Tor, Aug 2008, $24.95
In his first trip to Mars, Native American geologist Jamie Waterman discovered proof that life existed on the red planet when he found the ruins of cliff dwellings. He wants to return to continue his anthropological studies of the dead Martians, but so far lacks funding.
On earth, the planet suffers from environmental disaster so the government has doubts about research into a dead race on another orb. At the same time religious leaders demand the end to the Martian exploration expedition; claiming heresy and a waste of money on a fake project. When Waterman shows a fossil from the fourth planet from the sun, he places his wife and him in danger from fanatics. Desperate, the couple returns to Mars to save their project.
Part of the superb Grand Tour exploration of the solar system, Ben Bova's RETURN TO MARS with the star of that title and book three MARS, Jamie Waterman, back tying to continue the exploration into a past civilization on the fourth planet. Mindful of the Planet of the Apes after the archaeological find of a talking human doll, Mr. Bova catches the nuances of the politicking of science as the politicians do not want the facts to interfere with the prime objective of reelection and the religious fundamentalists ignore ethical means as only achieving their end goal matters. Readers will appreciate this fine action-packed tale as a beleaguered Jamie cannot comprehend why his find does not propel funding while Mr. Bova makes it lucid where he stands on support to science.