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The Crack Magazine


The Red Planet: A Natural History of Mars by Simon Morden

Billions of years in the making, this story features no extra-terrestrials, no ancient underground cities and not even the odd alien pyramid. Instead science-fiction author Simon Morden puts on his “Real, Unashamed Science” hat to give us the biography of a planet, from its turbulent conception and infancy to the more settled state that still tempts us with the need to explore, speculate and possibly even colonise. It’s a gripping saga of vapour, ice, minerals and a distinct tendency towards volcanic activity. Everything shifts, melts, dries and breaks – this is a long-term landscape that has been moulded by time and weather. Perhaps it’s our terrestrial awareness of just such processes and forces that makes the Martian version so compelling, but it’s also the novelist’s flair that Morden brings to his scientist’s objectivity, conveying the drama and mystery of active geology (or is that martology?). GN-A