Mars One: Humanity’s Next Great Adventure, edited by Norbert Kraft (2016)

Mars One: Humanity's Next Great AdventureYou’ve probably heard about the Mars One project to set up a human colony on Mars. When applications opened, more than 200,000 people signed up, spawning many conversations, I’m sure, between spouses, parents and children about whether they would support the other’s desire to sign up! From this astonishing number, 100 candidates were selected, known as the Mars 100. From this, a final cohort of 24 will emerge after group dynamic challenges and isolation tests, and those 24 will spend the next 10 years preparing for the lifelong mission, with the first crew to depart Earth in 2026. This book is a collection of articles that explores what the colonists will need to know to succeed in the one-way mission. The book is organized into four sections, each one introduced by the editors, James Kass and Raye Kass along with Kraft. Within the section, experts tackle different aspects of the questions, giving readers an understanding of the issues and considerations, all referenced with endnotes. Section 1, Technical and Medical Skills, Health and Fitness, addresses the skillset needed for the colonists to manage emergencies and health issues during the lengthy voyage from Earth to Mars, and in order to set up the colony once they’ve landed. Remember, it’s a seven-minute communication delay between Earth and Mars. Section 2, Culture, Cohesion, and Compatibility, explores gender and age questions along with culture and group skills. Section 3, With the Whole World Watching, addresses the fact that this entire project is being documented and broadcast as a reality TV show. I found the last section the most fascinating – it looks at Life on Mars, examining the political and legal issues of an off-Earth colony, living conditions and quality of life, and finally, a science fiction author’s musings on what leisure life may be like on the Red Planet. The Mars 100 is gender balanced and includes four Canadians (three of them women); their ages today range from 20 to 60. You can see profiles of each candidate at the Mars One website, and they were also interviewed for this book, with quotes from applicants providing an insider’s perspective of each issue. It wraps up with a timeline of the mission, and a brief summary of each part of the selection process, challenges, and training. The next round of selection is in September 2016, and will whittle the number down to 40. Mars One is very accessible reading; in fact, space geeks will wish for more technical detail. As with astronaut Chris Hadfield’s first book, there is also a lot here for supervisors and managers! Section 2 is all about the importance of valuing diversity in teams, and how to bring a group to a better decision without hurting feelings along the way, or succumbing to biases against age or gender. That’s important in a workplace – imagine how important it will be in the tiny confines of the Martian habitat, where the goal is not just to colonize but to create a more egalitarian society at every level, one that is “a head taller” than the one left behind (127). A fascinating look at an audacious project. My thanks to publisher Ben Bella for the advance reading copy provided through NetGalley, in exchange for my honest review.
More discussion and reviews of this book: I also found the Mars One website captivating reading.


About Michelle Mallette
I'm just trying to keep track of the books I've read - what I liked and what isn't worth re-reading. My work as a librarian has included youth services so you'll find a wide range of interests from picture books and teen dystopia to adult sci-fi, road trip novels, and nonfiction. Comments and communication is always welcome.

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