Tag Archives: Mars

Red Rising (and rising)

YA lit easily makes up 40% of my reading choices  — don’t get me started on that Slate piece. For the past few years, a number of those books have been of the dystopian variety, most of which has been really interesting (please check out Marie Lu’s Legend trilogy or Neal Schusterman’s Unwind series for some underrated selections), but I had finally hit the wall when it came to scary prospective futures.

Or so I thought. Let us welcome a new contender to the arena, Pierce Brown and the start of his Red Rising trilogy. I was knocked a bit sideways by this one and have made it my duty to spread the good word.

Our hero is a sixteen year old Helldiver (a skilled driller who works deep under the surface of Mars) named Darrow. In the Mars caste system, he and his family are Reds. They believe that generations of dangerous work to mill precious elements is all to make Mars livable.  After an act of defiance, Darrow finds that everything he knows is a big old lie. Mars was terraformed years ago, with a whole society riding on the slave labor of the Reds.

Darrow is recruited to infiltrate the Golds, the peak of society, at the Institute — a Hunger Games/Battle Royale-style “school” that filters out the best of the best to be future leaders. While some of the elements here are a bit derivative of other books, it all works, and you really don’t care because the book is so engrossing. You completely forget that these are supposed to be kids between the age of 16 and 18. They quickly become fierce warriors, working to literally conquer each other and eliminate their opponents. Brown fills his book with tons of fascinating characters (Sevro will be your favorite, I promise) and forces those characters to come to terms with some hard questions.

The second book, Golden Son, is out early next year. Which is entirely too far away.

Have any books taken you by surprise lately?

– Jess


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Quest For Mars Continues

Today in 1971 the Mariner 9 became the first space vehicle to orbit another planet–Mars.   With India’s recent pursuit of its own  mission to the red planet, the allure of Mars remains a fixed point on humanity’s collective horizon.  As you might imagine, plenty of ink has been spilled over Mars exploration.  We’ll take a moment on this auspicious day in the history of space exploration to highlight a few items from our own collection.

Red-Rover-cover Red Rover : Inside The Story Of Robotic Space Exploration, From Genesis To The Mars Rover Curiosity by Roger Wiens.  As the chance for a manned mission to Mars within the next decade or more grows less and less likely, this book focuses on the history and future of the next best option, robotic proxies.  Equipped with state of the art tech that delivers the next best thing to actually being there, robotic astronauts look to be the future of space exploration.

Mission-to-mars-cover Mission to Mars : My Vision For Space Exploration by Buzz Aldrin.  When he’s not punching out dweebs who question whether he actually walked on the moon, Buzz Aldrin still thinks about space and planetary exploration. Aldrin’s bold vision sees humans on Mars by 2035, and if the political will existed to enact his ideas, it just might happen.

destination-mars-cover Destination Mars : New Explorations Of The Red Planet by Rod Pyle.  This amazing collection of Mars exploration history, interviews, and facts also features a survey of current projects from NASA, the European Space Agency, and private industry.  This insider account of space exploration to Mars will provide excellent and accessible background for folks interested in Mars exploration.

case-for-mars-cover The Case For Mars : The Plan To Settle The Red Planet And Why We Must by Robert Zubrin.  Aerospace engineer Zubrin makes a strong case for the colonization of Mars, and challenges NASA’s assertion of such a mission’s crippling costs.  Mr. Zubrin’s argument relies heavily on the use of the red planet’s existing resources to provide the vital elements for support of any settlement on Mars.

And how about a DVD to round things off?

Five-years-on-mars-cover Five Years On Mars from National Geographic.  This DVD comes from the Naked Science television program and the team from National Geographic, and includes images and video from Mars rovers Spirit and Opportunity.

Finally, a bit of music to listen to while reading and thinking about Mars:

Orbserver-cover The Orbserver In The Star House by the Orb. Nobody does spaced-out ambient quite like the Orb, and the music from this 2012 release will provide a spacey backdrop to any activity.

On anniversaries like this one, the Red Planet beckons.  Will we heed its call?


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