A City on Mars Book Summary - A City on Mars Book explained in key points
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A City on Mars summary

Kelly Weinersmith & Zach Weinersmith

Can we settle space, should we settle space, and have we really thought this through?

3.4 (34 ratings)
20 mins
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    A City on Mars
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    Space facts, space myths

    Are you sick and tired of this planet? Well, if you are, you’re not alone. 

    As Earth’s problems mount, escaping to other worlds is becoming an appealing fantasy. Or is it more than just a fantasy? Billionaire-led companies like SpaceX make increasingly lofty promises about imminent large-scale space settlement. Or at the very least, the possibility of zipping to Mars for a weekend getaway. Yet a clear-eyed look at the issue reveals a more down-to-earth reality. 

    For one, many justifications for settling in space rest on shaky myths: that we can escape Earth’s problems and party it up on a blithe new world; or end war by uniting humanity against bug-eyed aliens; or get fabulously wealthy from space gems made of gold-pressed latinum. But most of these arguments have more holes than a block of space cheese. 

    First things first: While falling rocket launch costs have fueled excitement, space remains an incredibly hostile environment for humans. Hostile as in, deadly. If we can’t even get a handle on the ecosystem of our own planet, how are we supposed to terraform a whole new one? 

    Next, the idea that space settlement will end war by providing humanity with more land and resources is equally fraught. Most wars erupt over particular lands, not a generic square meter to call one’s own. And while riches may reduce some discord, they can’t erase the many, many reasons humans like to fight – from religious discord to cultural misunderstandings.

    Which leads us to the idea that some rare space mineral will make us all rich. Well, even if we stumble upon some rare mineral in outer space, our track record on Earth suggests it won’t be equally distributed among space settlers. And if it was, it would probably cease to be rare, quickly losing its value. Aluminum transformed from coveted Victorian treasure into a mundane foil when it became cheap and easy to produce. 

    After evaluating oversold rationales, two fair reasons for space settlement emerge: increasing our species’ resilience against long-term existential threats, and our intrinsic human desire to explore and conquer. 

    But even these reasons require careful governance. Establishing off-world settlements that can sustain themselves without Earth’s support isn’t just prohibitively expensive; it will bring numerous economic, political, physiological, and other complexities that its advocates like to gloss over. 

    For example, SpaceX’s Starlink satellite network briefly claimed in its terms of service that Martian activities were beyond the authority and sovereignty of all Earth-based governments, despite clear international laws and treaties regulating Mars. 

    While many prevailing arguments ignore political, physiological, environmental, and other realities, measured space expansion need not be rejected outright. But it pays to take a closer look at the harsh realities of outer space before we board the next rocket. Let’s explore some of them now. 

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    What is A City on Mars about?

    A City on Mars (2023) explores what would really happen if humans were to settle in space. Would we live up to the great promise of starting life anew on another planet? Or would we mess it all up, as usual? This engaging and funny guide answers every question imaginable about the prospects of space life – from making babies to interplanetary legal systems.

    A City on Mars Review

    A City on Mars (2021) is a fascinating exploration of humanity's quest to establish a sustainable colony on the Red Planet. Here's why this book is worth reading:

    • Offers a comprehensive analysis of the technical, political, and social challenges surrounding the colonization of Mars, making it an invaluable resource for enthusiasts and experts alike.
    • Through humorous illustrations, compelling stories, and interviews with key players in the field, the book presents complex concepts in an engaging and accessible manner.
    • Raises thought-provoking questions about the ethical implications of Martian colonization, sparking conversations that extend beyond the realm of space exploration.

    Who should read A City on Mars?

    • Aspiring astronauts and space explorers 
    • Science fiction fans fascinated by speculative futures
    • Armchair philosophers and ethicists intrigued by thought experiments

    About the Author

    Kelly Weinersmith is a behavioral ecologist and adjunct at Rice University in Houston, Texas. Her husband Zach Weinersmith is an American cartoonist and writer best known for his long-running webcomic Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal. Together, the couple has co-authored the bestselling book Soonish.

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    A City on Mars FAQs 

    What is the main message of A City on Mars?

    The main message of A City on Mars is to explore the future possibilities and challenges of building a city on Mars.

    How long does it take to read A City on Mars?

    The reading time for A City on Mars varies depending on your reading speed. However, you can read the Blinkist summary in just 15 minutes.

    Is A City on Mars a good book? Is it worth reading?

    A City on Mars is worth reading as it offers fascinating insights into the potential colonization of Mars and the technological advancements required.

    Who is the author of A City on Mars?

    The authors of A City on Mars are Kelly Weinersmith and Zach Weinersmith.