Book review: How We’ll Live on Mars

Book cover for How We'll Live on Mars by Stephen L. Petranek

At our core, I feel like humans are natural explorers. That nature led our ancestors to spread across the face of the Earth. It drove our desire to visit the moon. And it is currently driving us to explore Mars.

There are all sorts of reasons why we might want to live on Mars, but curiosity is probably the biggest. People just want to know what it would be like. It’s a blank slate, a new opportunity.

However, there are some big questions that need to be answered before a human sets foot on Mars. In fact, there are a lot of questions and issues that need to be addressed before someone even attempts the trip. It’s those questions and issues that Stephen Petranek explores in How We’ll Live on Mars.

How We’ll Live on Mars is a short interesting read. If you’ve read other material on colonizing Mars, including fictional books like Andy Weir’s The Martian, you’ll find that there’s not a lot of new ground covered here. Petranek lays out the biggest challenges that humans will face attempting to colonize the Red Planet, and some possible and plausible ways that these issues will be addressed.

More than anything, Petranek makes good points about the human will and desire to explore, and that space is naturally the next frontier. Whether humans go there for altruistic or selfish reasons (similar to how humans have explored Earth), Petranek’s bottom line is that it is something humans want to do, and something that we will need to do to preserve the human race.

While the book is interesting, it’s hard for me to put the book into my Must Read or Fun Read categories. For a short book that doesn’t break much new ground, it’s rather pricey on a relative basis. I recommend checking out his TED talk first about living on Mars first, and then deciding from there if you want to dig deeper with his book.