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Stephen Baxter
Adult Fiction BAXTER

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From Publishers' Weekly:

With just a little bit of alternate history, Baxter's excellent what-if novel about a 1986 Mars landing accomplishes its mission. The premise is brilliant: at the time of the Apollo moon landing, President Nixon authorized a Space Task Group to define the post-Apollo role of NASA. In real life, Nixon's directive in effect ended manned space exploration in favor of the Shuttle program; in Baxter's novel, thanks to one major change in history, the green light is given for a manned Mars mission, the Ares program. Seen primarily through the eyes of Natalie York, the geologist on the mission as well as the first women in space, the road from Apollo to Ares is potholed with bureaucratic battles, technical challenges, an Apollo XIII-like disaster and constant fretting about the inevitability (and necessity) of sacrificing lives to advance the cause of science. Baxter, whose recent works include a wildly imagined sequel to The Time Machine (The Time Ships), peoples his story with main characters who are as authentic as his science. By contrast, the supporting characters-notably an ex-NASA administrator who gets religion-are sketchy and barely integrated with the plot. Even so, there's plenty of imagination on display here-and research, too, as Baxter invents not only a credible mission to Mars but also a credible technical, political and personal history behind it. Author tour. (Jan.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

From Library Journal:

In this alternative history, John Kennedy survived while Jacqueline didn't, and the Kennedy Space Center is named for her. The novel begins with astronauts blasting off on a 1986 mission to Mars in Ares, with two men and a woman at the controls. Masterfully and in great detail, Baxter tells what it feels like, smells like, and sounds like to be aboard a spacecraft. The narrative then jumps back to 1969 and continues to shift back and forth throughout the novel‘over 500 pages of flashbacks through the 1970s and 1980s, including conversations between Nixon and Kennedy and side plots and characters galore, leading up to the Ares Mars mission. Although Baxter offers a great deal of background information, his story is nevertheless disjointed, and the characters never quite come to life. Not an essential purchase.‘Shirley Gibson Coleman, Ann Arbor Dist. Lib., Mich. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

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main characters Gregory Dana
Holocaust survivor

Ralph Gershon
African American

Natalie York

Phil Stone
Mission commander.

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