cover image Mars, Inc.

Mars, Inc.

Ben Bova. Baen, $25 (240p) ISBN 978-1-4516-3934-6

Bova’s first Billionaire’s Club SF novel falls entirely flat. Multimillionaire Art Thrasher has his heart set on sending a manned mission to Mars, but doesn’t trust “the goddamned government” or the “fartbrains in the White House.” Thrasher cajoles a handful of billionaire acquaintances into providing the financing he needs to create a private space program. Bova (the Grand Tour novels) is on firm ground when he writes (too infrequently) about science, but his grasp of business and politics is superficial and his story sometimes incoherent. More than a year into the program, Thrasher is shocked to learn that there’s significant political opposition to the use of nuclear propulsion. And when the rationale for suspected sabotage is revealed, it makes very little sense. Most implausible are the human relationships—especially those between the short, paunchy, fidgety protagonist and a variety of classically attractive women. When Thrasher gives up his womanizing for romance, the development is both utterly predictable and totally unconvincing. (Dec.)