Mars, Inc.: The Billionaire's Club
by Ben Bova
Cover Artist: Stephan Martiniere
Review by Linda Marie Schumacher
Baen Hardcover ISBN/ITEM#: 9781451639346
Date: 03 December 2013 List Price $25.00 Amazon US / Amazon UK
Links: Author's Website / Show Official Info /
Mars, Inc. by Ben Bova is fun to read. The basic plot is a tech giant, Art Thrasher, is fed up with the federal government and sets out to privately fund a crewed mission to the planet Mars. Thrasher, owner of Thrasher Digital, Inc., is a multi-millionaire on his own, but the others from whom he seeks funding don't even consider him rich.
Thrasher is technically competent, but also a good salesman and the first section of the book is Thrasher selling his idea and securing the funding. The investors are humorous on their own. They range from the flashy tanned billionaire to the reptilian-type who is wheelchair bound to the proper southern woman. Anyway, Thrasher gets his funding, secures his technical team and his astronauts.
Mars, Inc. covers some of the technical lingo, but not too much to require astrophysics reference books while you are reading. Thrasher has to maneuver the government bureaucracy to get his various launch permits, and the Mars rocket uses a nuclear propulsion and power system, that complicates the project further. Overall it is amusing to see Thrasher wheeling and dealing to accomplish everything.
Thrasher is also a ladies' man. He has numerous love interests along the way. He uses some of them to advance his cause and some also use him for personal gain. What they both use each other for is physical gratification. Mars, Inc. is not a romance novel by any means, but it is certainly part of the story.
Mars, Inc. also has a mystery sub-plot. I am not giving away too much of the plot when I say the first rocket the corporation launches explodes in orbit. Sabotage is suspected, and some of the characters run around investigating the possibility. The mystery is only a small part of the story.
My overall impression of Mars, Inc. is "fun". It is technical enough to be interesting but has a lot of humor too, with the various personalities involved. It falls into the SF genre due to the advanced propulsion systems and the Mars exploration. Thrasher also looks into hypersonic flight on Earth because he is so tired of spending so much time traveling from place to place in airplanes.
I loved Mars, Inc. I have read other novels by Ben Bova and had similar reactions. I can't wait to read more!