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Publisher's Summary

Jamie Waterman has made an important discovery on Mars. A cliff dwelling reveals the fact that an intelligent race lived on the red planet 65 million years ago, only to be driven into extinction by the crash of a giant meteor. But now the exploration of Mars is itself under threat of extinction, as the ultraconservative New Morality movement gains control of the U.S. government and cuts off all funding for the Mars program.

Meanwhile, Carter Carleton, an anthropologist who was driven from his university post by unproven rape charges, has started to dig up the remains of a Martian village. Science and politics clash on two worlds as Jamie desperately tries to save the Mars program and uncover who the vanished Martians were.

Listen to Ben Bova's complete Mars trilogy, including the first book, Mars, and the second book, Return to Mars.
©2008 Ben Bova; (P)2008 Blackstone Audio, Inc.

Critic Reviews

"[A] gripping and convincing conclusion....Bova deftly captures the excitement of scientific discovery and planetary exploration. This compelling story, balancing action and plausible political intrigue, will easily be enjoyed by both fans and newcomers." (Publishers Weekly)
"Another attention-grabbing entry in a series that continues to grow in stature, scope, and complexity. Once again, Bova in top form." (Kirkus Reviews)

What members say

Average Customer Ratings


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Science or Religion?

This book is a sci-fi novel with the theme of religion versus science. Science is represented by the planetary explorers of Mars, who are studying the planet after discovery of 60 million year old human-like life. A group of earthly religious fundamentalists has become so politically powerful that it can determine the outcome of elections. New Morality leadership sees the archeological work being done on Mars as a threat to its core religious beliefs--it wants the project shut down. I believe it's obvious that Bova sees the religious movement as a fanatic fringe; he even states that when religious movements become too powerful, conflict results. Lots of conflict in the book, but the resolution seems like an afterthought. The book just sort of ends, leaving the reader to wonder what the result might be...the epilogue gives a clue. I liked the book. It was exciting--makes one think.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • DJM
  • Franklin, TN USA
  • 05-10-09

Start At The Beginning Of This Series

Based on this installment in the Mars series, Ben Bova does not do back story very well. If you start here, you will probably find the characters to be paper thin and the story much to do about nothing. If you have the background of the first two stories, it hangs together fairly well.

Still, I was disappointed in this installment of the series. I really enjoyed the first two installments of this series which I have on audio tape and would give them 4.5 to 5 stars. Bova did an excellent job in the first two of creating suspenseful tales about the exploration of Mars, and I listened to them several times. This book seems more a polemic on fundamental Christianity than on the exploration of the solar system. Bova's caricature of Christian belief is over the top. As one of the majority of Christians who do not find conflict between faith and science, I thought his continuing tirade on faith versus science heavy handed and unconvincing (at one point he portrays a young high school student's persecution at the hands of the faithful for wanting to learn about Mars. He stopped just short of portraying Christians drowning kittens.) He did a much better job of finding some balance to the subject in his novel Jupiter (which I heartily recommend). If you have read/listened to the first two, go ahead and pick this one up to see how the saga ends (although you may want to wait for an Audible special). If you haven't read the first two installments, I think you will be disappointed if you start here.

5 of 7 people found this review helpful

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  • J
  • 10-07-13

By far the worst of this trilogy!

Would you say that listening to this book was time well-spent? Why or why not?

Being I was in the car and a captive audience, yes. I was very interested to see what Jamie Waterman would be doing in this book and how things would progress on Mars.

What was most disappointing about Ben Bova’s story?

The politics! This book became very political which added nothing to the story but showed Ben Bova as being a total left wing looney.

Which character – as performed by Stefan Rudnicki – was your favorite?

I liked Jamie Waterman in the entire trilogy.

If this book were a movie would you go see it?

No. It would not make a good movie.

Any additional comments?

The mars exploration in the book seemed more plausible then the politics. The politics was so far out there it seemed to be more science fiction then the main story. It was a veiled attempt to make the religious right look like a bunch of religious zealots and to show the devastation of man made global warming which is a total hoax.

2 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

Across the board DUD story. Ben, what happened?

before now a Ben Bova story has never failed me, what a writer. And Stefan, I love that man's voice.
Not even Stefan Rudnicki could save it. Maybe it's me, bad mood, whatever, after 6 tries I give up; six. I moved through the story, tried to find a high point, nothing; so disappointed. Ben Boba, Stefan Rudnicki, a remarkable combination; a winner! Nope! a story with all of the fascination of the alphabet. High Hopes, and money spent; so disappointed.
My advice, move on, trust in Ben Bova, but move on.

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Great realistically written and narrated.

Great realistically written and narrated. I look forward with anticipation to the next in the series.

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  • Debra
  • tn, TN, United States
  • 09-05-15

Love the Series...!

Ben Bova's vision of the future is 'Good to Go'..!!
I especially enjoyed the Mars series that he wrote.. I have always dreamt about living on Mars and this is about the closet to reality of my imagination...

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Author's racial and religions rants wear thin

I have purchased all of Ben Bova's Mars series books and enjoy almost every novel dealing with Mars exploration.

This final chapter of his trilogy has an interesting take on Mars exploration and justly updates many technological issues with the prior two books.

However, the weak link (even more so than the prior two books) is the author's unbelievable use of racial stereotypes of Native Americans and Christians. The ham handed use of phrases such as "that damn redskin", "that damn Navaho", etc by characters referring to the main character (Jamie Waterman) is totally unbelievable and distracting. His treatment of Christians as even worse (if possible).

The primary redeeming quality is the performance of Stefan Rudnicki who's uncanny knack for dialect enables the listener to identify with a diverse cast of multi national characters. One of the best audio books renderings to date.

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  • Steven
  • ALBUQUERQUE, NM, United States
  • 04-05-14

The worst of an uninspired series

I have found the characters in all three volumes of this series to be childish beyond belief. I'm not sure about Bova's background (note to self: have to look that up), but I can't accept that the type of people who would be selected for a series of missions to Mars would behave like 5-year-old children. It's routine, in this series, for team members to flatly refuse the orders of their assigned superiors with no attempt to hide/disguise it. Sorry Ben, but I believe the carrot and the stick wielded by any future interplanetary mission commanders would be too potent for mutiny to be a routine occurrence. Sure, there are behavioral outliers in any system, but not to the extent that Bova would sell to us. The ending of the series, was contrived and uninspired.

Bova tries to explore, throughout the series, the conflicts between science and religion. In fact, it's a major theme. It could have added value to the work, if not done in such an unrealistic, over-the-top way. Bova puts large numbers of significant religious leaders on the intellectual level with those who still say the moon landings were all a hoax. Again, there are always a few nuts in the mix, but they are not dangerous unless violent. It's the sane-sounding extremists in any belief system (secular or religious) who are a threat. Bova totally missed the mark. It will take several tremendously positive reviews before I will be spending my reading $$$ on Bova's work, again.

That said, I always enjoy Stefan Rudnicki's work. He has the kind of voice that adds enjoyment to the experience and a great deal of ability.

  • Overall

Scientists Rarely Counter Religion with Finesse

As science fiction, this book wouldn't challenge a teenager. As fiction, this book gave away the plot within the first couple of chapters. The ending was so contrived it groaned. The characters were two-dimensional and wooden. The overwhelming theme of the book is that conservative religious thought is at odds with scientific practices and theories. I decided to listen to the book to see if the author might come up with some new or novel ideas on this long-standing debate. I could have had a Mars bar and been more satisfied. On whole, I can't find enough value in this book to recommend anyone listening to it.

The narration was clear and competent, but a bit too slow and steady for my tastes.

2 of 6 people found this review helpful

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  • Stephen
  • 08-25-15


Loved the continuing story line from Ben, read brilliantly by Stefan Rudnicki. I just so enjoy the the premises of there being life still on Mars just waiting for us to discover

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  • S. Morris
  • 06-11-15

Good Read

Having read the previous two Mars based stories in Bova's Grand Tour series
as well as a few others and deciding that the Mars books were overall the
best of the series I'd read so far, I decided to read the final book, Mars
Life. Mars Life picks up some 23 years after the events in "Return To Mars"
and features Jamie Waterman, his now wife, VJ and Dex Trumble that we last
met in the previous Mars installment.

Mars has now over 200 scientists working there in a large dome now sited in
the bottom of the canyon adjacent to the structures found in the cliff face
by Waterman in the first book. However, severe funding cuts and attempts by
the New Morality to shut down the mars programme are threatening the future
of Mars exploration and Jamie Waterman has to find a solution.

One of the things I liked in this story was how quickly the reader "got" to
Mars. The reader was back on the surface of the red planet right from the
off and although there was some minor mention of the New Morality this
aspect of the politics that can bloat some stories was minimal and thus

Bova didn't fall into the trap of describing technologies that dated the
story as he had done in his first Mars book although his sense of what's
fashionable does hark back to the 70's where I think Bova is still stuck in
to some extent. Negative racial attitudes show its face in a few minor
instances which I always found rather odd amongst supposedly the highest
calibre scientists. Thankfully, apart from one character there wasn't the
usual wanting to get this or that person into bed narrative that peppers
Bova's books and which I find just an annoying and rather silly inclusion.
The odd reference to "slacks" are mentioned which as other readers of my
Bova reviews will know is something I find terribly dated and yet Bova still
clings to this term for some reason.

The key characters are well defined and fit well into the story and the
narrative was well paced I thought. I liked the story overall and I felt it
did place the reader on the surface of this distant world and certainly made
me want a manned mission to the mysterious red world to happen sooner as I
feel sure that mars has a lot of secrets to reveal. I liked Bova's theory of
life and how it might have become extinct and think that it's even plausible

Mars Life left me wanting more and I hope that Bova revisits the red world
sometime soon as this story leaves us in no doubt that there are many more
stories from Mars that are possible.

I would recommend this book and although it read as a stand alone story, I
do suggest that the other books Mars and Return to Mars be read first to get
the most out of this novel.

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  • Dean Wood
  • 02-14-10

Excellent Mars novel.

I liked all Ben Bova's Mars novels. I thought they were all plausible predictions of the exploration of the red planet. This is an excellent last chapter in the series. I just wish there was another book to read as this was very enjoyable.