"Money was maliciously introduced in ancient times as a tool of enslavement" -
Michael Tellinger

"The present belongs to the future and future generations, and all old laws, religious and other, should be abrogated immediately. Free us!" - Vinay Gupta on Twitter

"You never change things by fighting the existing reality. To change something, build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete." - R. Buckminster Fuller

"You find the strangest ways to be positive!" - Diane Duane, Wizards Abroad

Monday, October 10, 2011

To Mars again: Boundary by Eric Flint and Ryk E. Spoor (book review)

Here's a book that's come up in conversation a couple of times recently. Mars keeps cropping up, for one thing. And the "Face on Mars" crowd reportedly has been shifting their focus to Phobos--where, in the the interior, they think there is an alien base or artifact. Don't ask me. Maybe they got it from these authors.

Boundary by Ryk E. Spoor and Eric Flint (Baen Books, 2008)

As this engaging and mostly lighthearted tale of the first expedition to Mars begins, three friends and colleagues are sharing what they expect to be their last dig in Montana with paleontologist Dr. Helen Sutter. Joe Buckley and Jackie Secord are graduate students about to embark on engineering careers--Joe with the Ares Project, and Jackie as an astronaut.

After a strange fossil is found, anomalies pile up, and A.J. Baker, a genius with new imaging technologies, comes to help document the site. Then a robot explorer he is working with on the Ares Project finds a suspiciously similar fossil on Phobos, the Mars moon, and before long the four are on their way there--along with an equally likable pilot, security officer, and international crew of scientists.

Their adventure of discovery and exploration unfolds in intriguing and surprising ways. Although the existence of Jurassic-age fossils on Mars is a little hard to swallow at first, especially in such a reality-based nuts-and-bolts type of science fiction as this, the fossils do serve to raise valid questions about the future of humans in space. Besides paleontology, engineering, and space flight, the story is also furthered by puzzles in linguistics, biology, physics, and evolution. Add wacky humor, academic rivalries, and even some sweet romances, and it's a very fun read. Science-fiction fans will enjoy a number of in-jokes, such as naming the fossil Bemmius secordeii. Until we really go there, it's a good thing that we have stories like this to keep imaginations firing.

(adapted from my original SLJ review)

Update: aha! A sequel! I have it now and expect I'll get to it soon. It's called Threshhold 

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