Book Review: The Sands of Mars by Arthur C. Clarke

This book is wish-fulfillment science fiction about traveling to space and to another planet. And not just anybody’s wish, I think the writer’s himself. It was the only thing I could think when I read the book. “This is what he dreams when he shut his eyes.” To experience space travel and colonize another planet, Mars, as it will be the first planet humans can actually go to and most probably live on. Arthur C. Clarke’s dream and love for space are vivid in the detailed description of spaceflight, the grew, and the feelings of the main character, a science fiction writer Gibson. I’m not sure if you can read this book as a story, (of course, you can,) but something is lost if you expect the normal story arch or heroic quest to space. This is more like an exploration of what it would take to get to Mars and what obstacles and wonders you would experience on the way, and what would you see when standing on the sands of Mars.

This book is inspirational and heartwarming, but I understand the complaints that it is not interesting, that it feels like a textbook. I don’t mind that. I love when the writer shows his passion for the details. This is something you can expect from Arthur C. Clarke’s books, there are always scientific facts backing up his claims, and that, in my opinion, is good sci-fi. But what I mind is that I couldn’t get past the feeling that this book was written to the writer himself. That I was just a looker, trying to search meaning why this book should matter to me? After reading the book, I have to conclude the experience was this weird dissonance between inspiration and meaningless.

The Sands of Mars is a scientific poem for space travel. A dream, you can either jump into or watch as it floats by, and feel nothing. It is your choice to join into the emotion behind the words.

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