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Forget the bungalow, retire to Mars (Times of India, 4 Jan 2009)
"The goal is to make it affordable enough and reliable enough to move life from Earth to other planets," according to Elon Musk of rocket company SpaceX that's mulling a supersonic spacecraft to ferry people to Mars.

Musk, who prefers to distance himself from tycoon Sir Richard Branson's space tourism venture, Virgin Galactic, has his own plans for humanity's future beyond the atmosphere. His scientists are now working hard to make his "utopian road map" to space a success. "We're looking at the commercialization of space and the realization of a permanent presence up there. If we could lower the cost of moving to Mars below a certain threshold say USD two million, I could see that being a huge business.

"It's not like a lot of people would have to go, just 10,000 to 20,000 people out of the six billion on Earth. People could save up all their lives and instead of buying a big house or moving to Florida, they could go to Mars," he told

Not to say you oughtn't...but before you decide to retire to Mars you really ought to read Dr. Robert Zubrin's informative and very funny new book, How to Live on Mars. Written from the perspective of a Robert Zubrin who was born on Mars in 2071, it's a chatty, snarky sort of pamphlet, that's equal parts encouragement for new settlers, score-settling with various technologies and strategies that Mr. Zubrin disfavors, space science made comprehensible for laymen, and patriotic boosterism for the socio-econo-political system that the author envisions arising on Mars--nakedly capitalistic and generally libertarian.

Had I realized just how scatalogical the humor is I might not have let him, but our 11-year old grabbed the book as soon as it came into the house and read it cover to cover. He's now eager to move to the Red Planet, if for no other reason than, "to get as far away from you as possible." At any rate, it'll encourage many to want to make the move, but ensure that they're making an informed decision. That it amuses in the meantime makes it worth anyone's time and attention.

Mr. Zubrin's Middle East satire, Holy Land is also, unfortunately, timely at the moment.


Grade: (B+)


See also:

Robert Zubrin (3 books reviewed)
Robert Zubrin Links:

    -WIKIPEDIA: Robert Zubrin
    -PODCAST: EPISODE # 422 Robert Zubrin — How What We Can Create on the Red Planet: Informs Us on How Best to Live on the Blue Planet (Skeptic, 4/12/24)
    -ESSAY: THE CASE FOR NUCLEAR POWER (Robert Zubrin, 8/15/23, Skeptic)
    -ESSAY: How to Search for Life on Mars: First, stop refusing to look. (Robert Zubrin, Steven Benner, Jan Špa?ek, New Atlantis)
    -ESSAY: How We Can Get Clean Energy—Fuel and Human Progress (Robert Zubrin, 14 Apr 2022, Quillette)
    -ESSAY: How We Can Get Clean Energy—Is Nuclear Power Safe? (Robert Zubrin, 29 Apr 2022, Quillette)
    -ESSAY: Drain Putin’s Brains (ROBERT ZUBRIN, February 24, 2022, National Review)
    -ESSAY: Close the Sky (Robert Zubrin. March 2, 2022, Kyiv Post)
    -ESSAY: Fusion Power is Coming Robert Zubrin, 21 Feb 2022 , Quillette)
    -ESSAY: The Fusion Revolution (ROBERT ZUBRIN, August 28, 2021, nATIONAL rEVIEW)
-REVIEW: Malthusian Theory Has Always Been False: A review of Superabundance: The Story of Population Growth, Innovation, and Human Flourishing on an Infinitely Bountiful Planet by Marian Tupy and Gale Pooley (Robert Zubrin, 8 Sep 2022, Quillette)
-Mars Direct: Headquarters for the Mars Direct Manned Mars Mission
    -Mars Society
    -ESSAY:The Fusion Revolution (ROBERT ZUBRIN, 8/28/21, National Review)
    -ESSAY: The Significance of the Martian Frontier (Robert Zubrin)
    -ESSAY: The Economic Viability of Mars Colonization (Robert Zubrin)
    -Robert Zubrin (Wikipedia)
    -Transportation Testimony of Dr. Robert Zubrin at Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee Hearings: "Future of NASA". (October 29, 2003, Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation)
    -PROFILE: Mars or Bust (Eric Benson and Justin Nobel, January 2010, Guernica)
    -INTERVIEW: with Robert Zubrin (Ann Online)
    -INTERVIEW: Q & A With Robert Zubrin, President, International Mars Society (, 28 February 2000)
    -INTERVIEW: The Case for Mars Revisited: Speaking of the Future with Robert Zubrin (The Speculist, August 27, 2003)
    -INTERVIEW: with Robert Zubrin (Ted Chamberlain, September/October 2000, National Geographic Adventure)
    -PROFILE: Defender of the dream of colonizing Mars (CAROL SMITH, August 21, 2003, SEATTLE POST-INTELLIGENCER)
    -ESSAY: On to Mars!: While NASA fiddles with robots, a grass-roots movement burns to put human beings on the Red Planet -- soon. (REBECCA BRYANT, January 1999, Salon)
    -ESSAY: A Critique of Robert Zubrin’s Martian Calendar (Thomas Gangale and Marilyn Dudley-Rowley)
    -ESSAY: The Case for Colonizing Mars (Robert Zubrin, July/August 1996, Ad Astra)
    -INTERVIEW: A Conversation With Robert Zubrin: Popular Science talks to the author of How to Live on Mars about the prospects for a move to the red planet (Laurie J. Schmidt, 12.02.2008, Popular Science)
    -INTERVIEW: Zubrin on Terraforming Mars (Fraser Cain, 7/12/04, Universe Today)
Why did you write How to Live on Mars and why now?

I wrote it to excite a new and younger generation. I grew up in the Apollo era, and there needs to be literature to capture the imagination of the new younger generation. In the book there's a vision of a future civilization living and growing on Mars -- it's about creating a new branch of human civilization. As I see it, that new branch will have many of the positive and some of the negative aspects of America when it was young -- a place where the rules haven't been written yet. I think that when humans get around to exploring and building cities and towns on Mars, it will be viewed as one of the great times of humanity, a time when people set foot on another world and had the freedom to make their own world.

There are many different approaches you could have taken to writing a book about living on Mars. You chose to take a lighthearted, humorous approach -- can you tell me why?

It was a new way to reach an additional audience. I told it straight in The Case for Mars, then I told it in the form of an adventure story in First Landing. So this time I decided to try science humor.

    -INTERIEW: Q&A: Robert Zubrin, Mars Pathfinder (National Geographic Adventure)
    -PROFILE: Mars Explorers Call for Opening the 'New World' (Leonard David, 24 August 2001,
   -ARTICLE: Sign Up for a Mission to 'Mars' (Robert Lemos, 09.08.06 , Wired)
    -ARCHIVES: Contributing Editor, Robert Zubrin (The New Atlantis)
    -REVIEW: of How to Live on Mars by Robert Zubrin (Brian L. Enke, Mars Society)
I'm not even sure if one should call How To Live On Mars a "novel," a "satire," or a "reference manual." To be safe, I'll continue to call it simply a "book." No doubt, this small dose of common sense and simplicity would appeal to Zubrin's protagonist, a desert-smart 22nd century Mars settler who happens to also be named Robert Zubrin.

In How To Live On Mars, the future Robert Zubrin tells you, a new Martian settler lured to the frontier by promises of Great Wealth and Fame, everything you need to know to actually achieve Great Wealth and Fame. His step-by-step recipe includes everything from how to reach Mars (in case you were smart and bought the guidebook back on Earth before purchasing your cycler ticket), what spacesuit to buy, where to live, how to earn your Great Wealth and Fame, how to enjoy your Great Wealth and Fame, and most importantly, how to avoid distractions and mistakes along road to Great Wealth and Fame.

Simply put, if you're interested in space exploration, How To Live On Mars should be on your "must-read" list. The science behind the fictional backstory is rock-solid, as one would expect from the author of The Case For Mars and Entering Space. Humorous prose delights the reader throughout most of the book, setting a lively pace that slows a step or two in the more technical sections (usually accompanied by adequate warnings). But don't be fooled by the rolling-on-the-floor-laughing parts...this book contains nearly as much useful technical detail as The Case For Mars.

    -REVIEW: A New Land of Opportunity: One way to recapture the frontier spirit and relearn the value of hard work, self-reliance and risk-taking: a review of How to Live on Mars (GLENN HARLAN REYNOLDS, Wall Street Journal)
If "How to Live on Mars" is in the vein of 19th- century guides to the New World, it is also in the tradition of futuristic fiction -- using a hypothetical future society as a way of pointing up trends and problems in our own. There seems little question that Mr. Zubrin views the values of a frontier as superior to those of a closed civilization. He begins with a quotation from the historian Frederick Jackson Turner: "To the frontier the American intellect owes its striking characteristics. That coarseness of strength combined with acuteness and inquisitiveness; that practical, inventive turn of mind, quick to find expedients; that masterful grasp of material things." Mr. Zubrin has written elsewhere that he believes the outlet and example of a frontier is necessary for the long-term survival of freedom for those who remain behind.

Such frontier values are perhaps unfashionable in the age of Hope and Change, but they are widely held among Americans nonetheless. If "How to Live on Mars" inspires a greater enthusiasm for opening frontiers in space, it will have served a good purpose. But it will have done as much if it merely succeeds in reminding people of the importance of things like enterprise, hard work and self-reliance.

    -REVIEW: of How to Live on Mars (Taylor Dinerman, The Space Review)
    -REVIEW: of Benedict Arnold: A Drama of the American Revolution in Five Acts by Robert Zubrin (Thomas Lindaman, Common Conservative)
    -REVIEW: of The Holy Land by Robert Zubrin (Aaron Hughes, Fantastic Reviews)
    -REVIEW: of The Holy Land (Wayne Lutz, The Tocquevillean)
    -REVIEW: of The Holy Land (Rochelle Caviness , The Jewish Eye)
    -REVIEW: of The Holy Land (Timothy E. McMahon, NorthEast Book Reviews)
    -REVIEW: of The Holy Land (Heather Preston, American Mensa Ltd. Bulletin)
    -REVIEW: of Holy Land (Beth Goodtree, Israel Insider)
    -REVIEW: of First Landing by Robert Zubrin (Wil Owen, Rambles)
    -REVIEW: of The Adventures of Space Pioneers in the High Arctic by Robert Zubrin (Adam Keiper, Weekly Standard)

Book-related and General Links:

    -ESSAY: Mars: An Adventurer's Guide: The discovery that there may be water on Mars gives us more reason than ever to go. And NASA's got plans for doing just that. It all begs the question: What are we waiting for? (Laurence Gonzales, National Geographic Adventure)
    -ESSAY: Hopes and Dreams of Mars: Settlement’s a long way off, but a new era of exploration has begun. (Kenneth Silber, 3/02/21, Splice Today)