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"And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free." - John 8:32
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Author:  Bob Webster
Bio: Bob Webster
Date:  June 11, 2009
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Topic category:  Science

Review: How to Live on Mars - A Trusty Guidebook to Surviving and Thriving on the Red Planet
Book author: Robert Zubrin

This great book is one of the many reasons why Robert Zubrin has become one of my favorite authors. Not a prolific writer, Zubrin has a knack for bringing us entertaining and informative material from a diverse range of subjects. This excellent book is no exception.

This great book is one of the many reasons why Robert Zubrin has become one of my favorite authors. Zubrin doesn't crank out book after book of the same genre. Not a prolific writer, Zubrin has a knack for bringing us entertaining and informative material from a diverse range of subjects. This particular book is one of those wonderful creations that can be consumed over considerable time with no penalty while providing enjoyable and informative nuggets at each nibble from its feast of both humorous and serious material.

Set in a future when Mars is in the early stages of colonization, this guide provides a realistic glimpse at the problems any intrepid explorer who sets out to join early Mars colonists will encounter. Everything from getting to Mars to all the special requirements for simply surviving on Mars are addressed in "Part 1: The Basics of Survival". This half of the book is full of fascinating information that paints a clear picture of the vast differences between living on Earth and surviving on Mars. Zubrin's humor is liberally scattered throughout the book and you'll find yourself smiling frequently from his colorful insights into human nature. An example: In the chapter "How to Make Anything" Zubrin addresses aluminum and explains that the process for producing aluminum is very costly on Mars so that steel, being lightweight on Mars (thanks to the low gravity) is generally a suitable substitute at much lower cost. Because aluminum is so costly on Mars, for those rare occasions when it is essential, the guide book recommends "going for supplies to the spaceport syndicates, who offer a large assortment of excellent advanced aluminum alloys acquired through salvaging unnecessary components from Mars Authority (the governing body) landing vehicles left neglected on the tarmac overnight." This is accompanied by an illustration of stealthy figures "liberating" equipment in the cover of darkness.

In "Part 2: The Basics of Success", Zubrin addresses all facets of Martian life that provide for essentials of making a living. A job, investments, social relationships, everything the new Martian will need to become an established citizen and have an enjoyable life on Mars.

Throughout the book, the politics of life on a crowded, highly-regulated Earth are referred to in less than complimentary terms. Zubrin pokes fun at the bureaucrats of the Martian Authority who demonstrate one of the axioms of government: Wherever government exists, bureaucrats will emerge to demonstrate that there is a job for even the least competent of the populace.

When I received this book last December, it was my intention to have a review published within short order. However, the particular busy holiday season torpedoed that plan, and then I found myself in a 3-4 month process of building a new website for WEBCommentary (moving from a Windows server to a Linux server). Consequently, I found myself reading this book in short pieces. It soon became evident that this was a book that could be put down for long stretches without risk that the reader would skip a beat of the flow of information and humor with which Zubrin packed it. I found myself looking forward to reading a page or two before shutting down for a night's sleep.

For those who find the prospect of future colonization of Mars intriguing, this book provides a wealth of excellent scientific detail that anyone can understand. Zubrin, in his typically humorous approach, warns the reader of "high science content" when certain technical issues are addressed. However, I found these to be just as interesting and well within the grasp of most readers who would be drawn to a guide to living on Mars.

This book helped me set a personal record for longest reading duration for a modest-length book. It took 5-6 months to finally turn the last page, but I must confess, I was enjoying the book so much that I didn't want it to end so as the end of the book came closer I found myself reading only a page or two each time I picked it up!

This is a great book for a trip, a vacation, or just to put by the bedside as the days' "dessert" before shutting off the light and getting a good night's sleep. However, you might find the book so enjoyable, that you'll blast right through it!

However this book is consumed, it is taken with pleasure and is sure to entertain and inform.

I highly recommend this great little soft-cover book!

Bob Webster
WEBCommentary (Editor, Publisher)

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Notes: 

How to Live on Mars: A Trusty Guidebook to Surviving and Thriving on the Red Planet (Paperback) by Robert Zubrin, (2008)
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Biography - Bob Webster

Bob Webster, a descendant of Daniel Webster's father and early American patriot, Ebenezer Webster, has always had a strong interest in early American history, our Constitution, U.S. politics, and law. Politically he is a constitutional republican with objectivist and libertarian roots. He has faith in the ultimate triumph of truth and reason over deception and emotion. He is a strong believer in our Constitution as written and views the abandonment of constitutional restraint by the regressive Progressive movement as a great danger to our Republic. His favorite novel is Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand and believes it should be required reading for every high school student so they can understand the dangers of tolerating the growth of unconstitutional crushingly powerful central government. He strongly believes, as our Constitution enshrines, that the interests of the individual should be held superior to the interests of the state.

A lifelong interest in meteorology and climatology spurred his strong interest in science. Bob earned his degree in Mathematics at Virginia Tech, graduating in 1964.


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