86 books like The Case for Mars

By Robert Zubrin, Richard Wagner,

Here are 86 books that The Case for Mars fans have personally recommended if you like The Case for Mars. Shepherd is a community of 11,000+ authors and super readers sharing their favorite books with the world.

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Book cover of Rare Earth: Why Complex Life Is Uncommon in the Universe

Edward P.J. van den Heuvel Author Of The Amazing Unity of the Universe: And Its Origin in the Big Bang

From my list on the history of the universe and the life in it.

Why am I passionate about this?

I have loved astronomy since high school when I built my first telescope. I subsequently have been lucky enough to become a professional astronomer. I studied physics and astronomy at Utrecht University. After obtaining my PhD, I was postdoc at Lick Observatory in California, and after that became professor of astronomy, first in Brussels and later in Amsterdam. I have always loved teaching as well as my research on the physics and formation and evolution of neutron stars and black holes in binary systems, on which I, together with my Danish colleague Thomas Tauris, published the first textbook, which came out in 2023 in the USA.  

Edward's book list on the history of the universe and the life in it

Edward P.J. van den Heuvel Why did Edward love this book?

While in the 1960s Carl Sagan and Frank Drake, based on a simple equation (“Drake’s equation”) concluded that intelligent life is abundant in the Galaxy, with as many as a million such civilizations with which we might be able to communicate, the thesis of this book is that intelligent life is exceedingly rare in the Universe.

The authors do not argue that life itself is rare. Their thesis is that simple life, such as single-celled organisms like bacteria, may have developed on billions of planets in the Galaxy. But that, on the other hand, animal life on land (multicellular creatures, able to move around) is exceedingly rare. And that these animals developing intelligence is still very much rarer.

The arguments which the authors put forward are based on what we know from the history of life on Earth in connection with the very special position of Earth in our planetary…

By Peter D. Ward, Donald Brownlee,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked Rare Earth as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

What determines whether complex life will arise on a planet, or even any life at all? Questions such as these are investigated in this groundbreaking book. In doing so, the authors synthesize information from astronomy, biology, and paleontology, and apply it to what we know about the rise of life on Earth and to what could possibly happen elsewhere in the universe. Everyone who has been thrilled by the recent discoveries of extrasolar planets and the indications of life on Mars and the Jovian moon Europa will be fascinated by Rare Earth, and its implications for those who look to…


Book cover of How to Find a Habitable Planet

Brian Hall Author Of The Stone Loves the World

From my list on exploring the galaxy.

Why am I passionate about this?

A child of scientists, I grew up planning to be a physicist, but became a novelist instead. Since I straddle the worlds of science and literature, I’ve always valued good science writing. It’s a rare talent to be able to inform and excite the general reader while not oversimplifying the science. I particularly thrill to books about exploring other planets and star systems, because when I was a teenager I read a lot of science fiction, and wished more than anything that someday, when I was much older, I would find myself on a rocket headed for, say, a colony on Mars.

Brian's book list on exploring the galaxy

Brian Hall Why did Brian love this book?

Kasting, a geoscientist, is one of the world’s leading theorists on planet habitability, who for many years has collaborated with NASA in the search for habitable extrasolar planets. He is more optimistic than Ward and Brownlee, arguing that we still don’t know enough about the exoplanet population to conclude that Earth is so very rare. How to Find a Habitable Planet begins by looking at why the Earth is habitable, then goes on to discuss limits to planetary habitability, the failed cases of Mars and Venus, habitable zones around stars, detection of extrasolar planets, and techniques that could be used to surmise the presence of life on those planets. What I love about this book is how it digs into the nitty-gritty details of the science, how it trusts the reader to be willing to think hard, and think deeper.

By James Kasting,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked How to Find a Habitable Planet as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Ever since Carl Sagan first predicted that extraterrestrial civilizations must number in the millions, the search for life on other planets has gripped our imagination. Is Earth so rare that advanced life forms like us--or even the simplest biological organisms--are unique to the universe? How to Find a Habitable Planet describes how scientists are testing Sagan's prediction, and demonstrates why Earth may not be so rare after all. James Kasting has worked closely with NASA in its mission to detect habitable worlds outside our solar system, and in this book he introduces readers to the advanced methodologies being used in…


Book cover of Roving Mars: Spirit, Opportunity, and the Exploration of the Red Planet

Brian Hall Author Of The Stone Loves the World

From my list on exploring the galaxy.

Why am I passionate about this?

A child of scientists, I grew up planning to be a physicist, but became a novelist instead. Since I straddle the worlds of science and literature, I’ve always valued good science writing. It’s a rare talent to be able to inform and excite the general reader while not oversimplifying the science. I particularly thrill to books about exploring other planets and star systems, because when I was a teenager I read a lot of science fiction, and wished more than anything that someday, when I was much older, I would find myself on a rocket headed for, say, a colony on Mars.

Brian's book list on exploring the galaxy

Brian Hall Why did Brian love this book?

Zubrin’s book proposes a tantalizing what-if. Steve Squyres’ Roving Mars presents readers with an exciting and suspenseful blow-by-blow account of an awesome thing that actually happened: the successful landing on Mars of the rovers Spirit and Opportunity, and the jaw-dropping success of those lovable little robotic beetles. It was hoped that the rovers might function for as long as 90 days. Opportunity performed for 15 years. (Spirit, that slacker, phoned it in for only 6 years.) Squyres, an astronomer, was the principal investigator for the mission, and he proves to be an enormously appealing guide: enthusiastic, excitable, grateful, humble. One of the many likable things about this book is that Squyres lets us see how scientists in charge of a years-long multimillion-dollar one-shot mission with a high chance of failure are every bit as superstitious as village peasants: Squyres makes sure to wear his tattered good-luck jeans to every…

By Steven Squyres,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Roving Mars as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Steve Squyres is the face and voice of NASA's Mars Exploration Rover mission. Squyres dreamed up the mission in 1987, saw it through from conception in 1995 to a successful landing in 2004, and serves as the principal scientist of its $400 million payload. He has gained a rare inside look at what it took for rovers Spirit and Opportunity to land on the red planet in January 2004--and knows firsthand their findings.


Book cover of Disturbing the Universe

Brian Hall Author Of The Stone Loves the World

From my list on exploring the galaxy.

Why am I passionate about this?

A child of scientists, I grew up planning to be a physicist, but became a novelist instead. Since I straddle the worlds of science and literature, I’ve always valued good science writing. It’s a rare talent to be able to inform and excite the general reader while not oversimplifying the science. I particularly thrill to books about exploring other planets and star systems, because when I was a teenager I read a lot of science fiction, and wished more than anything that someday, when I was much older, I would find myself on a rocket headed for, say, a colony on Mars.

Brian's book list on exploring the galaxy

Brian Hall Why did Brian love this book?

Freeman Dyson, who died last year at the age of 96, was one of the world's leading physicists. He was also one of the worlds leading mathematicians. Later in life, he became one of the world’s leading astronomers. He was passionately concerned with the ethics of science and the perils of human politics. He also read a lot of literature and had interesting things to say about it, and could write better than many novelists. In 1979, at the age of 56, he published Disturbing the Universe: part autobiography, part window into the mind of a scientist, part essayistic rumination. There’s no other book like it. Listing the titles of the chapters covering his life until age 23 hints at the book’s richness and unpredictability: “The Magic City,” “The Redemption of Faust,” “The Children’s Crudade,” “The Blood of a Poet.” In the book’s final third, Dyson addresses issues related…

By Freeman Dyson,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Disturbing the Universe as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Spanning the years from World War II, when he was a civilian statistician in the operations research section of the Royal Air Force Bomber Command, through his studies with Hans Bethe at Cornell University, his early friendship with Richard Feynman, and his postgraduate work with J. Robert Oppenheimer, Freeman Dyson has composed an autobiography unlike any other. Dyson evocatively conveys the thrill of a deep engagement with the world-be it as scientist, citizen, student, or parent. Detailing a unique career not limited to his ground-breaking work in physics, Dyson discusses his interest in minimizing loss of life in war, in…


Book cover of Red Mars

Perry Kivolowitz Author Of Get Off My L@wn: How a Computer Geek and His Wife Survived the Zombie Apocalypse

From my list on inspiring depressing books Science Fiction.

Why am I passionate about this?

Science Fiction can explore many themes, including relationships, philosophy, politics, and more. While this is common to many genres, SF is unique in that it also focuses on science-based “what ifs.” What if we could travel to distant stars? What if we could visit the past? The theme of “what if” hinges upon the forward progress of science. This explores the realm of the possible… a realm for which I am passionate.

Perry's book list on inspiring depressing books Science Fiction

Perry Kivolowitz Why did Perry love this book?

Another work spanning more than a hundred years and featuring many rich characters, crises, and drama, the Mars Trilogy makes a great summer read. At a little more than 1600 pages, the trilogy is like three seasons of a really engrossing television series.

The trilogy contains ample portions of science, science fiction, politics, and explorations of the human condition. There’s even some boom-boom for those who like a few explosions in their stories. Like my other preferences, there’s little “magic” in the Trilogy’s universe; instead, things mostly make sense after accepting a couple of assumptions. The richness of the characters really stood out for me, helped by the fact that the characters, by and large, experience long lifetimes!

By Kim Stanley Robinson,

Why should I read it?

11 authors picked Red Mars as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The first novel in Kim Stanley Robinson's massively successful and lavishly praised Mars trilogy. 'The ultimate in future history' Daily Mail

Mars - the barren, forbidding planet that epitomises mankind's dreams of space conquest.

From the first pioneers who looked back at Earth and saw a small blue star, to the first colonists - hand-picked scientists with the skills necessary to create life from cold desert - Red Mars is the story of a new genesis.

It is also the story of how Man must struggle against his own self-destructive mechanisms to achieve his dreams: before he even sets foot…


Book cover of The Martian

Johnny B. Truant Author Of Dead City

From my list on Sci-Fi real science that justifies unreal things.

Why am I passionate about this?

Before I was an author, I was a scientist pursuing a PhD in molecular genetics. When I left the lab and started writing, that scientist’s need for real-world sense stuck with me and became a theme in everything I write. The authors I like understand that “suspension of disbelief” is a limited resource, so they’d better only ask readers for it when it counts. Get the baseline facts and logic right, and I’ll believe and enjoy the fantastical stuff spun from it so much more. 

Johnny's book list on Sci-Fi real science that justifies unreal things

Johnny B. Truant Why did Johnny love this book?

You can’t get more “real science" than this book! The author is an engineer who refuses to ask readers to take things on faith if there’s any way he can give them a real-world grounding with the science we already have. 

I loved it because I completely and totally believed it. Weir works within the rules of the real world rather than ignoring them and hoping readers don’t notice, which is what so many books do. All you need to do is believe that a manned mission to Mars is possible, and the rest won’t raise a single “but wait; that wouldn’t happen” eyebrow!

By Andy Weir,

Why should I read it?

20 authors picked The Martian as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 10, 11, 12, and 13.

What is this book about?

Six days ago, astronaut Mark Watney became one of the first people to walk on Mars. Now, he's sure he'll be the first person to die there. After a dust storm nearly kills him and forces his crew to evacuate while thinking him dead, Mark finds himself stranded and completely alone with no way to even signal Earth that he's alive--and even if he could get word out, his supplies would be gone long before a rescue could arrive. Chances are, though, he won't have time to starve to death. The damaged machinery, unforgiving environment, or plain-old human error are…


Book cover of The Martian Chronicles

Robert Zwilling Author Of Asteroid Fever

From my list on science fiction books where the big break doesn't change anything.

Why am I passionate about this?

I have always been fascinated by science and everything mysterious. I love to read science fiction and mystery stories. I use art and literature to explore reality. Writing or painting allows me to link seemingly unrelated topics together to create my own explanations for why things are the way they appear to be. The biggest things in the universe are replicated on Earth right down to sub-atomic size. I call that life imitating stars. Life is an endless resource found everywhere in the universe, and it's not restricted to just light or heat to grow; it only needs energy.

Robert's book list on science fiction books where the big break doesn't change anything

Robert Zwilling Why did Robert love this book?

I liked this book because it's a collection of stories about unrelated people's exploits, real and imagined, as they work together to make their mark in a new frontier.

The stories portray amazing accounts of people ranging from the mundane to the supernatural. It's one of the last stories to describe Mars with a somewhat hospitable climate, and that doesn't matter.

The incredible storytelling of Ray Bradbury makes anything that his characters are doing always believable no matter where they are because he writes from the heart.

By Ray Bradbury,

Why should I read it?

15 authors picked The Martian Chronicles as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The Martian Chronicles, a seminal work in Ray Bradbury's career, whose extraordinary power and imagination remain undimmed by time's passage, is available from Simon & Schuster for the first time.

In The Martian Chronicles, Ray Bradbury, America’s preeminent storyteller, imagines a place of hope, dreams, and metaphor— of crystal pillars and fossil seas—where a fine dust settles on the great empty cities of a vanished, devastated civilization. Earthmen conquer Mars and then are conquered by it, lulled by dangerous lies of comfort and familiarity, and enchanted by the lingering glamour of an ancient, mysterious native race. In this classic work…


Book cover of The Alternate Martians

Marc Hartzman Author Of The Big Book of Mars: From Ancient Egypt to The Martian, a Deep-Space Dive Into Our Obsession with the Red Planet

From my list on life on Mars as we’ll soon know it.

Why am I passionate about this?

My passion for Mars began when I stumbled upon an old newspaper article from 1926 about a lawyer who was in telepathic communication with a Martian woman named Oomaruru. How could I not be intrigued? As I dug into the story, I learned about his attempts to send telegrams to Mars, his disappointment at our scientists for not being smart enough to receive their responses, and the many other interesting beliefs about intelligent Martians that were prevalent at the time. The more I learned about this early history of Martians, the more fascinated I became. It all led me on the path to what became The Big Book of Mars

Marc's book list on life on Mars as we’ll soon know it

Marc Hartzman Why did Marc love this book?

There are so many science fiction books about Mars, so I wanted to choose at least one of the more obscure ones. This one is particularly interesting because it explores the idea of a universe in which the many famous Martian tales that came before it, like John Carter of Mars, were based on actual beings and events—the details were just embellished and perhaps misremembered a bit by the authors.

By A. Bertram Chandler,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Alternate Martians as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A space expedition to Mars find themselves in the worlds of H.G. Wells, Edgar Rice Burroughs and Otis Adelbert Kline.


Book cover of Vacation Guide to the Solar System: Science for the Savvy Space Traveler!

Christopher Wanjek Author Of Spacefarers: How Humans Will Settle the Moon, Mars, and Beyond

From my list on how to not die on Mars.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am an author and freelance health and science writer with expertise is in health, nutrition, medicine, environmental sciences, physics, and astronomy. I try to address all these topics with healthy skepticism, realism, and a sense of humanity and humor. I am the author of three books: Spacefarers (2020), Food At Work (2005), and Bad Medicine (2003). I also have written more than 500 newspaper, magazine, and web articles for periodicals such as The Washington Post and Smithsonian Magazine. My upcoming book concerns the engineering of the NASA James Webb Space Telescope (MIT Press, 2022).

Christopher's book list on how to not die on Mars

Christopher Wanjek Why did Christopher love this book?

Whimsical but devilishly accurate, authors Olivia Koski and Jana Grcevich take you on a journey through the solar system as told from the perspective of an overzealous travel agent. Ski Mercury's volcanic sands; paraglide through Venus' clouds; explore Europa's deep-sea oceans. Vacation Guide to the Solar System is the "official" guide from the Intergalactic Travel Bureau. Although the book is written tongue-in-cheek, filled with campy illustrations reminiscent of 1950s travel guides, you will learn critical details of our neighboring planets and moons. There's so much to see and do on Mars. But danger lurks: Although you'll feel only 38% of your weight climbing the cliffs of the Valles Marineris (the largest canyon in the solar system), you can still fall to your death, as they are four miles high. 

By Olivia Koski, Jana Grcevich,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Vacation Guide to the Solar System as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Packed with real science and fueled by imagination, a beautifully illustrated guide to traveling in our solar system

Imagine taking a hike along the windswept red plains of Mars to dig for signs of life, or touring one of Jupiter's sixty-four moons where you can photograph its swirling storms. For a shorter trip on a tight budget, the Moon is quite majestic and very quiet if you can make it during the off-season.

Packed with full color illustrations and real-world science, Vacation Guide to the Solar System is the must-have planning guide for the curious space adventurer, covering all of…


Book cover of Space Chronicles: Facing the Ultimate Frontier

Christopher Wanjek Author Of Spacefarers: How Humans Will Settle the Moon, Mars, and Beyond

From my list on how to not die on Mars.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am an author and freelance health and science writer with expertise is in health, nutrition, medicine, environmental sciences, physics, and astronomy. I try to address all these topics with healthy skepticism, realism, and a sense of humanity and humor. I am the author of three books: Spacefarers (2020), Food At Work (2005), and Bad Medicine (2003). I also have written more than 500 newspaper, magazine, and web articles for periodicals such as The Washington Post and Smithsonian Magazine. My upcoming book concerns the engineering of the NASA James Webb Space Telescope (MIT Press, 2022).

Christopher's book list on how to not die on Mars

Christopher Wanjek Why did Christopher love this book?

During his speech at the World Government Summit 2018 in Dubai, Neil deGrasse Tyson confessed that his original title for the book Space Chronicles: Facing the Ultimate Frontier was Failure to Launch: The Dreams and Delusions of Space Enthusiasts. The publisher rejected this title. I would have purchased this book either way, but the original title is on the mark. Tyson is one of my greatest sources of inspiration because he is so clear-eyed about practical challenges in space travel: from the physical and biological to the political and philosophical. Space Chronicles is one of many fine entry points into his brilliant mind.

By Neil Degrasse Tyson,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Space Chronicles as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Neil deGrasse Tyson is a rare breed of astrophysicist, one who can speak as easily and brilliantly with popular audiences as with professional scientists. Now that NASA has put human space flight effectively on hold, Tyson's views on the future of space travel and America's role in that future are especially timely and urgent.


5 book lists we think you will like!

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