am 20. Juli 2000
Many people who consider the phrase science fiction to be populated by Star Trek-ish characters and zap guns will be pleasantly surprised by this novel. Writers have always done a "what-if" regarding the Kennedy assassination, but Mr. Baxter has done a remarkable what-if in regards to NASA and the possibility of a Mars mission. In fact, NASA is the only entity to have actually been affected by Kennedy's survival; everything else -- Vietnam, Watergate, and every other political moment -- has remained surprisingly intact. The characters are true to life and the situations mirror what NASA might have done to prepare for a Mars landing, the blunders it might have made that are chillingly similar to the ones they made that lead to the Challenger disaster, and the ultimate soaring of the American and human spirit once success had been achieved. The only drawback is the technical writing; Mr. Baxter goes into perhaps too much detail on the technical aspects of the NASA missions, but not enough to detract from the human drama.
am 6. August 1999
I came to know Baxter's writing through his more SF type books such as Ring and the Time Ships and in those respects he seemed a natural successor to HG Wells and the others who used ideas to drive their novels. And then I see this book. The first thing that tipped me off is that there's no mention of his other SF books in any of the author bios, even though some of them have won awards and stuff and been generally acclaimed, in fact if you didn't see the listing of his novels in the front of the book you'd think that this was his first novel. So, geez, I thought to myself, a SF writer trying to play down his science fiction past in order to make himself more appealing to the mainstream, nothing I hadn't seen before but since I had faith in Baxter I figured I'd give the book a try. And you know what it's not bad, the history extrapolation are just as good as anyone else's but the premise is good and the feelings that it ignites in you, the actual thought of us going to Mars, if there's anything that rekindles that desire to get there, this could be the book. The book focuses more on actually getting there as opposed to what we would do there which is a small complaint, I would have at least like to see what happens to the characters when they got back to Earth and got on with their lives, I mean face it after going to Mars everything else is certainly downhill from there. That and the characters are a tad stock at times, of course the woman is a no nonsese lady with a chip on her shoulder and the African character is always angry and all the astronauts are "just one of the boys" and you do realize this during the course of the book but really when you take everything together it's a good effort. It does the job which is show how we could get to Mars and manages to be entertaining along the way, encompassing truimph and tragedy and showing the lengths that people are driven to realize their goals. Baxter's next book after this was something else along this line as well (Titan) and while I hope he gets back to his older stuff I can make do with this for the moment, it goes down quite easy.
am 7. Januar 1999
I just finished this superbly written, spellbinding novel. Stephen Baxter's technical background clearly shows and makes this novel so enjoyable for true SCIENCE fiction fans. There is nothing worse than a story involving fantastic "inventions" of new technologies which make no sense at all. Any technologically minded reader will enjoy this book as much as I did, simply because the scenarios are believable and, as we saw from the actual unmanned Mars probe efforts, feasible. The political undercurrent, based partly on actual and partly on fictional events, adds even more factuality. The minute details with which Baxter describes the engineering feats performed by NASA's subcontractors, as well as the many successes and failures prior to the Mars Mission launch itself, emotionally involve the reader in the storyline. The characters are not your glorified hero-types but as close to normal as they can be under the circumstances. The gritty descriptions of the tests and routines ascans have to go through may be objectionable to some "sensitive" minds, but they open up your eyes to the demands placed on the human body during space flight, and do not gloss over the physical and mental strains as many other science fiction books or movies do. Baxter's story fluidly interweaves the characters' past with the present and presents a well-rounded story which made it hard to put the book down.
am 30. Juli 1997
Baxter's VOYAGE is a history of the space program from the first US landing on the moon until the US mission to Mars in 1984.
Wait a minute--you say--we **never** went to Mars!
Yes, that's correct. As with Alan Steele's THE TRANQUILITY ALTERNATIVE and many other fine SF novels, Baxter postulates a slightly different--but very realistic alternate history. John F. Kennedy survives the bullet meant for him and is present in the White House when Richard M. Nixon speaks to the astronauts on the Moon. Kennedy chimes in and expresses a desire that the US go to Mars..and Nixon goes along with him.
The novel is a very realistic (gritty) depiction of that journey to Mars. Like Wolfe's THE RIGHT STUFF, Baxter paints a sometimes less-than-glamourless view of the aerospace industry and NASA. The journey to Mars breaks down into factions--those that want to do it for the glory, those who want science, those who want to protect their turf and projects.
The characters are realistic. The science is realistic. The alternate history is very plausible. Some parts of the story will thrill you. Some parts will break your heart.
As I said in my one-liner, the best book--science fiction or otherwise--that I've read in 1997 (and to date, July 1997, I've read about 75 or so this year!).
am 8. März 1999
Voyage provides a benchmark for what true science fiction should be...Taking what is known about science and playing 'what if'...And in this case, Stephen Baxter adds a twist by changing the course of history...
Anyone who knows the stories of Project Apollo and the post-lunar Apollo Applications Program, which included Skylab and Apollo-Soyuz, will feel right at home with Voyage...This book makes me proud because of its technical accuracy and attention to detail...Even more stunning and exciting is that someone had the gumption to take one of our greatest 'what ifs' and making it come to life...
And although the inter-center rivalry that plays out in the story (Langley vs. Marshall) seems like a dramatic touch, it really isn't...That rivalry has been documented in a number of non-fiction works in the past...
The book isn't perfect, though...I really could've done without the broken-romance angle that poor Natalie York is plagued with, and the seemingly one-note performance by Ralph Gershon...But the other elements are there, straight from America's proud spacefaring legacy...
At one point, we may yet reach Mars...Much like our missions to the moon, it will be a journey requiring all the resources and talent the United States can muster...
am 3. März 1998
There is little I can say to add to the praise already available about this book. It's a great read, and a detailed look at the challenges of space exploration with existing technology. But readers who enjoyed it as thoroughly as I did may be interested in knowing that Baxter drew a great deal of his information from a 1989 non-fiction book, "Apollo: The Race for the Moon," by Charles Murray. Some of Baxter's characters are clearly based on some of the real engineers and technicians that Murray mentions in his study of the Apollo program. In some cases, Baxter's fictional character is little changed from the historical figure: for example, Tim Seger, who is in charge of supervising the Ares technology in the novel, is almost a carbon copy of the real-life Joe Shea, who did the same job for the real Apollo technology. Murray's book, based on interviews with hundreds of people who worked in the Apollo program, and on NASA archives, is also very well written. So if you enjoyed Baxter, you'd probably enjoy reading Murray's account of what really happened between 1957 and 1973.
am 20. März 1998
A very good novel about how the past may have changed if one event was altered just a little bit. The story of the buildup to a Mars trip is very believable and probably close to what may have happened. I liked the way he kept taking us back and forth to the mission itself and then to the preparations for the mission. Overall, a very good read and hard to put down once I got into it. A personal comment here. On the back cover is a statement "the adventure as it should have happened." We may not have been to Mars with a manned mission yet, but with the way things have happened, when the human race gets there, we will be much more ready to stay and explore and colonize than in Voyage. This is because NASA didn't develop into the one-trick pony portrayed in the novel. I think Baxter realized that to when he listed all the projects that were cancelled because of the obsession to put people on Mars. It's a lesson any government, business or person can learn - concentrating all your energies on one goal will get you that goal, but what do you do then.
am 24. Januar 2000
VOYAGE was the second book by Stephen Baxter that I've read, but it's the best one. I have to say it--Baxter's got stones--big ones. He tackles an alternate history's journey to Mars in 1986 with ease. Everything is researched to the letter and feels real, from the inner workings of NASA to the tragedy of a nuclear-powered Apollo flight (shades of the Challenger disaster) to the characters themselves. Here is a writer who actually gives a damn about the characters he creates, and does not give them the short strift just to lavish everything on the technology. True, I wished there could have been more on the astronauts' exploration on Mars, but that was not Baxter's point. It's _how_ we get to the Red Planet and _why_ we should go that's important. He also shows the scientific cost--no space shuttle, no Voyager or Viking missions... To put everything in simple terms--if you like science fiction, if you are interested in the space program, or if you just like books that are damned good--read VOYAGE.
am 28. Mai 1998
An excellent idea. History takes a different turn and NASA heads for Mars. Forget that space shuttle rubbish.
Baxter seems to have spent a lot of time researching the politics and the decision-making process behind NASA and the US government.
As for the Mars mission. Not credible. Unfortunately for my opinion of the book - I had just read The Case for Mars by Zubrin & Wagner - so I don't think the route they took makes any sense. As for the means...Nuclear rockets, etc. might be possible (likely ?) if history went this way, but the route to Mars just doesn't hold water.
Finally I just never got to care about any of the characters, and the end result was obvious from a mile off.
Basically a great universe, great idea, poor story. The ending's obvious, from page 1, you're left feeling why bother.
Sorry I like some of Stephen Baxter's other work, but this one is a dog.
am 10. April 1998
As a space history 'buff', I truly enjoyed this book. It takes the dream of landing a man on Mars and turns it into a plausible reality, sprinkled with "official" government documents such as memorandum to the president and all that. The characters are diverse and intelligent, making the human element of this fictional space flight as interesting as the technical elements. My only gripe (a small one) is the manner in which this alternate timeline followed events in the real one. There's another space disaster (much like Apollo 1) that forces the United States to consider abandoning the program, and several key developers of the program are fired or reassigned as a result. Despite that, I strongly recommend it to anyone who wants to see a human walk on another planet.