A City on Mars: Can We Settle Space, Should We Settle Space, and Have We Really Thought This Through?

Books on Tape. Nov. 2023. 11:20 hrs. ISBN 9780593791936. $95. SCI
Elon Musk has suggested that a city-size colony on Mars could be in place within 30 years of arrival. Here spouses Kelly (a bioscientist) and Zach Weinersmith (a cartoonist) examine the obstacles to Mars living. The challenges of life in outer space have been overcome on a small-scale and short-term basis, but the long-term requires more research about the effects of radiation, low gravity, and temperature extremes, the authors argue. Much is currently unknown, from the long-term effects on the human body to specifics about health, fertility, procreation, and child development. Providing breathable air for a city and governing large numbers of people on Mars must also be considered. How many people are needed to create a sustainable population? Will corporations provide housing, food, medical care, and transportation? What happens when there is a conflict? The authors bring a marvelous zest to their narration of the book’s interstitial “nota bene” sections, while primary narrator Brittany Pressley performs the bulk of the book with enthusiasm and perfect timing and brings out the authors’ often humorous arguments and fascinating asides.
VERDICT The Weinersmiths’ (Soonish) lighthearted and accessible production is food for thought about space settlement, highlighting the many issues that must be addressed before humankind can realistically consider such an endeavor.
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