Mars Crossing is a science fiction novel by Geoffrey A. Landis about an expedition to Mars, published by Tor Books in 2000. The novel was a nominee for the Nebula award, and won the Locus Award for best first novel in 2001.
The characters in the novel are members of the third expedition to Mars, following the failures of earlier Brazilian and American expeditions. The mission plan is based on the Mars Direct concept, where fuel is manufactured from the Martian atmosphere; the Brazilian Mars expedition selected a polar landing.
The book was released by Tor Books, a division of Macmillan USA, as a hardcover in December 2000, with the Science Fiction Book Club edition published in 2001. A paperback edition appeared in November 2001.
The following information comes from the book release notice:
- Geoffrey A. Landis, a scientist at the NASA John Glenn Research Center and a member of the Pathfinder Sojourner Rover team, has written a science fiction novel. Mars Crossing, just released from Tor Books, tells the story of an expedition to the red planet Mars. It has been called the most accurate novel about Mars exploration ever written, and has been praised by people such as Donna Shirley, former head of Mars exploration at the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory, who said "His landscape captures the feel of Mars as glimpsed from Pathfinder's landing site... an excellent, fast-paced read." Analog magazine calls the book "an excellent job in a classic vein." Charles Sheffield says "The characters are splendid, the scientific description is full and authentic, and the story has the epic quality of the greatest real-world adventures." While Dr. Landis has previously won both the Hugo and the Nebula awards for short fiction, Mars Crossing is his first novel.
Locus reviewer Jonathan Strahan praised the book as "a strong first novel," saying "the real strength of Mars Crossing has less to do with realistic portrayals of science at work, though there is plenty of that, and more to do with Landis's characters and the drama they face." Kirkus Reviews expressed the opposite opinion, however, saying "When focused on the planet, the engineering, and the epic trek, Landis writes evocatively and with authority; the melodramatic baggage—dark pasts, evil deeds, sinister plots—just drags along behind, raising the dust."
In his extended essay "The Renewal of Hard Science Fiction," David M. Hassler compared the book with Allen Steele's novel Labryrinth of Night, saying "in these novels both the terrain and the means of coping with it represent plausible, strange, and hence slightly funny measures all at the same time," and continues to conclude "I think the Landis novel suceeds even more [than Steele] at conveying the sense of the lonely, isolate character (the lonely inventor, perhaps) left to stand heroically against a cold universe."
- Macmillan U.S., Mars Crossing, Tor Books 2000 (accessed March 14, 2013)
- Mars Crossing entry at Internet SF Data Base (ISFDB)
- Tor Books 2000; available: here, accessed June 15, 2007
- "Locus Looks at Books: Reviews by Jonathan Strahan", Locus, December 2000, p.59
- Mars Crossing, Kirkus, December 2000 (accessed March 14, 2013).
- David M. Hassler, "Mars: Renewed Image and Heroic War," in "The Renewal of Hard Science Fiction," A Companion to Science Fiction (David Seed, ed.), pp. 252-255