This sort of book would normally take me a month to read, because I
savor the pictures and the text. I try not to read them too fast.
Unfortunately, I wanted nothing better than to finish this book.
It was so casual and American-centered that I found myself getting angry
-at a book!
The author obviously wanted to deal with Mars through the ages.
He starts at the dawn of time, moving quickly through the Babylonian, Greek
and Roman times. The beliefs that they had regarding Mars may be
well established, but he brings up a lot of things that I just cannot believe.
When he goes on to the middle ages and the Renaissance, he focuses
on Christianity, which was the most stagnant of all religious groups when
it came to astronomy. I was really upset until he finally brought
up a couple of paragraphs about the Muslims, who named so many of the stars
in our sky.
The science starts to pick up in the Renaissance, but the author
only brings up the famous scientists. And barely any of it deals
with Mars. Fictional accounts arise here, also. There must
not have been many fictional accounts of Mars, except in mythology, so
the scarcity of the references can be forgiven. But when he moves
into the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, the stories and novels that
he references are randomly chosen. He mentions several stories, and
leaves out many big names.
Finally, when dealing with movies, he is contradictory in the
least. He casually glances over many big movies, both good and bad,
and then takes up a whole page describing how unrealistic the movie Total
In short, his opinions show through in way too much of the text.
What he likes, the readers are expected to like. What he dislikes
we cannot enjoy, either. It seems that he loved War of the Worlds.
While the book and especially the radio drama, were very influential, the
movie was not very good. But at least I realize that this is my opinion.
The science part of the book is not bad. Some of it is
dead wrong, and there are many spelling errors. Worse, on a picture
of Carl Sagan and another fellow, he mislabels Sagan.
He describes the Mariner and Viking missions, and I am very impressed
that he mentioned all the missions that the Russians flew (but I wonder
if he would have done so if they hadn't all been failures). But he
just glosses over them.
He spends way too much time on the "Cydonia face", and describing
the Mars cults that may or may not exist. I think what prompted this
book was the possible discovery of life on the Martian meteorite.
At least it was mentioned.
This book is best classified under Pop Culture. No recommendation
at all can come after reading it. Under the failure scale, this one
is dismal. The only thing that I liked about it was that many of
the pictures were really nice, and some of them I hadn't seen before.
For a high-resolution image of the Cydonia region, including
the "face", click