Non Fiction

The Sirens of Mars by Sarah Stewart Johnson

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With Mars regaining a prime position in the news, I read this book at a very appropriate time. The author has written about human’s obsession with the planet as far back as the western world has tried to map and study it. Parallelly we are also given an insight into what her life was like with a father who was also equally interested in the topic and her forays into the field.

The tale twists and turns between the two main topics but continues to hold Mars as the central focus. On reading the afterword, I realised afresh how seriously the author takes her connection with the subject and all the other things that it implies.
It is not a book to read at one go, with a lot of content to absorb as well as scientific conversations. The extent of the science is not enough to alienate someone who doesn’t know the subject, but it did feel heavy during the mentions. The talk about her life and its growth and her understanding of Mars and the research associated with it help slow the pace down. The essence of humanities needs to understand this other planet is also discussed. It also talks of the idea of women in science, which is brought up at appropriate moments.

I liked the book, but it took me a long time to work my way through it. By the time I got to the end, I was not sure I remembered all of the beginning. This is mainly because I read only a few non-fiction books during the year. I am sure someone better versed than me in something Mars related would find this easy going.

I received an ARC thanks to NetGalley and the publishers but the review is entirely based on my own reading experience.

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