cover image Mars: Our Future on the Red Planet

Mars: Our Future on the Red Planet

Leonard David. National Geographic, $30 (288p) ISBN 978-1-4262-1758-6

Space journalist David (coauthor, with Buzz Aldrin, of Mission to Mars) unveils what is ostensibly a plan for human interplanetary travel, lavishly illustrated with scenes of Mars and photos from the space program. The chapters cover the technical difficulties in launching a worthy ship, the challenges to surviving on Mars, and the psychological effects of living in close quarters with only a few others. There is much good information to be found, but the work is marred by a confusing layout. Insets and sidebars often accompany unrelated text. For instance, an inset regarding the possibility of being thrown off course is laid out alongside a study on finding water. That said, readers will be intrigued by the chapters on microbial dangers and options for establishing a long-term colony. However, convoluted technical writing can make sections difficult for a non-specialist to follow. David attempts a lighthearted tone in places, but his word choices can be underwhelming, if not glib. Better text editing and layout would improve the book’s overall clarity. It’s a shame that the abundance of valuable information in this book is so difficult to extract, but the quality of the photos and illustrations might make it worth getting anyway. Illus. [em](Nov.) [/em]