writer takes to space on his first trip to Mars, he's sure to be in for some heckling from the spaceship crew. But Martin Gibson, man about space, takes it all in his stride. That is, until he lands on the red planet. Once there the intrepid author causes one problem after another as he stumbles upon Mars's most care Space writers holiday. When a celebrated science fiction writer takes to space on his first trip to Mars, he's sure to be in for some heckling from the spaceship crew. But Martin Gibson, man about space, takes it all in his stride. That is, until he lands on the red planet. Once there the intrepid author causes one problem after another as he stumbles upon Mars's most carefully hidden secrets and threatens the future of an entire planet!


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Space writers holiday. When a celebrated science fiction writer takes to space on his first trip to Mars, he's sure to be in for some heckling from the spaceship crew. But Martin Gibson, man about space, takes it all in his stride. That is, until he lands on the red planet. Once there the intrepid author causes one problem after another as he stumbles upon Mars's most care Space writers holiday. When a celebrated science fiction writer takes to space on his first trip to Mars, he's sure to be in for some heckling from the spaceship crew. But Martin Gibson, man about space, takes it all in his stride. That is, until he lands on the red planet. Once there the intrepid author causes one problem after another as he stumbles upon Mars's most carefully hidden secrets and threatens the future of an entire planet!

30 review for The Sands of Mars

  1. 4 out of 5

    Michael Jandrok

    We will get the obvious stuff out of the way first. “The Sands of Mars” was Arthur C. Clarke’s first foray into the science-fiction novel format after publishing a series of successful short stories. First published in 1951, it is a somewhat unusual offering within the greater Clarke canon, for reasons which we shall discuss in this review later. Now we can argue all day as to the dates of what constitutes the true “Golden Age of Science-Fiction,” but in my mind this book and quite a few of the We will get the obvious stuff out of the way first. “The Sands of Mars” was Arthur C. Clarke’s first foray into the science-fiction novel format after publishing a series of successful short stories. First published in 1951, it is a somewhat unusual offering within the greater Clarke canon, for reasons which we shall discuss in this review later. Now we can argue all day as to the dates of what constitutes the true “Golden Age of Science-Fiction,” but in my mind this book and quite a few of the others published in the early 1950s still fall within that nomenclature. Whatever the case, “The Sands of Mars” is an excellent novel of space-age adventure, part travelogue, part soap opera, and part love letter to the act of discovery and exploration as essential qualities of what makes us human. The plot is as straightforward as you will ever get. Science-Fiction author Martin Gibson (a very obvious stand-in for Clarke himself) is traveling to the colonies of Mars on board the newest commercial space cruiser Aries. As it is the Arie’s shakedown cruise, Gibson is the only passenger, accompanied only by the small crew of the gigantic spacecraft. There are a few comic moments when Gibson has issues adjusting to the reality of weightless travel, but he quickly figures things out and he and the crew begin to bond over the course of their months long voyage. There are a few on board adventures to be had, including the interception of a vital experimental medicine necessary to combat what the colonists are calling “Martian fever.” Gibson arrives on Mars having made friends with one of the junior members of the crew, Jimmy Spencer, who has an unusual personal tie to Gibson. Gibson soon settles into his role of intrepid travel explorer and reporter, sending missives back to Earth on a regular basis. The Mars colony itself is small, and contained within clear domes that have been terraformed to sustain human life. Gibson soon begins to get a feel for the colony, and manages to get himself into a scrape or two along the way. He finds a mysterious outpost during one of his travels in the Mars “outback.” He then seizes an opportunity to travel to one of the outlying cities on Mars, but the plane that he is flying on runs into a massive dust storm and crash lands. It is here where the story begins to take a turn towards adventure and mystery, as Gibson and his mates from the downed plane soon discover a new species of plant life on Mars, as well as a small colony of “Martians,” a reasonably intelligent animal species that sort of resembles kangaroos. Gibson ends up taking a sample of each new life form back to Port Lowell, the main city on Mars. He names his new pet “Squeak” in honor of the sound that it most often vocalizes. Along the way, Gibson finds himself drawn to the Martian colony, and he begins to think in long-term plans. But there are many unanswered questions. What is the nature of the odd outpost that he discovered earlier, and how does it tie into the new plant that he discovered? Are “Squeak” and his marsupial companions the only remaining examples of animal life left on Mars? What is the nature of “Project Dawn,” a much-whispered about but never revealed plot thought to be covertly run by the Mars Administration? What exactly is the relationship between Gibson and Jimmy? What secrets does Warren Hadfield, the gruff Chief Executive of Mars Administration hide? Will Gibson’s immersion into Martian culture cause him to “switch allegiances” and commit himself fully to the colonist’s causes? Don’t worry, all of these questions and more will be deftly answered by the end of the novel, but you will get no more spoilers from me. I’ll state for the record right here that “The Sands of Mars” contains some of Clarke’s most personable writing. Often criticized for his lack of characterization, Clarke paints some pretty deep people in this book. There are times when it almost feels like a soap opera in space as he traces all of the relationships down to their logical ends. The Gibson character mirrors Clarke’s own life to some degree, even down to the failed relationship with a woman in college that may explain the nature of his relationship to Jimmy. Clarke himself had a short marriage to a woman, and remained a bachelor for the rest of his life thereafter. Fortunately there is little in the way of sexuality in “The Sands of Mars,” so we can leave all of the “other” speculations behind and focus on the adventure and fun to be had as the book comes to its satisfying climax. What Clarke IS most often known for is his keen grasp on hard science-fiction ideas and his uncanny ability to forecast future technologies and societal trends. He’s a bit off base here, but not too far if you consider what we actually knew about Mars back in 1951. This is a far cry from H. G. Wells or Edgar Rice Burroughs. You will find no vicious Martian land rovers spouting deadly fire, nor will you discover scantily clad alien princesses idling lazily as heroes draw swords and heave their massive thews. No, what you get in “The Sands of Mars” is a reasonable portrait of interplanetary travel as it might have existed in the future, along with a bevy of other interesting technical details that hit or miss the mark in various ways. Clarke was certainly not short on ideas. And you can even see the beginnings of what would eventually turn Clarke from a “good” science-fiction writer into one of the all-time greats, a concept that I like to call “The Big Idea.” A lot of Arthur C. Clarke’s later works would enter into Big Idea territory. The transformation of the entire human race in “Childhood’s End.” The senses-shattering journey into the farthest reaches of the galaxy with a side shot of the transformation of the entire human race in “2001: A Space Odyssey.” The monumental first contact with an alien artifact in “Rendezvous With Rama.” These are the books that Clarke is best known for, and while “The Sands of Mars” harbors no such aspirations, you can still see the seed of Clarke’s grand ambition on display here. Personally, I loved this book. I’m not going to give it five stars as it never ramps itself up to anything of a major status. But I liked the cast of characters. I liked Clarke’s happy-go-lucky sort of British pluck that he infuses the entire story with. I didn’t mind that the whole thing read like a 1950s science-fiction travelogue crossed with a soap opera of epic proportions. At the end of the day the book just made me feel GOOD. “The Sands of Mars” is a prime reason why I enjoy Golden Age science-fiction so much. The idea that the universe was ours to explore, the grand scale, the epic notion that human beings could work together to achieve massive and far-reaching goals, the sheer OPTIMISM of the whole thing. Arthur C. Clarke and a number of other authors envisioned a world where anything was possible, and that sort of enthusiasm wasn’t lost on an entire generation of people who would eventually come together and place the footprints of human beings upon the moon. In short, “The Sands of Mars” is a tidy, fun read that never gets too far off of its path and will leave you feeling satisfied and happy after you have turned the last page. It’s a short step up from some of the “juvenile” fiction that Robert Heinlein was writing around the same time, and you could easily fit this book into the “YA” category today. Highly recommended for any Arthur C. Clarke fan and/or any fan of Golden Age science-fiction.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Sharon Barrow Wilfong

    I am attracted to Science Fiction from the first half of the twentieth century. I like the cover art from the paperbacks; I like the retro feel from the stories too. If you like books based primarily on world building, then you will enjoy this book. If you depend more on a story-line with an arc and characters that are well-developed, this story may disappoint. Martin Gibson is a writer and he has been selected to fly on a spaceship to Mars and send back news to Earth. Earth wants to know if the e I am attracted to Science Fiction from the first half of the twentieth century. I like the cover art from the paperbacks; I like the retro feel from the stories too. If you like books based primarily on world building, then you will enjoy this book. If you depend more on a story-line with an arc and characters that are well-developed, this story may disappoint. Martin Gibson is a writer and he has been selected to fly on a spaceship to Mars and send back news to Earth. Earth wants to know if the efforts and financial expense to colonize the planet is worth continuing. Mars hopes that his reports will encourage their home planet to continue their support. The first half of the book takes place on the ship where Gibson learns his way around and gets to know the astronauts. Each astronaut has a strong distinctive character and I am sorry that they did not play a larger role in the story. As soon as the ship lands on Mars, they all but disappear and the story shifts to Gibson's observations of the land he sees and the work the colonists have done to make it inhabitable for humans. Maybe this would have been interesting if it was non fiction, but just reading one person's idea of what living on another planet would be like is not my cup of tea, but other readers might like it. For me it felt like reading a text book on ecology. There are moments of tension, but they are brief. Mostly it's comparable to a mechanical Disney ride where one sits and observes the scenery while your cart takes you around the different "lands". If you're a Six Flags type of person, you might go for something with a little more suspense.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Arnis

    https://poseidons99.wordpress.com/201... https://poseidons99.wordpress.com/201...

  4. 4 out of 5

    Anders Blixt

    British-Lankese author Arthur C Clarke was one of the titans of science fiction when I was young in the 1970s, together with Americans Isaac Asimov and Robert Heinlein. As I see it, Clarke was at his best from the late 1940s to the end of the 1960s, a period during which he for instance wrote the famous short-stories “The Sentinel” and “The Nine Billion Names of God”. Around 1950, he wrote The Sands of Mars, a sand-in-the-spacesuit novel about one man’s exploration of Mars and of himself, a stor British-Lankese author Arthur C Clarke was one of the titans of science fiction when I was young in the 1970s, together with Americans Isaac Asimov and Robert Heinlein. As I see it, Clarke was at his best from the late 1940s to the end of the 1960s, a period during which he for instance wrote the famous short-stories “The Sentinel” and “The Nine Billion Names of God”. Around 1950, he wrote The Sands of Mars, a sand-in-the-spacesuit novel about one man’s exploration of Mars and of himself, a story of growth and transformation, of becoming an adult and responsible individual. Clarke possessed a talent I have come to like more and more with advancing age, the ability to write an interesting yarn without introducing violent conflicts or bad-guy characters. The Sands of Mars is a prime example: it deals with saving lives (futuristic medicine), making deserts bloom (well, sort of), and the constructive handling an old mess (no spoiler here). The main character, a science fiction author named Martin Gibson, grows in a credible manner from being immature and egocentric to assuming great responsibility. I found the novel in a bargain bookshop in my hometown Gothenburg in the late 1970s and it has remained in my bookshelf ever since. I have read it so many times that I can summarize it “on the run”. At the time of the purchase, the novel was about 25 years old and its description of Mars had been rendered obsolete by the detailed photo-mapping of the Red Planet by Mariner 9 in 1972. But that did not matter much, because I liked it from the start. Clarke sends the reader to a worn-out Mars covered by rolling deserts without exciting topology. Its carbon-dioxide atmosphere is reasonably thick and its dunes are home only to hardy plants — not a Martian in sight. One of the main themes is the interaction between the colonists and the planet, how people’s mindsets get “martianized” while they are busy making the planet more human-friendly. Another interesting matter that Clarke deals a lot with is the significance of administration and efficient use of scarce resources. Establishing a permanent human presence on Mars is an expensive and time-consuming project and, in order to succeed, it must be managed in a professional and unheroic manner. Therefore production statistics and balance sheets get as important as back-breaking labor. Scientific progress — i.e. in physics, chemistry, and xenobiology — is the underlying key to success and Clarke uses this trope to create suspense: every now and then protagonist Martin Gibson asks himself “What the heck is really going on here?” Does the novel have any weaknesses? The gender roles are antiquated and the story fails the Bechdel test. But that’s what Europe in 1950 looked like. And it is hard to criticize Clarke here, because he does show how working women participate in the colonization of Mars even though they get almost no speaking parts in Martin Gibson’s adventures. From literary standpoint, the prose suffers from occasional Clarke-isms (quasi-philosophical expressions like “the stream of time”, not-so-funny humor, etc) that disrupt its otherwise smooth flow. In the 1950s, the readers must have seen The Sands of Mars as a plausible description of what interplanetary colonization could be like. Today, six decades later, the story’s technology is partially outdated (e.g. Martin Gibson uses a typewriter and carbon-copies; radios have tubes instead of transistors) and partially futuristic (e.g. the well-described nuclear-powered passenger ship by which Gibson travels to Mars). But despite its age, the novel remains a piece of solid craftsmanship because it deals with an issue that always is with us: how to build a better world for our children, be it on Mars or on Earth.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Leo

    Golden Age Science Fiction is one of my favorite genres but I have not read much Arthur C. Clarke, despite his reputation and being a fan of the film 2001. I decided to change that. I have a old Clarke Omnibus hardback put out by the Science Fiction Book Club titled Prelude To Mars. It includes two complete novels and sixteen short stories. The first novel is Prelude To Space. It’s about the first manned flight to the moon. Having lived through Apollo I doubted I would get any pleasure from a ha Golden Age Science Fiction is one of my favorite genres but I have not read much Arthur C. Clarke, despite his reputation and being a fan of the film 2001. I decided to change that. I have a old Clarke Omnibus hardback put out by the Science Fiction Book Club titled Prelude To Mars. It includes two complete novels and sixteen short stories. The first novel is Prelude To Space. It’s about the first manned flight to the moon. Having lived through Apollo I doubted I would get any pleasure from a hard SF imagining of what such a mission might involve written 15 years prior to the actual event. The other novel included is The Sands of Mars. It’s about a visit to a human colony on Mars. Thinking “this might be interesting” I decided to read it. My assumption was only partially accurate. It was fairly interesting although it felt like a young adult book, not one of my favorite genres. There were some weird problems with the prose an editor should have noticed, but what I couldn’t get past was the presence of plants and animals on Mars, how the imagined Mars from the early ‘50s was so incorrect. Also I found the ending preposterous. If you can ignore those things it’s not a bad little adventure book. I do plan on reading the short stories included, but probably not until next year.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Anna Lehmicke

    This is the first Arthur C. Clarke novel I've read. I can't compare it to his own later novels, but it is interesting to note the differences between Sci-Fi of the 50s to the genre today. Fax machines on an interstellar spaceship? Hillariously quaint! Turning a moon into a sun? Preposterously convenient! While the character-building was well done, and the few passages that were descriptive of the Mars Clarke was guiding us through were eloquent and picturesque, the book as a whole was fairly sim This is the first Arthur C. Clarke novel I've read. I can't compare it to his own later novels, but it is interesting to note the differences between Sci-Fi of the 50s to the genre today. Fax machines on an interstellar spaceship? Hillariously quaint! Turning a moon into a sun? Preposterously convenient! While the character-building was well done, and the few passages that were descriptive of the Mars Clarke was guiding us through were eloquent and picturesque, the book as a whole was fairly simple and quickly read. There were a couple of surprises that caught the characters off-guard without the reader catching on from the narration, but otherwise the ending was relatively predictable. If it were written today, I would have rated it lower, but since it was a Sci-Fi novel written in a time before we had even landed on OUR moon, I imagine it was pretty advanced for its time.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Derek

    I'm having trouble putting this into context. When originally published, what sort of book would sit next to it? Something pulpy and ridiculous? Was this revolutionary in its cold fidelity to hard physics and technological understanding of the time? What would I compare this to? Given Clarke's stringent adherence and reputation, it's tempting to pick at the things he doesn't get right--cigarettes on spaceships, typewriters, administrator-secretaries on Mars, meteorologists on space stations, news I'm having trouble putting this into context. When originally published, what sort of book would sit next to it? Something pulpy and ridiculous? Was this revolutionary in its cold fidelity to hard physics and technological understanding of the time? What would I compare this to? Given Clarke's stringent adherence and reputation, it's tempting to pick at the things he doesn't get right--cigarettes on spaceships, typewriters, administrator-secretaries on Mars, meteorologists on space stations, newspapers in set type--but I later wondered how many of these were deliberate, that suggesting handheld reading/writing/chatting devices with the capacity of several libraries would be a stretch too far for his audience.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Mariangel

    Arthur Clarke explains in a realistic way, as Jules Verne did in his novels, a space trip to Mars and life in a Martian colony built inside a bubble. Some things have become obsolete, like the typewriter and carbon paper Gibson uses to write his articles, or the geological features of Mars, which were not known at the time, but overall the novel holds up very well.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Paul Weiss

    A classic that stands the test of time! The Sands of Mars is a joy - a lightweight, easy-reading, far-sighted hard sci-fi novel that addresses the broad topics of interplanetary travel and colonization, development and terraforming of the hostile extra-terrestrial Martian environment. One could quibble, I suppose, that the science is slightly dated and there were certainly a couple of predictions that have since been proven incorrect but, for my money, the story is made all the more exciting and A classic that stands the test of time! The Sands of Mars is a joy - a lightweight, easy-reading, far-sighted hard sci-fi novel that addresses the broad topics of interplanetary travel and colonization, development and terraforming of the hostile extra-terrestrial Martian environment. One could quibble, I suppose, that the science is slightly dated and there were certainly a couple of predictions that have since been proven incorrect but, for my money, the story is made all the more exciting and amazing for the degree to which it is now, fifty years later, approaching reality and the possibility of achievement! Martin Gibson, a celebrated science fiction writer, has been invited to be the first and only passenger on the maiden voyage of Ares, the first interplanetary vessel that will be devoted to passenger travel. A simple thesis indeed for a marvelous novel - Gibson's job is to report back to earth on the trip and his perceptions of the progress that the first colonists have made in their establishment of a flourishing base on Mars. Unlike Asimov's The Gods Themselves which addresses the philosophical and psychological impact of living in an alien environment on Earth's moon, The Sands of Mars restricts itself almost exclusively to addressing the hard core physical and scientific issues. Not to suggest that makes it less interesting or a weaker novel - that's just the side of the sci-fi coin that turned up when Clarke flipped it, I suppose! There certainly wasn't any shortage of topics - oxygen, air pressure, weather, heat, buildings, local travel (both on the planet and to Mars' moons, Phobos and Deimos), interplanetary travel back and forth to Mars, emergency preparedness, government, effective utilization of limited manpower, biology and zoology (or at least Clarke's rather exciting vision of what is possible), communication and more! I also appreciated the fact that, while the science was straightforward and not particularly complex, neither was it dumbed down or patronizing. For example, when Ares first left Earth's orbits to begin the long trip to Mars, it was described as follows: " ... she would pull away out of the orbit in which she was circling and had hitherto spent all her existence, to swing into the long hyperbola that led to Mars." I haven't been a big fan of Arthur C Clarke's other more open-ended esoteric novels such as Against the Fall of Night but I certainly enjoyed this one! Paul Weiss

  10. 5 out of 5

    Tomislav

    second read - 4 April 2012 *** - I last read this 39 years ago. It's hard to believe this 1951 novel was approximately 20 years old then, and approximately 60 years old now. I re-read it now because it was the yahoogroups Hard-SF book of the month for March 2012, and in order to count it in the paperbackswap 2Q2012 SF Challenge as a first novel of a British writer. This could be considered a precursor, set in the same universe, as Clarke's Space Odyssey books. I'm afraid I remembered next to noth second read - 4 April 2012 *** - I last read this 39 years ago. It's hard to believe this 1951 novel was approximately 20 years old then, and approximately 60 years old now. I re-read it now because it was the yahoogroups Hard-SF book of the month for March 2012, and in order to count it in the paperbackswap 2Q2012 SF Challenge as a first novel of a British writer. This could be considered a precursor, set in the same universe, as Clarke's Space Odyssey books. I'm afraid I remembered next to nothing about the novel from my first read. I enjoyed it more than I was expecting, but probably mostly those were feelings of nostalgia for a past era of science fiction. At this point, even though Clarke aimed for a scientifically accurate description of Mars, distancing himself from the misconceptions of Edgar Rice Burroughs' Barsoom, his descriptions seem quaintly optimistic with regards to life on Mars and the Moon. Some aspects of this novel are probably auto-biographical. The one well-developed main character - a science fiction writer - had a single traumatic female relationship in his past. Two years later Clarke himself had a brief and failed marriage. Given what is generally suspected about Arthur C. Clarke's private life, there seems to be a lot left unsaid in this writing. I also noticed that the colonists of Mars included few or no women whose purpose was other than to be the wives and families of the men. This is so unlike the contemporary science fiction vision of Mars colonization, more like a large military base. It could be Clarke's own military background, or possibly an indication of an over-idealized and unrealistic understanding of women. I thought the book was well written for its time, but expect it to be of limited appeal now in the 21st century. first read - December 1973- *** I bought this book in December of my freshman year in college, and read it shortly thereafter.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Larry

    Martin Gibson is a science fiction writer and he decides to spend his money on a trip to the red planet which is now becoming colonised. Gibson seems lacking in knowledge of space travel and how things work up there and so Jimmy, a young apprentice, is assigned as Gibson's teacher as it were. The two become friends and soon Gibson is accepted as part of the group (at first he is looked down upon, as just another writer of space adventures). He is invited along on a mission across the planet in a Martin Gibson is a science fiction writer and he decides to spend his money on a trip to the red planet which is now becoming colonised. Gibson seems lacking in knowledge of space travel and how things work up there and so Jimmy, a young apprentice, is assigned as Gibson's teacher as it were. The two become friends and soon Gibson is accepted as part of the group (at first he is looked down upon, as just another writer of space adventures). He is invited along on a mission across the planet in a jet and after an accident he discovers something going on and decides to investigate. It seems there are plans afoot that could affect the future of both Earth and Mars. Sands is a great little story but you can really tell its an early Clarke! Apart from Mars's strange (to us) geology, sorry aerology, it was notable for me in using the old form of the word connection, with an x! I think the last time I saw the word 'connexion' was in a Dickens novel! Still, all good stuff with drama (a sandstorm), adventure (young Jimmy being amazed by Mars's aerology) and humour, not to mention a bit of relationship controversy!

  12. 4 out of 5

    Charles

    Another good one by Clarke. This was his first full length novel.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Fran Garcia

    As it is written in the book: (Science fiction) may sometimes have a social value when its written, but to the next generation it must always seem quaint and archaic. Not bad at all for a 1951 book.

  14. 4 out of 5

    S. Naomi Scott

    Before I get into the meat of my review let me get one thing out of the way right now. This book is almost seventy years old, written before we had any real understanding of what Mars was like. We hadn't even managed to get anything into orbit when this book first came out, so there's bound to be a bit of a separation between the science and technology we know now and what this book asserts. Got that? Good. The story follows the adventures of sci-fi writer Martin Gibson as he becomes the first to Before I get into the meat of my review let me get one thing out of the way right now. This book is almost seventy years old, written before we had any real understanding of what Mars was like. We hadn't even managed to get anything into orbit when this book first came out, so there's bound to be a bit of a separation between the science and technology we know now and what this book asserts. Got that? Good. The story follows the adventures of sci-fi writer Martin Gibson as he becomes the first tourist to visit Mars. The book is essentially in two halves; the first half tells us about the journey itself aboard the liner Ares, while the second half deals with Gibson's time on Mars and what he finds there. At its core, this is a story of exploration, but as with so much of Clarke's work there are multiple layers to the narrative, and also in common with what I've read of Clarke's work to date this is one hell of a readable story. With the first half being set on the liner Ares we get to learn a lot about the operation of the ship and her crew. Even with a limited knowledge of spaceflight and interplanetary travel Clarke is able to present a believable and enlightening narrative, which can be a little dry at times but rarely fails to entertain. We're amused by Gibson's first experience of low gravity and freefall, as well as his initial bout of space sickness; we're presented with an awe-inspiring description of the galaxy free of the haze of an atmosphere; we get to share Gibson's first (and only) spacewalk, albeit in a suit that never was. This is Clarke in his element, taking the technical aspects of what was known about space travel at the time and turning them into a fun, enticing story that makes it sound oh so easy. The second half brings us to Mars, via a brief stop-off at Deimos, and it isn't long before the tone of the story changes. Instead of being an exploration of space travel we're now presented with a frontier tale coupled with a subtle, almost invisible, detective story. The colonists of Mars are up to something, keeping secrets, but Gibson doesn't seem all that driven to find out what. Instead, he seems more interested in discovering Mars for himself, trying to get to grips with the colonist spirit. Here Mars is shown to be an inhospitable wasteland with a poisonous CO2 rich atmosphere. The colonists, for the most part, live under domes in the capital city of Port Lowell. There's a brief exploration of the plant life native to the red planet but mainly the second half focuses on the interaction between the various characters and how they deal with the dangers around them. As I mentioned at the top of this review, there's a lot that Clarke gets wrong in here, science and tech wise, but that's okay because this is great book despite that. Yes, it is representative of its time, particularly where gender roles seem to be concerned - the very few female characters mentioned are there as props for the male characters to interact with, while all the important jobs are undertaken by men - but it still has a lot to say about human ingenuity. This is typically optimistic fare from Clarke, and one of those books I'd say anyone genuinely interested in the history of sci-fi should add to their reading list. There's a reason Clarke is considered one of the Grand Masters of science fiction, and this, his first full length novel, goes a long way to show us what that reason is.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Matthew Barnes

    An enjoyable read, with some nice twists and turns.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Dev Taylor

    Pretttttttty "pulpy" stuff. For me, it's not one of his better works. Still, it was an alright-enough-palate-cleanser for me to start the fall. Pretttttttty "pulpy" stuff. For me, it's not one of his better works. Still, it was an alright-enough-palate-cleanser for me to start the fall.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Patrick DiJusto

    This book is Arthur c Clarke's first novel, published in 1951, and in some ways, probably his most human. It's written by a child of the British empire, who recognizes that the British empire was wrong, (without quite accepting how wrong it was,) and who doesn't want to make the same mistake when humanity colonizes the solar system. It's also written by a closeted gay man who literally had to hide his love away. The story concerns a middle-aged science fiction writer, no doubt Clarke as he though This book is Arthur c Clarke's first novel, published in 1951, and in some ways, probably his most human. It's written by a child of the British empire, who recognizes that the British empire was wrong, (without quite accepting how wrong it was,) and who doesn't want to make the same mistake when humanity colonizes the solar system. It's also written by a closeted gay man who literally had to hide his love away. The story concerns a middle-aged science fiction writer, no doubt Clarke as he thought he would be in later years. The man has been chosen to be the first non-colonist passenger on a flight to the small human outpost on the planet Mars. The man also has a deep dark secret about his romantic past, ahem! The first section of the book deals with the three-month flight to Mars. Because this is 1951, Clarke needs to explain everything about astronautics to an audience completely unfamiliar with the concepts. That he manages to do this without resorting to information dumps, is just one sign of Clarke's amazing talent. On board the ship, the writer bonds with the crew, and comes across evidence that his youthful romance had repercussions he could not have dreamed of. Once on Mars, the writer finds himself enjoying, and joining, the pioneer society. He develops meaningful relationships with the people trying to make Mars work, and learns a thing or two about himself. Even his secret youthful romance develops some sort of conclusion. In true British empire fashion, the writer realizes that his best chance of happiness will come from the meaningful purpose of colonizing a new world. But he quickly adds, not for the benefit of himself, or England, or Earth, but for the other intelligent creatures we may meet on our journey. People criticize the later Clarke novels as being too interested in things and ideas, while leaving the people behind. This book shows that Clarke could indeed write people, and do it very well.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Dave

    Arthur C. Clarke’s second novel, “The Sands of Mars”, published in 1951, differs greatly from his first novel. Whereas “Prelude to Space” was focused on the technical details of space travel, Clarke puts much more effort into character development in “The Sand of Mars”. That is not to say that Clarke ignores the technical as much as he did the character development in his first novel. He has some interesting discussions on creating livable conditions on Mars for man, and he floats an idea which Arthur C. Clarke’s second novel, “The Sands of Mars”, published in 1951, differs greatly from his first novel. Whereas “Prelude to Space” was focused on the technical details of space travel, Clarke puts much more effort into character development in “The Sand of Mars”. That is not to say that Clarke ignores the technical as much as he did the character development in his first novel. He has some interesting discussions on creating livable conditions on Mars for man, and he floats an idea which he would return to in “2010: The Year We Make Contact”. The story centers on Martin Gibson, a science fiction writer who has been invited to take a trip to Mars so that he can write about it. He is to ride aboard the Ares, which is a ship configured to start taking passengers to Mars. A fair amount of the story takes place on the Ares, as Gibson becomes acclimated to space and Clarke adds several incidents to the trip to keep the reader’s interest while developing the characters. Clarke then plants the seeds for the big secret which Mars is keeping from Earth as Gibson arrives and is shown around the largest settlement. The reader becomes acquainted with Mars through the eyes of Gibson and the events which occur around him. Using these events Clarke builds the reader’s expectations for the secret, and also throws a few curves into the story itself, some of which aren’t all that believable. In the end, the secret is revealed and along the way the reader has met some interesting characters, but all in all it is not one of Clarke’s better works. There are just too many coincidences both in terms of character surprises as well as storyline ones to make it very believable.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Vernon

    This has been a difficult novel to rate, partly due to it being Clarke's "first full-length novel," but also that I've found it difficult to keep thoughts of the author's later masterpieces (i.e., The City and the Stars; Childhood's End—certainly two of the greatest works yet produced in the entire realm of Science Fiction) from impinging onto memory as a no doubt unfair comparison.The Sands of Mars is an example of an author not only stretching his imagination into a novel-length statement for This has been a difficult novel to rate, partly due to it being Clarke's "first full-length novel," but also that I've found it difficult to keep thoughts of the author's later masterpieces (i.e., The City and the Stars; Childhood's End—certainly two of the greatest works yet produced in the entire realm of Science Fiction) from impinging onto memory as a no doubt unfair comparison.The Sands of Mars is an example of an author not only stretching his imagination into a novel-length statement for the first time, but also shows his (life-long) fascination with what initial space exploration and colonization might well be like in actuality. The staggering use of imagination present in, for example, The City and the Stars is naturally enough not yet full-blown present, but the underpinings of future expressive growth most definitely are!The novel is a worthy read, and could just as well have been given three stars (something which, judging by the cumulative rating of the novel, many have done—and even higher than three stars); it's just that, for me, I can't get the searing genius of the two above-mentioned works out of mind (and there are others—those simply happen to be my personal favorites—Rendezvous with Rama [NOT THE SEQUELS!] also is resident in the "upper echelon hierarchy"). So, fair or not, in comparison to certain of the later works, The Sands of Mars suffers. More fairly, it's two-and-a-half stars....

  20. 4 out of 5

    Jason Vanhee

    Perfectly serviceable terribly quaint novel about the settlement of Mars in I guess the 1990s? It was Clarke's first novel, written in about 1948 and published in 1951, and Mars has a (thin but far too thick) atmosphere, weird plants, (spoiler) animals, and no mountains at all--we hadn't figured out yet the biggest mountain in the Solar System is there. There's a lot of realism to it though, in that it's not Starry Eyed Space Settlers, but bureaucratic intrusions and officious gentlemen and peop Perfectly serviceable terribly quaint novel about the settlement of Mars in I guess the 1990s? It was Clarke's first novel, written in about 1948 and published in 1951, and Mars has a (thin but far too thick) atmosphere, weird plants, (spoiler) animals, and no mountains at all--we hadn't figured out yet the biggest mountain in the Solar System is there. There's a lot of realism to it though, in that it's not Starry Eyed Space Settlers, but bureaucratic intrusions and officious gentlemen and people finding others obnoxious and nosy and anyway I liked all that part but not really the way it was written, which involves a lot of "Martin didn't realize how important that would turn out to be" which is a style that I don't care for. Not bad, not good, just a book, but one I've owned for like 4 years now without reading so I'm glad I got that out of the way.

  21. 4 out of 5

    K.A. Ashcomb

    This book is wish-fulfillment science fiction about traveling to space and to another planet. And not just anybody's wish, I think the writer's himself. It was the only thing I could think when I read the book. "This is what he dreams when he shut his eyes." To experience space travel and colonize another planet, Mars, as it will be the first planet humans can actually go to and most probably live on. Arthur C. Clarke's dream and love for space are vivid in the detailed description of spacefligh This book is wish-fulfillment science fiction about traveling to space and to another planet. And not just anybody's wish, I think the writer's himself. It was the only thing I could think when I read the book. "This is what he dreams when he shut his eyes." To experience space travel and colonize another planet, Mars, as it will be the first planet humans can actually go to and most probably live on. Arthur C. Clarke's dream and love for space are vivid in the detailed description of spaceflight, the grew, and the feelings of the main character, a science fiction writer Gibson. I'm not sure if you can read this book as a story, (of course, you can,) but something is lost if you expect the normal story arch or heroic quest to space. This is more like an exploration of what it would take to get to Mars and what obstacles and wonders you would experience on the way, and what would you see when standing on the sands of Mars. This book is inspirational and heartwarming, but I understand the complaints that it is not interesting, that it feels like a textbook. I don't mind that. I love when the writer shows his passion for the details. This is something you can expect from Arthur C. Clarke's books, there are always scientific facts backing up his claims, and that, in my opinion, is good sci-fi. But what I mind is that I couldn't get past the feeling that this book was written to the writer himself. That I was just a looker, trying to search meaning why this book should matter to me? After reading the book, I have to conclude the experience was this weird dissonance between inspiration and meaningless.  The Sands of Mars is a scientific poem for space travel. A dream, you can either jump into or watch as it floats by, and feel nothing. It is your choice to join into the emotion behind the words.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Alexis

    We're really punching the way-back machine this week, all the way back to 1951 and a young, shiny Arthur C. Clarke publishing his very first full-length novel. This was kind of different. Almost everything I've read from Clarke is very concept and idea focused. But this is actually pretty character heavy. It was also weirdly meta, which led some some of the best parts about this book. The main character is a sci-fi writer heading out into space for the first time, an experience that both exceeds a We're really punching the way-back machine this week, all the way back to 1951 and a young, shiny Arthur C. Clarke publishing his very first full-length novel. This was kind of different. Almost everything I've read from Clarke is very concept and idea focused. But this is actually pretty character heavy. It was also weirdly meta, which led some some of the best parts about this book. The main character is a sci-fi writer heading out into space for the first time, an experience that both exceeds and, in some ways, really deflates the expectations he has of this thing he's spent his whole life writing about. He also has conversations debating the future of science fiction and whether old sci-fi books will still be relevant once science catches up to imagination--especially interesting, after reading this book 70 years later. As Clarke points out in the forward, this was written reflective of what people thought they knew about Mars at the time...which in a lot of ways we now know was wildly off-base. So this really does feel like Clarke poking fun at himself, in places, and it's really engaging.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Mohammad Noroozi

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. This book as originally written in 1951 and, spoiler alert, it doesn't pass the Bechdel test. Also, not to give too much away, but terraforming a planet after already having discovered that a local species exists who is finely adapted for the way it currently is would today be the role of the Bond villains, not the heroes. That said, like Arthur C Clarke's other famous novels, this book is rich with imagination. I really felt like I was on Mars from the care the author took to describe the plane This book as originally written in 1951 and, spoiler alert, it doesn't pass the Bechdel test. Also, not to give too much away, but terraforming a planet after already having discovered that a local species exists who is finely adapted for the way it currently is would today be the role of the Bond villains, not the heroes. That said, like Arthur C Clarke's other famous novels, this book is rich with imagination. I really felt like I was on Mars from the care the author took to describe the planet's peculiarities. I think the biggest takeaway that I'll have from this book is that we will always be arriving on new horizons with our current prejudices and flaws. Things that this book took to be benign and reasonable, a person today would be loathe to consider without extensive consultation and research of the effects. Reading history about settler-colonials arriving in North America, you can now see their errors in judgement clear as day. I wonder, as we gingerly probe new horizons of exploration, if we will step forward with a touch more caution and humility about our flaws.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Goran Lowie

    What a fascinating little book! This is an atypical Clarke with a stronger-than-usual focus on story and characters. THE SANDS OF MARS reads like a non-fiction travelogue/part of a memoire of Martian pioneers. There's a lot of stuff on terraforming, Martian colonies and space trips. It feels more like Verne than Clarke, an often banal story that suddenly gets the usual Clarkian reveals and highlights. It's a fun story where you can easily relate to the protagonist. The pacing and the way the stor What a fascinating little book! This is an atypical Clarke with a stronger-than-usual focus on story and characters. THE SANDS OF MARS reads like a non-fiction travelogue/part of a memoire of Martian pioneers. There's a lot of stuff on terraforming, Martian colonies and space trips. It feels more like Verne than Clarke, an often banal story that suddenly gets the usual Clarkian reveals and highlights. It's a fun story where you can easily relate to the protagonist. The pacing and the way the story is told is quite well done- what starts as a travelogue turns into an adventure novel and then a full-on mystery. Would recommend to all fans of early golden age sci-fi! 3.5 stars.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Daniel Kukwa

    The first Arthur Clarke story I've ever had to read as an historical artifact, as opposed to a simple novel. By his own admission, the story is written prior to the major (and by implication, disappointing) discoveries in the 60s and 70s about the spartan/sterile nature of Mars. The result is almost like reading an alternate universe rendition of the red planet; a final visit to a Mars more recognizable by Ray Bradbury than by authors like Ben Bova. It's both fascinating & deeply weird. On top o The first Arthur Clarke story I've ever had to read as an historical artifact, as opposed to a simple novel. By his own admission, the story is written prior to the major (and by implication, disappointing) discoveries in the 60s and 70s about the spartan/sterile nature of Mars. The result is almost like reading an alternate universe rendition of the red planet; a final visit to a Mars more recognizable by Ray Bradbury than by authors like Ben Bova. It's both fascinating & deeply weird. On top of that, the second act of the novel reads like too much technical manual-meets-soap opera, and isn't a patch on the much more brilliant opening, and the very surprising conclusion. This is definitely the oddest Clarke novel I have read to date, and most of it is held together by the sheer strength of his prose style.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Tomer

    {rounded down from 2.5} At times it almost funny and I did appreciate the autobiography elements with some humor on authors of the genre and breaking the fourth page.. nonetheless I just could not attach to the plot and any main events, sorry.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Jamila

    Enjoyed this very much!! Made me laugh on the very first page, and was full of that sense of wonder that i consider a mandatory part of scifi. Also a really easy read! Which is rare in classic scifi. I mean classic scifi is so hit and miss but for me this one was a hit \o/

  28. 4 out of 5

    Barbie

    What a twist and what an ending.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Fernando Cárdenas

    Masterpiece of science fiction. The Sands of Mars explore the basics of space exploration and its implications in human society and politic interaction by simple sending a writer to a colony in mars. By investigating and developing the technology (view spoiler)[ how to be an autonomous colony (hide spoiler)] the story is set without further implications. That simple yet complex plot is enough to give us this amazing book with Gibson as the center piece of the conflict in which he does not know Masterpiece of science fiction. The Sands of Mars explore the basics of space exploration and its implications in human society and politic interaction by simple sending a writer to a colony in mars. By investigating and developing the technology (view spoiler)[ how to be an autonomous colony (hide spoiler)] the story is set without further implications. That simple yet complex plot is enough to give us this amazing book with Gibson as the center piece of the conflict in which he does not know he is involved until the final pages. Also, the martians are If you like non-war plots this book is for you.

  30. 4 out of 5

    David Roberts

    I am reviewing the hard science fiction novel The Sands Of Mars by Arthur C Clarke which is a very good book which I bought from kindle. This is one of his early books written in 1951. The plot is an author is on his way to Mars when his ship, he is flying solo, runs into trouble. He is taken aboard a space freighter and completes his journey to Mars. He is stuck on the freighter for a while and the crew mostly leave him alone and he spends alot of his time reading magazines. There is only a sma I am reviewing the hard science fiction novel The Sands Of Mars by Arthur C Clarke which is a very good book which I bought from kindle. This is one of his early books written in 1951. The plot is an author is on his way to Mars when his ship, he is flying solo, runs into trouble. He is taken aboard a space freighter and completes his journey to Mars. He is stuck on the freighter for a while and the crew mostly leave him alone and he spends alot of his time reading magazines. There is only a small crew aboard the freighter, much smaller than on a passenger ship. He meets up with his son who is due to get married & also Mars is having problems getting supplies from Earth & getting a fair price for what they send to Earth. The way around this is to turn Mars into another Earth meaning they need plants etc to turn the atmosphere into something breathable. It's a charming story and does have a happy ending. I think Clarke though has written better stories than this. The story is only around 200 pages so is moderately long. I think A Fall Of Moondust is my favourite story by him. It's also amazing how fertile his imagination was and rather interestingly he wrote a paper about how communication satellites would function and one was finally built and put in orbit a patent for the builder's was refused as Clarke had done all the hard work as far as working out how it would work.

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