Read Voyage by Stephen Baxter Online


The space mission of a lifetime An epic saga of America's might-have-been, Voyage is a powerful, sweeping novel of how, if President Kennedy had lived, we could have sent a manned mission to Mars in the 1980s. Imaginatively created from the true lives and real events., Voyage returns to the geniuses of NASA and the excitement of the Saturn rocket, and includes historical fThe space mission of a lifetime An epic saga of America's might-have-been, Voyage is a powerful, sweeping novel of how, if President Kennedy had lived, we could have sent a manned mission to Mars in the 1980s. Imaginatively created from the true lives and real events., Voyage returns to the geniuses of NASA and the excitement of the Saturn rocket, and includes historical figures from Neil Armstrong to Ronald Reagan who are interwoven with unforgettable characters whose dreams mirror the promise of a young space program that held the world in thrall. There is: Dana, the Nazi camp survivor who achieves the dream of his hated masters; Gershon, the Vietnam fighter jock determined to be the first African-American to land on another planet; and Natalie York, the brilliant geologist/astronaut who risks a career and love for the chance to run her fingers through the soil of another world....

Title : Voyage
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9780061057083
Format Type : Paperback
Number of Pages : 784 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

Voyage Reviews

  • H. Honsinger
    2019-01-22 09:12

    As a published Science Fiction author with two books out in the market and more on the way, I have made a choice not to review other Science Fiction novels on Goodreads, if only because I don't want there to be any possible perception that I am running down my competition. I make an exception in this case only because the book represents specific acts of intellectual theft--I'm really not reviewing the writer's story telling as much as I am making a comment on his integrity.My command of the English language pales in the face of what I want to say about this book. There is a truly superlative book about the human drama of the Apollo program called "Apollo: The Race to the Moon" by Charles Murray and Catherine Bly Cox (I've posted a review here on Goodreads). You should read THAT book because, if you do, you will get most of the best stuff in this book, but better written and in its real context. Simply put, this book is largely plagiarized from the Murray/Cox book. And I don't just mean telling similar stories. There are whole passages that Baxter copied almost verbatim. Look at this:Here's one example--a quote from page 86 of the paperback edition of Voyage--the character is driving to Langley, Virginia:"When Jim Dana passed Richmond he turned the Corvette off Route 1 and onto the narrow highway 60 headed southeast. The towns were fewer, and smaller. And, at last, after Williamsburg, there seemed to be nothing but forests and marshland, and the occasional farmhouse."Here is text beginning beginning on page 9 of the new edition of Apollo describing the car trip of Owen Maynard and his family to Langley, Virginia in 1959:"The next morning they continued south to Richmond, where they turned off busy Highway 1 onto a narrow two-lane road, State Highway 60 and headed southeast. The towns were fewer now, and smaller. Fifty miles outside Richmond they came to the only sizable town on the route, Williamsburg, and after that it seemed there was nothing but forests and marshland and an occasional farmhouse."There is much, much more. The image of a flight controller lifting his hand from a flight plan leaving a soaking wet image of his hand, a word for word description of what a spacecraft Contract Acceptance Readiness Review is, words of NASA executive Joe Shea put in the mouth of the fictitious person who held his job in the novel, the description of what the fictitious person did when kicked upstairs to NASA headquarters lifted from Murray/Cox's description of Shea's activities down to key phrases, the description of the deportation of a key engineer on the Saturn V taken from the description of what happened to Arthur Rudolph--again taking not just the events but the words used to describe them, descriptive language that painted a word picture of Langley, the word picture of the Mission Control Center after the last Apollo flight (Apollo 17 in real life, Apollo 14 in the novel) down to the little flags left on the consoles and the gumbo party hosted by MER . . . . I could go on for pages.I have seen the phrase "sang like a rattlesnake" to describe the behavior of a machine in only two places in my life: in the Murray/Cox description of why two engines of the Apollo 6 second stage shut down early, and why--due to a failure that was identical in almost every respect to the Apollo 6 failure--a nuclear rocket failed in Voyage.In the discussion of the Mars voyage mission mode in Voyage, one character even echoes a Murray/Cox chapter title (Chapter 9): "What sonofabitch thinks this isn't the right thing to do" or something very close to that.I challenge anyone to read side by side the parallel sections of Apollo and Voyage and to tell me that Mr. Baxter did not lift whole sentences, key images, colorful and evocative language, quotes, and key ideas. This is not the garden variety accusation of literary plagiarism from non-fiction to fiction that "he stole the idea for this book."Rather, it is as though Mr. Baxter ingested the whole of Apollo and then regurgitated key portions of it when they fit his narrative.This is plagiarism, plain and simple. It is an outrage.And, in case anyone thinks that it is possible that Baxter contacted the authors and obtained permission, it ain't so. I have personally contacted Dr. Charles Murray and he informs me that he has never given permission to Baxter to draw from Apollo, and--further--that he regards this situation as plagiarism.I'm a Science Fiction novelist, too. And, I used the Murray/Cox book as inspiration for some things in my books--but I used my own words and told my own stories. Not this guy. This book represents an outrageous example of intellectual theft of the most despicable kind. This book deserves to be regarded with universal scorn and its author should make some sort of amends to Murray and Cox.

  • Arun Divakar
    2019-02-18 14:54

    The seeds to all good literature lies in two words :what if ?Take an occurrence in human history and imagine an alternative outcome to it and voila ! you have material for a good book in your hands. These flights of fantasy are what makes alternative history books some of my favorite reads.Here is an America where JFK survived the assassination attempt. Shattered and bound to his wheelchair, he urges the space program onward. A world where the Nixon administration did not drop the guillotine on the manned Mars program and finally in 1985, the USA lands a trio of people on Mars. I found this premise very very interesting and Baxter did deliver a colorful roller coaster ride in all of these 600 pages ! Much more than telling the story of three astronauts who go to Mars, the author here focuses on NASA. This then means the focus is on this technological organization and how it tides over many an obstacle in putting men on Mars. The human factor of this novel is quite unmissable and perhaps its biggest strength. With such a backdrop, it would have been easy for the author to slip into technical jargon and give the reader a long technical manual (read Tom Clancy !) and put his characters on the Mars. Baxter however goes the other way. He tells us of the men and women who build the launch vehicles. Those who obsessively pursue this one goal of pushing beyond the envelope of technology, the astronauts who lay down their lives for the bigger goals of technocracy and many more unnamed faces intricately linked with the organization called NASA.The novel spans the story of the first such manned space flight which lands on the red planet and how the mission comes to be. There is jargon yes but the author keeps this to understandable levels and the focus is mainly on people and circumstances. As befits a novel of such scope, the focus is not placed on a few individuals but more on an ensemble cast. The brightest flash of brilliance in the book is in the character named Joseph Muldoon. He is the equivalent of Edwin Aldrin in real life and perhaps the most pivotal character who drives the story forward. I liked him precisely for his all-American nature and the way he bulldozes his way through all the garbage to get to what matters : completion of the mission. Through the span of this tale careers rise and fall, people come and go and politics keeps poking its fingers in places it has no reason to and all this makes the story a great deal interesting. There is also the story of the three-men crew : Stone, York and Gershon who finally make it to the moon. When I was reaching the end of the book it stuck me quite odd that way back in 1980's it would have been rather impossible for such a crew to break free of the barriers of orthodoxy and prejudice to fly out of Earth orbit. Wondering why ? Read on and find out for I ain't letting the cat out of its bag where its all cozy and comfy !It took me a long time to finish this book. I couldn't find a logical reason for this as I moved at quite a stiff pace but still the book mocked me with its size of unread pages. The interest level for sci-fi in my reading list is also steadily climbing. Earlier I read up on Asimov and grumbled my way through Heinlein and applauded my way through Clarke but now this book makes me want to read more of sci-fi ! Recommended !

  • David
    2019-01-23 12:02

    It is difficult to classify the genre of this novel--but it comes closest to "alternate history". In this story, J.F. Kennedy does not die, and Richard Nixon chooses not to develop the space shuttle program, but instead to launch a manned spacecraft to Mars. The story is jam-packed with engineering and science, peppered with occasional politics. While it focuses on a few characters--primarily NASA's first woman astronaut (a PhD geologist) and a few engineers, the main character is really the engineering process that NASA and its contractors use to develop the spacecraft. Therefore, I highly recommend this book to all engineers, especially system engineers and system integrators. The book could have been shorter; the technical details go on and on. It is without a doubt, the most technically-oriented novel I've ever read--more so than even books by Neal Stephenson. But it gave me a good feeling for the pressures that act on NASA, its astronauts, scientists and engineers, and insight into their worldviews.

  • Anthony Ryan
    2019-02-12 14:09

    Baxter draws on meticulous research to weave a convincing narrative of what would have happened if NASA had attempted to put an astronaut on Mars instead of building the great white elephant that was the Space Shuttle. A fascinating slice of speculative fiction for anyone still pining for the flying cars and moon-bases we were promised.

  • Andreas
    2019-02-13 12:08

    Definitely my favorite Baxter. Unlike most Baxter fare, there is no “big thinking”, no Xeelee, no looming destruction of the universe. It is, quite simply, a novel of what might have been (and very nearly was) if NASA had been allowed to continue in the footsteps of Apollo all the way to Mars. It is written in parallel perspectives, looking at the mission itself as it runs its course, and at the preparations, political wangling and engineering that precede it. The heroine, Natalie York, is followed closely as Baxter explores her long personal journey in parallel with the preparations, as it becomes clear to the reader (and to herself) just how much one has to sacrifice to become an astronaut. The quiet geologist becomes an astronaut and an unwilling hero as she reaches for the ultimate prize of both her professions. Despite being fiction, it is in my opinion one of the best portrayals of the culture and politics of NASA during the Apollo and post-Apollo era.Baxter did in fact apply to be an astronaut. Unfortunately, he was required to speak a foreign language and thus failed to get in. In Voyage, his love of astronautics and space exploration clearly shows. If you liked the movie Apollo 13, you will enjoy this book.

  • Christopher
    2019-02-14 07:09

    This is an alternate history novel that I enjoyed years ago, with some caveats.I will immediately digress and admit that my thinking of this book is changing, thanks to H. Honsinger's insightful review, letting us know of Baxter's alleged plagiarism. That allegation, which I believe is well grounded, makes me reluctant to give this the four stars I believed it deserved.The story evolves from the crucial 'what if?' that is the traditional pivot point for the alternate history novel. In this case, what if President John F. Kennedy survived assassination in 1963, and went on to advocate a Mars project in the 70s and 80s instead of a space shuttle program?It is a fascinating premise. Although holes could certainly be poked in it, it's still interesting to think about how NASA might have followed the Apollo program with a living JFK. (Personally, I think it's entirely probable that the United States might not have even made it to the moon, assuming JFK survived--a good deal of our "go get 'em" attitude came from trying to honor the memory of a martyred president. Take that away and the Apollo program probably would have died a congressional death, in my opinion.)My major criticism of the book is that it is largely (I'd say 80%-90%) back story, so the way the book is described is false. The book is marketed as being about the first flight to Mars, but that's not really what you get when you read it. Most of the book is really about the early part of the program leading up to that first flight. The actual passages describing the flight to Mars come across like flash-forwards, and even those parts were unfulfilling. I was itching for the Mars flight, not its origins.As for the alleged plagiarism, I'll say that when I read the book, around 2002 or 2003, I could see--a little too clearly--that Baxter had read his space history. Several of the in-space incidents are modeled after--and at times very closely after--the real history. I was amazed at Baxter's allegiance to the historical record down to specific detail. At the time, I simply thought it was a lazy way to plot, just regurgitating known facts of actual missions. In my mind, it shouldn't have taken Baxter but a few twists to make those sections his own. I'm well versed in the history, having read dozens of books about the Apollo program in particular, so I could point to numerous occasions where Baxter took specific details of historical missions and wove them into his own story--Apollo 13 and Gemini 8, being just two examples.And wow, this book is massive at 700+ pages for the mass market paperback. I felt like Pavlov's dog wanting to give up on the test because he wasn't getting enough treats. Lots of setup, hardly any payoff.Now with that said, I thought the characters were fairly plausible, the plotting wasn't over the top, and many of the scenarios were believable. It wasn't the soap opera type stuff that has frustrated me many times with other Mars novels.If I had been Baxter's publisher, I would have asked him to do a few things to bring up the prose:1. Give greater emphasis to the Mars flight, which should be the core story. Relegate the back story to the background, if possible.2. Make edits to cut the page count down to 500-600 pages.3. Change up the spaceflight descriptions so they do not closely mirror documented spaceflight events. If I wanted to read descriptions of actual spaceflight events, I don't need to read it in so-called fiction.

  • Matthew
    2019-01-18 10:56

    After Apollo 11, a special task force gave Nixon three choices for the future of the space program: robots only, the space shuttle, and Mars. Nixon chose the shuttle; this book is a what-if that imagines the development of human spaceflight if Nixon had chosen Mars instead. There is a great deal of technical detail, which isn't really my thing, but this book also takes a very sophisticated and balanced examination of the complexities of what such a decision might mean. In addition to the dream of Mars, you also get hard looks at the human costs, both for the astronauts and those who sacrifice their families and health in order to keep them flying, surprising consequences for the unmanned space program (ie, little things like the Voyager missions get cut), fascinating accounts of the constant political in-fighting and ruthless battles between those who all want the same thing but disagree about how and why to get there, and a serious consideration of whether or not such Promethean technology does more good than harm.

  • Ryan
    2019-01-18 12:01

    This book blatantly recycles events that happened in the real space program; and literally rips off events and characters wholesale from other books, most notably ANGLE OF ATTACK by Mike Gray. JK Lee is Harrison "Stormy" Storms; right down to the wife who tries to commit suicide by overdosing on meds; or how he keeps the program going by cheating on his time cards.

  • Susan
    2019-02-16 15:21

    Derivative and dull.

  • Mairi
    2019-01-28 11:02

    Kui hea sci-fi kirjanik hakkab kirjutama alternatiivajalugu. Lugu sellest, mis oleks võinud saada, kui Kennedi asemel oleks tol korral kuuli saanud ntx hoopis tema naine? Mis siis, kui sealt edasi oleks Kennedy veelgi enam ja valjuhäälsemalt kosmosevallutust propageerima hakanud? Ja kui paarkümmend aastat jutti oleks suudetud hoida entusiasmi, rahastust ja muud nii, et inimese jalg oleks astunud marsile... Miks mitte 1986? Raamat algas sellest, et marsimissioonile anti start ning astronaudid tõusid õhku ning lõppes sellega, kui nad viimaks Marsile astusid. Teise, ja hoopis mahukama, liinina aga antakse nende aastate kulg ja pidepunktid, mis jäid Aplollo kuumissiooni ning Challengeri marsimissiooni vahele.Laotakse puzzle ning tükkhaaval pannakse see veenvaks, veidi tehniliseks maailmaks kokku. Kõndisin eile hommikul lapsel pooleliolevast puzzlest mööda (millegagi tuleb ju viimase arvestustenädala stress suvelõõgastuse vastu vahetada) ja mõistsin, et täpselt selline tunne oli lugedes. :)Ja mul oli enda pärast piinlik. See oli nii suure töö ja kirega kirjutatud raamat, et ma sain veel korra aru, mille poole oleks tarvis püüelda.

  • James
    2019-01-28 14:57

    Where would the United States' space program be in the 1980s if President Kennedy had survived the attempted assassination in Dallas two decades earlier? We follow the ambitions and trials of the main character in their quest to travel to outer space. Listened to a dramatization on BBC's iPlayer Radio app.

  • Emma
    2019-01-29 09:01

    Originally posted on have to start this review by saying sorry, if at any point I write Voyager instead of Voyage during this review, it’s because I have Voyager on the brain and literally can’t stop myself from writing that final ‘y’. I’m not even joking, it’s like it’s automatic now. So yeah my apologies.Voyage is one of those books that take a while to get into. I didn’t truly start enjoying it till nearly 200 pages in. But when I did finally get it, it was like one of those moments where you realise you are in love with a book and it just takes a while for your brain to catch it. It actually got to the point where I wanted to take my time and just enjoy the experience. I think we’re now at the point where this is my favourite book of the year.Voyage is an alternate history, to be more specific it asks what might have happened to NASA if Kennedy survived the assassination attempt in 1963. In fact you could almost read Voyage as a sequel to 22/11/63 by Stephen King (I will admit I haven’t finished that book yet but I’m assuming it ends with Kennedy not dying). The result of Kennedy not dying is he encourages NASA to continue on after landing a man on the moon and send a mission to Mars.The thing I love about this is that sending a crew to Mars isn’t easy, and Baxter makes it quite clear how not easy this is. And I don’t mean just the science and technological advancements that need to be made. I mean the whole politics and stuff that happens back on Earth. In fact I would say that the parts of the story which take place on Earth is more fascinating than the parts in space. Because you get to see all the behind the scenes details of what it’s like to work at NASA.I love that Baxter went into the tiniest details of what would have changed because NASA went to Mars. Even even noted at one point how Gene Roddenberry was working on The Next Generation and decided to go in a whole new direction because of what was happening at NASA (hey any authors reading this, one sure fire way for me to love your book is to mention Star Trek, just saying).But I think the best thing about this book is the main character. It is a female Geologist who joins NASA to become an astronaut. And this is important because it sort of blew my mind when I realised this book (and it only took my 95% of the book to realise this) is really about all the changes that had to happen as NASA for a female astronaut to become the first human on Mars.I have read a lot of science-fiction and even now sci-fi is really a male dominated genre and the books are mostly about male protagonists and it was so refreshing to finally find a book about a female scientist. And not just that but it details all the misogyny that she had to overcome to be allowed on that mission. And it wasn’t even like she was put on the mission because she was a female, in fact at one point she is told she won’t be on it specifically because she is a female, but eventually through hard work she gets it and yeah. I liked that.I want to point out this isn’t a spoiler, in fact you find out very early on that York is put on the mission. The book is just written in a very strange order (and this is one of the things I didn’t like about it), where the story from leaving earth to standing on mars is told at the same time as going from landing on the moon to setting out to Mars. It gets really confusing at some points especially because there are no true chapters which means the story feels like it jumps around quite a bit. It’s still enjoyable but you really need to pay attention. My other complaint about this book is the large number of characters and yet again that may be my fault rather than the books (I’m not good with names).

  • Ármin Scipiades
    2019-02-02 13:15

    Now what was the point of this?So, okay, at first I thought the premise really cool: Kennedy survives, woo, such Mars programme, much wow. Thing is, Kennedy's survival changes only the fate of NASA's space programme. Oh, there's no Watergate, for some reason. Ted Kennedy becomes Carter's VP, cool. But that's about it. Oh and, sure, the only other consequence of Kennedy's survival is that it inexplicably replaces some famous people with the author's fictional characters. The afterword explains it, kinda, but I didn't like it.What's the point?The point Baxter's trying to make is, perhaps, that a manned Mars mission wouldn't really have achieved anything, we as humanity wouldn't be better off with it. I'm okay with this conclusion. But this point is buried under 600 pages of NASA porn. I can get into NASA porn, but 600 pages of it was a bit too much, really. What's the point of this book?Alternate history, I like it. Not the Turtledove shit, though. Turtledove is a horrible writer, his overhyped books are all crap! Methinks. And I'm not into the whole "serious alternate history" thing either, I really prefer a good story over alternate historical correctness anyway. But there is practically no story in Voyage. Don't get me wrong, I love slow, meandering novels to death, but... On the technical side, we have two timelines, one following the actual mission and another following the buildup of the mission: I understand why it was kind of neccessary, but still a lot of promise was wasted there. We have chapters with different viewpoints, and Baxter does a decent job at making his tone different for his different characters. I'm not sure about his portrayal of women. The characters are somewhat memorable, true, but ultimately shallow. They are not rooted in their world either, which may be part of the book's elusive point ("NASA is detached from reality", which is explicitly mentioned a couple of times).But what's the point of the whole thing?Well, it's a good exploration of the "what if we had a Mars programme" concept. The NASA porn is really well thought-out, very realistic, feels very real, that's nice, and I'm sure a lot of NASA allusions and technical trivia went over my head, real NASA geeks must have a field day with this. But are those 600 pages really neccessary for this?It's a decent light read, if you don't mind the NASA porn. And it did entertain me, I admit, for a long while I really wanted to know what happens next (spoiler: nothing much). But I'd suggest you to just go read some nonfiction account of the actual space programme. That story is better, and you may learn something.

  • Eoghann Irving
    2019-01-19 09:19

    It seems particularly appropriate this week during the 30th Anniversary of the moon landing that I’m reviewing this particular book. Voyage is an alternative history exploring what might have happened if, following the moon landings, instead of developing the Space Shuttle, NASA had concentrated its resources to landing a man on Mars.The book starts when Neil Armstrong stands on the moon and finishes in the 80s when NASA sends a mission to Mars.The result is a fascinating but flawed look into what might have been. Baxter has obviously done a prodigious amount of research into NASA. Reading this book you learn a lot about the culture, language and details of space exploration.Unfortunately it is these very details which work against the book as a story. You probably won’t be surprised to discover that astronauts use a lot of acronyms. In keeping with the realistic tone of the book, so does Baxter. Which means he has to explain them all to us.All the description and explanation slows the actual story down to a crawl. While I found the details of the space flights and training very interesting, I didn’t really connect with any of the characters in the book till around the half way mark.This is a shame since once I had made that connection (created by a specific traumatic event) I found that the story picked up pace and became much more gripping to read.A second problem is the sheer number of characters in this book. Covering 2 decades as it does, it flits between many viewpoints never giving you very long to learn about any individual character, apart from the one central character who I found to be intensely whiney and annoying.Despite these flaws I still think this is an amazing book and well worth reading. It does an excellent job of showing the sheer scale of difficulty that is involved in putting man on any other planet. Baxter also debates the wisdom of such stunt missions or indeed space travel at all, letting each side put forward their arguments without heavy bias.

  • Martin L. Cahn
    2019-02-07 12:57

    This is a great novel. The only reason I give it 4 stars and not 5 is because of how technical it is. That's interesting by virtue of the alternate but very plausible spacecraft developed in this timeline of reaching Mars. Unfortunately, those details can slow down the narrative a bit in places.SPOILER:Although I loved the space shuttle program, I agree with the author that his alternate timeline would have been preferable. It would have been worth it, to me, to have given up that program in order to have reached Mars in the 1980s. Who knows what we would have accomplished by now, nearly 30 years later and about 15 years after Baxter published the book. America an the world simply must be bolder. I'm grateful for the rovers, but having humans on Mars should have already happened by now.

  • Krait
    2019-02-12 08:22

    In this realistic novel, Baxter puts forward a compelling alternate history in which Nixon chooses Mars instead of the space shuttle. Spurred on by JFK, who is only wounded in the assasination attempt in 1963, the book explores the possible politics, decision points, engineering, and human challenges that could have happened, and would have seen men land on Mars as early as 1986.Although this is alternate history, Baxter has got the right tone and mix of story elements to nearly convince you that you've picked up a sequel to The Right Stuff. Very well done.

  • Linda
    2019-01-24 11:10

    Baxter's alternate history tale of a manned mission to Mars is interesting but reads somewhat dry. Much of the book is told from the point of view of Natalie York who becomes (in this alternate history) America's first woman in space along with the first person to set foot on Mars. It's an interesting book and tries to look at both the benefits and disadvantages to the space program if Nasa had proceeded down that path. Worth reading but a little depressing given that in the 16 years since it's publication, the space shuttle has been retired and our manned spaceflight program is all but non-existant.

  • David R.
    2019-02-05 15:13

    An execrable confection. Baxter "reinvents" history but it simply isn't all that plausible outside of space hardware. He shamelessly steals plot material, both retelling the better known incidents from Project Apollo and ripping off Arthur Clarke's breathless PC nothings from "2010". And he populates the pages with exceptionally foul mouthed people who are little better than cartoon cutouts. Not recommended.

  • Jonathan Ward
    2019-01-27 13:20

    In contrast to my experience with Homer Hickam's "Back to the Moon," I quite enjoyed Stephen Baxter's "Voyage." As the subtitle mentions, this is a compelling alternate history of what might have been had a few key events gone differently. To sum up the main divergences in history without spoiling anything, John F. Kennedy survives the assassination attempt but is rendered an invalid, who publicly twists Richard Nixon's arm during the televised Apollo 11 moonwalk to redirect space exploration toward a manned landing on Mars. All moon landings after Apollo 14 (with the Apollo 15 crew and a rover!) are cancelled; the Saturn hardware repurposed to supporting a Mars initiative; and NASA never builds the Space Shuttle or the Viking Mars landers. We have then a plausible scenario for how NASA could have afforded a push toward a manned Mars landing in the mid-1980s without a massive funding increase.Baxter gets all the details right without making the book too technically challenging to read. People with a background in space exploration history will find extra enjoyment out of the subtle twists he spins on actual quotes or events. There are even not-so-subtle homages to "our" timeline. The crew of the Mars mission decides on January 28, 1986 to name their landing craft "Challenger." (That was the date the space shuttle Challenger was destroyed.)Baxter increases dramatic tension via multiple, interwoven timelines. The characters are interesting but sometimes a little flat. Several of them are clearly based on historical figures but are given different names as their characters' stories are divergent from real-life people. For example, Dr. Hans Udet looks very much like Wernher von Braun's assistant Dr. Arthur Rudolph, and an astronaut named Joe Muldoon lands on Apollo 11 with Neil Armstrong. Having historical figures intermingled with the fictional ones adds enjoyment, such as hearing John Young and Bob Crippen (the crew of the first space shuttle) act as CAPCOMs during post-Apollo missions that never actually happened.While we get a chance to sigh at the thoughts of great events that could have been, Baxter is realistic in his assessment of the political realities of NASA and the trade-offs in the decisions that had to be made for this "flag and footprint" missions. Just as the push to land Apollo on the moon left NASA with no funding or coherent and agreed vision for expanding our manned exploration of space after the moon landings, so the hypothetical administrator of NASA in "Voyage" also mortgages the agency's future for a one-shot attempt at a Mars landing. Perhaps space privatization in the hands of visionary entrepreneurs like Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos will someday free us from the politics of making apples-and-oranges funding decisions between NASA and other domestic programs.This was the first of Baxter's books I have read, and I will be reading more of his works in the future.Highly recommended for fans of space exploration and alternate history.

  • Brendan
    2019-02-18 08:54

    This is easily the worst book I've read by Stephen Baxter. While the title and synopsis would imply that it is primarily concerned with a voyage to Mars - on the ship and on the planet - most of it is actually about the politics of NASA on Earth to set up for that voyage ahead of time. It can be painfully dull and boring if you don't find bureaucracy interesting.What's more, in this alternate history the technology used is mostly the same as the Apollo program. So, in short, if you're already familiar with 1960's administrative work and technology it's simply not all that interesting.Most of the characters - other than York - don't really feel all too human or fleshed out. They're pieces in the game to advance the program, and Baxter writes them that way.Essentially, I was hoping for something that opened up my mind more rather than revisiting the past.That said, there are some good moments in the book - again, most of them York's. It's when she stops sounding like a geologist and starts sounding like a human experiencing the wonder of the universe around her when things really shine. Sadly, those moments are all too rare.There was potential here, but in the end Baxter wanted to write a book I didn't want to read.

  • Maria
    2019-02-07 09:16

    What is it about?What if NASA managed a program to get men to Mars? This book looks at exactly what needs to happen in order to succeed in this endeavor by 1986.Was it good?It was unbelievably believable. The only reason it took me two months to read was because of the nausea I was feeling over that time period. Still, this book kept me thinking about it even when I didn’t have the will to make the required eye movements to read.The main reason I didn’t give it 5 stars is because it started off a little slow and confusing. There are two time streams: before the launch, and during the launch. There were also many character perspectives at the beginning and I had a difficult time remember who was who.Once I figured all that out, the book was very captivating. It looked at the science, the politics, and painted a complete and convincing picture of how NASA achieved their goals.For more reviews, please visit my blog!

  • Kamil Muzyka
    2019-01-23 09:54

    This was an awesome piece of both alt-history and hard sci fi. Working within the space sector, I can recommend it as a read, for anyone who wants to get in touch with the boring part of space exploration. The one with tenders, pencil-pushers, committies and power struggles between ideas and companies. It's about the people, those who fly to Mars, and those who help them achieve this goal. The only weakness that annoyed me, was jumping back and forth towards the end with all those retrospects.

  • Mike
    2019-01-25 09:04

    Interesting book. Quite liked the way it jumped backwards and forwards between the Mars mission and the earlier R&D and political battle required to achieve the end goal. Baxter spun a fairly plausible tale which kept me hooked to the end. Like all good books I wished that their had been more to the story (though maybe in this case he cut the story a little shorter than he should have). By the end of the book I was glad that history didn’t take this route.

  • Stephen
    2019-02-01 13:53

    On November 22nd, 1963, John F. Kennedy narrowly escaped assassination while touring Dallas, Texas. A gunman’s assault left his wife Jacqueline dead and the president hospitalized, but he lived to see the fulfillment of the mission he set before the American nation in early 1961: land a man on the moon and return him safely home before decade’s end. During the famed ‘phone call to the moon’, JFK issued another challenge: Mars. Voyage is an alternate history of the American space program in novel form, the story of man’s successful journey to Mars. Voyage impresses, not only with its technical detail, but that combined with its even-handed reflection on what a Mars program might have meant in the 1980s. Baxter writes Voyage in two paths that rendezvous in the 1980s: after opening with the Mars-bound flight’s liftoff and following its initial burns and maneuvers to go for Mars orbit, he switches to 1969, to the beginning of another more arduous journey, when America steeled itself for a greater challenge and tried to find a way to make it happen. Going to Mars isn’t easier than the moon shot, and even the momentum gained by triumph at the Sea of Tranquility evaporates away as the program is stymied by physical requirements. The crew that goes to Mars will need to be self-supporting for over a year, not just a week; and though they will be far from rescue they can’t afford to take on too many supplies or incorporate too many backup systems. When escaping Earth’s gravity well, every gram counts. Politics and economics complicate matters further; as the Vietnam War escalates and recession worsens, the government is anxious to cut costs. The war and other government programs might cost far more, but NASA’s expenses are as obvious as their rockets climbing into the sky. The program carries on through sheer grit, urged on lightly by the aging JFK and pushed by the aerospace industry, wholly dependent on the manned program.And therein lies the rub, for though Baxter makes clear in his afterword that he regrets the lack of an historic push for Mars, the timeline of Voyage doesn’t shy away from the fact that such an effort would have been a mixed bag. The will required to make Mars saps energy for everything else; not only are many of the later Apollo landings scrapped, but the exploration of the solar system by probe is missed altogether, and the Space Shuttle is shelved. The aerospace industry, rather than diversifying to meet the different challenges needed for advanced probes, the shuttles, and the like, is fixated on one line of technology. It’s not a recipe for a healthy industry, either in business terms or for personnel: at least one character is hospitalized as a result of the stress. The turmoil caused by the constant overwork, in addition to all of the challenges of the seventies, makes the weary United States in Voyage a tired, ailed nation indeed; will those footsteps on Mars be worth it?In addition to the story of the United States as a nation, meeting this challenge and coping with the consequences good and bad, Voyage is a personal encounter, one driven by the ambitions and stubbornness of the astronauts who will make the journey. While some characters are historical (Chuck Jones, who here stays in NASA instead of joining Sealab), most are invented, including Joe Muldoon, who relegates poor Buzz Aldrin to nonexistence. The crew that lands is entirely fictional, including the book’s chief viewpoint character Natalie York, who is NASA’s first science-astronaut who sees space, since Harrison Schmitt never flew. Natalie is also the first female, and she's somewhat sensitive about the fact that she's breaking into a career dominated by fighter jocks. Part of her own voyage is learning to deal with NASA on its own terms: the space program isn't going to stick an unspaced rookie onto the Mars team without her finding a way to be indispensable. Space junkies will be most pleased with Voyage; I've read at least a half-dozen astronaut memoirs, and the technical detail incorporated into the storyline is on part with the astronauts' actual accounts. This is definitely on the 'hard' side of science fiction, based on real science, including the NERVA rocket. There are many references to the history-that-might-have-been, from the head of the Mars program quoting Deke Slayton ("The first men to step on Mars are sitting in this room") to another hanging a lemon in the window of the Mars lander to indicate that he isn't pleased, echoing Gus Grissom and Apollo. The modules produced for the Mars programs take familiar names, names like Endeavor and Discovery -- names that the Shuttle fleet used. Like the Apollo program, there are tragedies, some grievous; but while the Challenger of our timeline proved a source of sorrow, Baxter's Challenger marks humanity's greatest accomplishment. It -- the ship and the book -- are a fitting salute to the men and women of the space program, and a damn fine read. Related:The Martian, Andy Weir. Voyage wouldn't have caught my eye were it not for reading this a week or so ago, the story of a man stranded on Mars in the near future.Contact, Carl Sagan. Natalie York may have been a redhead, but I imagined and heard her as Ellie Arroway.

  • Stéphane
    2019-01-19 07:09

    Follow the training, hazards and experiences of an astronaut crew heading to Mars in a slightly uchronic America. Slow, methodic, detailed, it is a fascinating book for those who loved the Right Stuff (movie), for instance.

  • Michele
    2019-01-25 13:55

    Entusiasmante, quello che avrebbe potuto essere e non è stato😉. Lo consiglio a tutti gli amanti della hard sci-fi.

  • Vlad
    2019-02-18 15:07

    3.5. Meticulous and detailed, and a fascinating idea pretty well executed, but a little dry and laboursome.

  • Patrick
    2019-01-19 08:23

    Very interesting book of what could have been. Absolutely love Baxter's technical approach to science fiction!

  • Matt Mitrovich
    2019-02-03 14:09

    Stephen Baxter’s Voyage is considered one of the best works of alternate history. This hard science fiction novel tells the story of a NASA mission to Mars and considering how Baxter is one of the keynote speakers at the Sideways in Time conference, I figured I should check out his Sidewise Award winning novel before speaking to the gentleman. So does this 1996 novel still hold up?Voyage is set in an alternate timeline where Jacqueline Kennedy is killed on 11/22/63 and John Kennedy is left paralyzed. Although no longer able to serve as president, he becomes an outspoken proponent of manned space flight and is able to sway public opinion to fund a manned mission to Mars. The story itself is told from a multi-POV cast of NASA administrators, scientists, contractors and astronauts as the technical and financial hurdles of transporting humans to Mars are overcome. Although there is a large cast, one could make a credible argument that Natalie York is the main character. She is a cynical geologist who is nevertheless obsessed with Mars and becomes convinced that her only chance of reaching the planet is to become an astronaut and work for an organization she believes embodies many of the flaws of her Cold War, technocratic America.To Baxter’s credit he really did craft a plausible timeline of how NASA could reasonably put humans on Mars given the technology available between the 1960s, 70s and 80s. This is not a technological wankfest either. Baxter shows how many recognizable programs (the Space Shuttle, the Hubble Space Telescope, the Voyager space probes, etc.) had to be cut in order to create a successful Mars program or the inherent issues in untested technology like nuclear propulsion. In many ways this timeline, despite its feat in manned spaceflight, knows less about the Solar System and the rest of the universe than our timeline does. The message of Voyage stands in contrast to the common belief of many speculative fiction writers who state it was a mistake to stop at the Moon instead of trying for Mars. On top of that Baxter doesn’t spare NASA from criticism and shines light on some of the awkward moments of space exploration, such as the American government ignoring the German rocket scientists’ connections to human rights abuses when they built their V-2 rockets for Nazi Germany.Voyage does have its flaws. Despite the changes to history and the mission of NASA, events play out pretty much as you expected. The same presidents still go to the White House as planned and despite an alternate career trajectory for Ted Kennedy (RFK is oddly still assassinated) American and international politics parallel the history of our own timeline. JFK, and everyone else for that matter, shows little interest in his potential assassination. Certain historical people, including Buzz Aldrin, are also wiped out of existence and replaced with fictional characters who are better able to lead NASA toward its ultimate goal of reaching Mars. The paralleling and multiple PODs hurt the plausibility of the overall timeline, but can be forgiven if Baxter is actually trying to make the argument that the overall NASA leadership of the time was unable to mount such a mission and would need to have been replaced.Despite its flaw, Voyage is still worth a read. While Baxter does handle the engineering and logistic issues of a Mars mission well, its his portrayal of the human sacrifices necessary to achieve such a goal that you really see the brilliance of Baxter’s writings. Characters give up their dreams, loves and even their lives to achieve this one goal, even if it means there may be no future after this for any of them once this last, great feat is achieved. All the characters are complex and evolving, making Voyage an enjoyable read from start to finish (yes, I know that sounds cliche, but it is true in this instance). Fair warning, don’t look at the inserts at the front of the book unless you want one of the sub-plots spoiled for you.More importantly, I noticed some odd similarities between the style of Baxter’s Voyage and web original alternate history of the present day. Although I can’t prove it, I suspect this book was more influential on the online alternate history community than people give it credit. That at the very least is worth picking up a copy Voyage.Review originally published at

  • Landis
    2019-02-05 13:06

    Here we go again. But better.JFK survived. Yes, it's a cliché. But not this time.JFK's injuries forced early retirement in deference to LBJ. But JFK lived to see humans walk on the Moon and safely return home. He lived to witness the fulfillment of his own famed “Before This Decade Is Out”, man-on-the-moon mandate.Nixon was elected President in 1968.One of the first things on Nixon's desk: a plan submitted by NASA for a radically-altered next-step in U.S. piloted space flight. The plan would turn from humans reaching other bodies in the solar system. Instead, it would focus on near-earth-orbit (NEO). Much valuable science could be learned in a large NEO vehicle. And the crew of a large NEO vehicle could do much valuable utility: such as launching-- and, more remarkably, capturing, repairing, and re-launching-- satellites.And taxpayer money would be spared. This NEO vehicle would be a new thing under the sun (pun intended): reusable. One vehicle could fly many missions for years. The plan envisions an enormous fuselage with a snub-nose and delta wings: a hybrid space-plane. Because of its re-usability, it would be a “space shuttle”.But in this proposed-NEO wilderness, there's a lone voice crying out in protest: that of JFK, who continues to promote piloted interplanetary travel.It seems JFK's man-on-the-moon mandate was more than Cold-War geopolitics. It seems his mandate was more than showing the world, democratic republics achieve more than socialist societies (Read, “USSR”). The mandate was more than enticing the USSR to follow NASA, but veering off into national bankruptcy in the attempt. It seems JFK has a sincere romance with the idea of humans flying to and from the planets.The fame and popularity of JFK, The-President-Who-Cheated-Death-Twice (remember PT-109), endure. His visionary romance (again, to Nixon's private chagrin) is attractive.Nixon, naturally, is keen for a second term. To gain that second term, to satisfy the electorate spellbound with JFK's vision, Nixon publicly issues (while he privately grumbles) an enthusiastic call for the nation to once-again unite in support of piloted space exploration: this time, a near-term piloted mission to and from Mars.Privately, Nixon denies NASA's “shuttle”. Publicly, he supports relatively-economical expansion of the fledgling "Skylab" space-station operation in support of the Mars mission.The journey begins and spreads around and above the entire globe. At NASA headquarters, the halls echo with the lament, “How can we ever do this on-time with existing technology?” The last of the “Moonwalkers” still on duty-- perhaps candidates for the Mars crew-- are publicly respected but privately tolerated.The Moonwalkers consider the Mars dream.In the night skies over Cambodia is a U.S. Air Force pilot. His orders: sustained attacks on North Vietnamese forces, in Cambodia, operating the "Ho-Chi-Minh Trail". But his missions are illegal and secret. Yet he anticipates inevitable public disclosure. And he wonders-- at best-- how his career ever could survive that.In the Nevada desert, a bubbling young engineer experiments toward the construction of an ideal inter-planetary flight-power source: a rocket safely-powered by a nuclear reactor.His accomplished post-graduate rockhound girlfriend begins to wonder if the future is not in the stone beneath her feet, but in the sky above.In the USSR, a veteran, famed cosmonaut is detached to NASA to support (spy-upon?) the Mars effort.At a NASA operational center works a scientist who survived the brutal Nazi slave factory that produced rockets bombarding Britain late in World War II. Only he knows: he works again for the same German engineers for whom he once slaved. Further, he might have something to contribute to the Mars mission. But his involvement is unlikely because of his modest career station.Space vehicle contractors and sub-contractors-- some experienced, some surprising upstarts-- trumpet old and new, familiar and strange, concepts as they fiercely compete for the bids to build the Mars vehicles.Game-on.