The Hades Factor - Robert Ludlum & Gayle Lynds

***** A contagious . . . action thriller

The plot of this novel is well-designed and is focused on a very charismatic and credible male character, Jonathan Smith. Jon, as his friends call him, is a doctor, but also a soldier. He is an intelligent man and full of resources, but not the classic perfect action man. He has faults, makes mistakes, but in the end he is also a bit lucky (as it always happens in novels).
Even if this book wasn’t written only by Ludlum, who would be dead the year after its publication, his touch is evident. In fact, despite being a very long book, it reads just as quickly, almost creating dependency, and has the right balance between action and introspection of the characters.
The theme, that of a pandemic caused voluntarily to obtain a financial return, makes you think. The scenario, although extreme, is however realistic and, precisely for this reason, gives the chills.
The scientific part, although it is not overly developed (for the benefit of the reader, who should not put up with any info-dump), is credible.
Among the characters I particularly liked Marty, a nerd with Asperger’s Syndrome. It was interesting to follow the fluctuation of his thoughts as the levels of the drugs changed in his body.
On the other hand, this novel is not without downsides, starting with an excessive head hopping. It is not functional to the story, so it seems almost causal and sometimes it makes you lose empathy with the characters.
The ending opens to a series of books that can be read separately with limited or no real subplot, which unfortunately sounds like a commercial operation. For this reason I do not think I’ll read more books in this series, because the next two, to which Ludlum participated (I cannot say to what extent) are posthumous, while all others are completely written by other authors.
Despite the downsides, I really enjoyed reading this book, so I still decided to give it full marks.

The Hades Factor on Amazon.

Hell House - Richard Matheson

**** Ghosts do not exist, do they?

I never know what to expect with Matheson. It moves freely between fantasy, paranormal and speculation fiction, always proposing stories outside the box. This, compared to other books I’ve read, is different because of the lack of a real main character around which the whole story revolves. It is in fact a choral novel that fully falls within the canons of horror, where one by one the characters that seem to have a primary role die, leaving only one or two at the end. In addition, there is the paranormal element that returns frequently in his works and here is yet addressed once in an original way.
Overall it is a novel that seems almost contemporary, since it is not afraid to put together violent, thorny and blasphemous elements, despite forty years passed since it was written.
The plot is compelling, especially in some passages. The subdivision of the scenes through the timestamp, therefore without chapters, encourages reading and increases the anxiogenic effect.

Unfortunately I read an Italian edition with a very old translation, although it does not affect much the perception of contemporaneity of the work, once you get used to the language, but it obviously cancels the illusion. Added to this is a classic horror ending that is quite predictable and leaves a bitter taste in the mouth.

Hell House on Amazon.

The Black Ice - Michael Connelly

***** The corrupt cop

Another nice complex story for the second book in the Bosch series.
Although you find the same messed-up character of the first one, it is not a separated episode, because only after the reading of the first book you can completely understand this one.
Bosch is back from the vacation taken after the first case and now the Christmas season is approaching, which causes him further depression. The whole story takes place in a few exciting days. There is also a brief mention, without the name, to a character of the previous book, which, apparently, will return in one of the next ones.
This time the topic is drug trafficking across the border with Mexico and its links with the police. The atmosphere reminded me of the film “Sicario”. Connelly puts all the elements before your eyes, but you are distracted by so many and such details (beautiful descriptions and reflections on Los Angeles, as well as those on the two border cities: you have the impression to be there) that you realise what’s obvious only at the end, when he slams it on your face.
Of course there’s the usual romantic break, although as usual it implies a certain melancholy and despair.
I liked the resolution of the story in which the protagonist chooses not to follow the rules and the open ending on Bosch’s life.

I can’t wait to read the next one.

The Black Ice on Amazon.

Hitman: Agent 47: choreographed shootings and assassins without emotions

Since it is a film based on a video game my expectations were not very high. I decided to watch it, because action movies with high rate of murder victims are fun and this, in particular, shows the confrontation between two interesting actors: Rupert Friend, whom I already appreciated in “Homeland”, and Zachary Quinto, who since July 2016 has established himself on a permanent basis as wallpaper of my computer in the role of Spock.

Friend is already accustomed to the role of a killer. In “Homeland”, he was a CIA operative who more than once had been sent to kill some strategic target. His glacial expression, which in “Hitman: Agent 47” is accentuated by his shaved hair and impeccable clothing, gives him the appearance of a programmed, emotionless killer. It is certainly not in this role that you can better appreciate his acting skills, but he is absolutely perfect as agent 47.

Quinto, who finds himself playing the role of John Smith, the antagonist, as the movie itself does not require special acting skills, shows how good he is anyway. His character changes its attitude during the film and Quinto manages to underline this change, giving us the impression that we are facing a new character. He really needs a little effort. His expressiveness is such that a minimal alteration in his facial lines and look give him a completely different image to the viewer.

The clashes between the two are spectacular, often performed with their bare hands, so much that you almost feel pain in their place for the way they are beaten or for their flights. Obviously they come out with just a few scratches. Not to mention the perfectly choreographed shootings. In both cases I found myself repeatedly laughing alone for how entertaining they were.

The film also includes a third main character, Katia van Dees, played by Hannah Ware, but I must admit that (maybe because I am a woman) I barely noticed her presence!

It is clear that we are not talking about a film that expects to appear remotely plausible. It is the transposition of a video game and therefore it is definitely above the lines, but it is also characterised by excellent special effects that confer a considerable realism to the dynamics of the scenes, even the most gory ones, without causing, however, any special form of horror or disgust, just as it does in video games since it remains clear in the mind of the viewer that it’s fiction.

Hitman: Agent 47“ is the second film in the “Hitman” series. The first, “Hitman“ was released in 2007. But it might not be the last. A clue in this respect is given by the small scene embedded within the end credits, but I don’t tell you more to avoid any spoilers.

Up For Love: a clever romantic comedy

Like many of you, I got to know for the first time Jean Dujardin thanks to his interpretation of George Valentin in “The Artist”, which earned him the Academy Award for Best Lead Actor in 2012. Then I saw him again years later in a dramatic role in “French Connection”, another film that I enjoyed very much.
In “Up For Love”, thanks to special effects, Dujardin is actually playing the role of a person with dwarfism in a hilarious comedy that also leads you to think.

His skills as an actor are once again undisputed and emerge even more in the roles in which he cannot take advantage of one of his qualities. In “The Artist” it was his voice and in this film it’s his handsomeness. Yes, because Dujardin is undoubtedly a handsome man and manages to keep intact his charm also in the role of Alexandre, who is barely one metre thirty-six centimetres tall.

I must say that the special effects, while lowering him, have not rendered faithfully the altered proportions caused by dwarfism, but applying a certain suspension of disbelief, he is convincing enough, especially in shots where you don’t see his body in full.

Beyond these technical aspects, “Up For Love” is a really nice movie.

Well, the protagonists are anything but poor devils. Alexandre is a famous architect living in a villa with a swimming pool along with his ambitious son, who for the moment is economically dependent on him (but he is bound to succeed). Diane (played by the Belgian actress Virginie Efira) is a lawyer who owns a law firm together with her former husband.
The whole context in which they move is very movie-like: parties, gallery openings, parachuting (which seems almost a no-brainer that anyone could practice), houses that seem royal palaces, secret venues, and so on.

The distribution and timing of the gags are absolutely perfect, so that the film slips away fast between a laugh and the other.
Alexandre could be the classic Prince Charming; he is charming, funny, successful, but he lacks at least forty centimetres to achieve perfection, forty centimetres that weigh a lot.
Despite some quite deliberately unrealistic elements of the plot, it is easy to step into the shoes of Diane, who, although being in love with Alexandre, suffers the judgment of others.
It can be easy to say that love overcomes all obstacles, but in reality standing alongside someone who is different creates many problems. Ignoring them and pretending they don’t matter doesn’t make them disappear, but what this little cinema gem tries to convey is that you need to be aware and find ways to deal with them day-to-day, as it should always happen between two people who decide to share their lives.
Of course, if you are rich as the main characters of “Up For Love”, it is undoubtedly easier!

In other words this is a film that combines a non-trivial reflection and comic situations, beautifully rendered by the skill of the cast (not only of the two lead actors).
After watching it you feel refreshed and in good spirits, but you haven’t completely turned off your brain for a hundred minutes.

Jason Bourne: smart, determined, indestructible

If I had to rely on the films focused on this character, of which I recently have also watched the first three again, I would come to the conclusion that Jason Bourne doesn’t sleep (and if he tries, he is haunted by nightmares), doesn’t eat, tours half the world mostly by train and this doesn’t seem to tire him the least, isn’t afraid of anything, doesn’t care about anyone (except Marie, that is precisely why she was eliminated in the second film), the rare occasions when he is wounded he becomes stronger, and he doesn’t even need to carry a weapon: when the time comes and he is faced with no less than three well-trained agents, he knock them out within seconds, barehanded, and takes one of their guns.
In short, he is indestructible.

Yes, of course, he had that nasty amnesia and his memories resurface conveniently little by little, so as to put together the plot of another film. But the more he remembers, the less the man he was before emerges: the elusive David Webb.

What I notice as we go on with the films is the disappearance of any empathy in the character, which gradually dehumanises himself as he moves faster and faster from one to another breathtaking action scene.
In “The Bourne Identity” I wondered who he was, just like he did; I felt concern for him and the woman who had decided to trust him and help him. Only some years later, when I read the book by Robert Ludlum, to which it was inspired, I learned this is the only film in the series to have some connection with the novels. And you see it, since Bourne in the first film is a character with a certain depth. Although he instinctively behaves like a war machine, he is full of doubts and fears, like his literary alter ego. The plot is a bit different, because the context in which it takes place is far ahead in time and this required some adaptation. Furthermore, the film medium imposes a certain reduction and simplification of the novel, which, instead, is extremely intricate.

But, since the moment it detaches from the work of Ludlum (which, I must admit, inspired my action thriller “Kindred Intentions”), the one which suffer most from the consequences is precisely Bourne’s character. What characterises this work disappears: this character being a bit crazy, his wavering between the normal personality of Webb and the one thirsty for revenge of Bourne, his being fallible.
In fact, Bourne in films rarely makes a mistake. He is always a step ahead of others. And this characteristic is accentuated by the deletion of any bonds with other people, starting from Marie (played by the talented Franka Potente), even if what moves him is, in theory at least, a desire for revenge as well as survival, combined with the absence of any fear of death.

In this context, the same plots are repeated. Someone wants to kill him, usually someone from the CIA, whether this is an official and approved decision or not. They unleash against him the most ruthless assets (how much I like this term for a hired assassin!). So bad. They kill anyone who stands in their way, but never once they manage to get rid of Bourne.
On the other hand, when he flees in a car or motorcycle with someone, this someone ends up getting the bullet meant for him.
And you don’t know how that has bothered me when I understood that it would happen again in this last film. I was watching the long chase in Athens and I remembered that one in India at the beginning of “The Bourne Supremacy”. It was predictable that it would end like this. And in both cases I was sorry, as two characters (the only ones) with whom he had a bond that gave continuity to the plot were eliminated.

Jason Bourne” is a repetition of all these elements, held together by a secret to be discovered regarding the protagonist’s father, which is the only new element. The rest is action, action, and more action.
Not that I’m complaining. I love action.
During the film I felt glued to my seat to follow the swirling succession of events and continuous cutting away of the camera, accompanied by the certainty that Bourne would always prevail. The fun part was to find out how he would succeed, what they would invent for him to overcome all obstacles, what other famous city he would put on fire and how he still would outwit the others.

And then there are the car chases. It doesn’t matter if his opponent drives a Humvee, blasting the other vehicles as if they were bowling pins, and Bourne has a normal car. The latter will be bruised, but will always be fast, indeed, even faster than before. He, who can do everything, will drive without stopping, dodging the cars that come his way, because he certainly cannot help but enter a trafficked road against the flow. It doesn’t matter if Bourne is injured and not fastening his seat belt. When the car overturns and he comes out limping, he will still be able to fight barehanded with his opponent. He will risk succumbing, but eventually a last-gasp effort will save him.

Let’s not forget his cunning and audacity. Bourne watches from a distance (but not too far) that one CIA character that basically doesn’t consider him a threat, and he anticipates their moves. It had already happened with the one played by Joan Allen in “The Bourne Supremacy” and “The Bourne Ultimatum”, and now it’s time for Alicia Vikander, whom, although being a good actress and despite I have much appreciated her in other films, I just cannot like in this film because of her selfishness. But do not worry: Bourne has understood her well. He will prove it in the end.

In short, this film has all it takes to please me, but I liked it less than the first and the third one, and I don’t know if more or less then the second one. Maybe it depends on the progressive chillness shown by the protagonist. Or perhaps simply because I didn’t accept how Nicky Parsons, played by Julia Stiles, who is one of my favourite actresses, is treated. Lately she is increasingly relegated to secondary roles in films and I was hoping that after “The Bourne Ultimatum”, where she was one of the main characters, the latter would be repeated in “Jason Bourne”.

Well, I will suck it up. And, if there is a sequel (the open ending would suggest so), I’ll have to see that too. After all, I cannot miss a movie with Matt Damon.

A Quantum Murder - Peter F. Hamilton

**** Who killed Edward Kitchener?

The second book in the Greg Mandel Trilogy is in some ways a proper mystery. All the elements are there: one dead, a secluded place, a small number of possible culprits, many of which would have a good reason to kill him, and apparently no one of them did it. To figure out who the murderer is, you must choose the least likely, but can in no way imagine what lies beneath. The sci-fi element is what makes the magic, leaving you speechless.
As always in Hamilton’s books the characters are believable and tridimensional, and even likeable. His elegant prose involves you, transporting you inside their mind and showing the reality through their eyes.
The novel, however, does not stand comparison with the first. Once the surprise after discovering and understanding Mandel’s abilities, given to him by his gland, is over, the author had to create a new story unrelated to the previous one, so that the novel could be a standalone. This is made possible by the numerous recaps on past events and the historical and political situation, which on the one hand slow down the book and the other bore the reader who had already endured all those explanations in “Mindstar Rising”. I understand the need to put them, but not to make them so long.
Even if the intricate case treated in this novel is completely new, I found too many similar elements to the previous book that caused me a sense of déjà-vu. There are too many descriptions. In the first book they were essential, because the reader was experiencing a new world. In the second they become annoying. In general, with the exception of the last part, which has an excellent pace, the book shows a very slow action (relatively few things happen for a book of 376 pages written in small print) and at the same time is not always able to keep the reader interested with new and original elements.
However, the last chapter is very nice and improved my judgment on the book.

A Quantum Murder on Amazon.

Crime scene investigators, forensic scientists, medical examiners, and police officers

We know that fiction alters many of the aspects relating to the analysis of physical evidence during an investigation. First of all it enhances the importance of this analysis, when in reality most of the times the physical evidence points to very few conclusive results for the identification of the culprit.

Second, timings do not match the real ones. Downtime is not fun, so in fiction everything happens very quickly, just a few minutes or seconds to find a match, so the culprit is identified in a day (in TV series), or in a few days (in films and novels).

Even the technology is far from the real one. Apart from the representation of science fiction equipment, that is to say that they don’t exist (yet), forensic science laboratories are always described as extremely modern and that they can rely on the latest technologies on the market, moreover they have a large staff and much time to devote to cases, without any backlog.
In reality funding for these labs are never so abundant, the staff is not enough to keep up with the crimes and then the backlog is the norm, becoming one of the main reasons why the resolution of cases can take months or years, if they are ever solved.
In addition, some laboratories may even be absent in the territory where the crime took place, therefore the exhibits may be sent elsewhere, making the process even slower. For example, in May 2016 I had the opportunity to visit one of the headquarters of Polizia di Stato (Italian police) in my city, Cagliari (the capital of Sardinia), where I was also briefly explained the role of the Polizia Scientifica (police forensics department; not to be confused with RIS, the Department of Forensics Investigations, which is part of Carabinieri and does a similar job). And I discovered that there is no biological laboratory in Cagliari, so any DNA analysis is made in Rome. Finding a source of DNA in the physical evidence is quite rare and, fortunately, violent crimes are anything but common here, so if you think about it all that has a certain logic, but considering the geographical problem (I live in an island) and the amount of work that certainly already exists in the laboratories in Rome, this isn’t an ideal situation.
This in itself would represent enough a motivation to keep me from set one of my books in my city (besides the fact that there had never been serial killers here, in the modern sense of the term).

Finally you must consider the evaluation that this work will get in court. We know that the CSI effect may give the impression that the cases are solved and the culprits are convicted if there is sufficient physical evidence, but in fact in most situations other types of evidence determine the outcome of a trial.

But there is another aspect that is represented in a distorted way in fiction and that deals with forensic science: the various roles of the people involved in investigations.
In fiction we see the same people collecting evidence on a crime scene, analysing it in the laboratory, identifying suspects, interrogating them, the witnesses and victims (if the latter aren’t dead!), and even carrying out the arrests.

The reality is often different. There are the so-called crime scene investigators, who collect evidence at the scene. Then there are the forensic scientists who analyse them and possibly a medical examiner, in the case of a murder. Instead, the identification of the suspects, interrogations, and arrests are carried out by police officers and detectives. Forensic experts and medical examiners, then, may come into play in the courtroom to explain the results of their analysis on physical evidence.

This compartmentalisation, as well as having an organisational purpose (each one specialises in one aspect, thus providing better performance), is important to keep a certain objectivity during an investigation. In certain geographical areas the separation between the various roles is less clear, but is total in others. Sometimes, as it often happens in the UK, crime scene investigators and/or forensic experts may not be police officers.
At the same time, however, all these people interact with each other; they shall consult, because if this didn’t happen there would be a reduction in efficiency. In short, they try to find the right balance that yields the best result. Then this, contrary to what is observed in fiction, may come, or worse, be wrong, because these are always people who can make mistakes.

Therefore there is a specific terminology that in fiction isn’t used or is simplified, because the real one tends to change with the country or simply is too long or abstruse to be used in fiction.

A classic example is offered by the terms anatomopathologist, medical examiner, and coroner. They are three different things that often coincide in fiction and can even do it in reality, but it isn’t always so. The anatomopathologist is a specialist that identifies and analyses tissue and organ alterations due to illness. Typically they work on the living, not the dead. However, they may be involved in an investigation or become a coroner, for their specialisation is particularly suitable for determining the cause of death or other injuries in the body of a victim.
The medical examiner is, in short, the person in charge of the autopsies. They should not necessarily be specialized in anatomical pathology. It is a kind of career where doctors who have specialised in something else can converge. This reminds me an example in fiction: “Body of Proof”, where the protagonist is a neurosurgeon who because of an accident can no longer exercise and then she starts working as a medical examiner.
Finally, the coroner is a typically Anglo-Saxon role, although our background of American and British fiction may lead us to think that it exists everywhere. It is a legal officer who in the event of suspicious deaths has the task of establishing the circumstances of death and the identity of the victim. The coroner may be a lawyer or a doctor, so sometimes he/she is a medical examiner, but often he/she is not. This also depends on the laws of each country or even, in the case of federal countries (like the United States of America), each state/region.

And then there’s the distinction between criminologist and criminalist. The two terms have different meanings in different countries.
In English, the criminologist is often defined as an expert in forensic science, so it can be a crime scene investigator and/or a forensic technician. The term “criminalist” can be understood either as expert in forensic science and as a synonym for criminal defence lawyer and criminal psychologist or psychiatrist. The choice of either term varies according to the different language variant (American, British, Canadian, Australian, New Zealand, etc ...) and common usage. Between the two, the term “criminologist” often prevails, because it is the one used in fiction. The British often avoid the term “criminologist”, which is more American, and use the specific ones, i.e. “crime scene investigator” and “forensic technician” or “forensic scientist”.

What about Italy? Here the use is different. The person who analyses the physical evidence is always defined criminalist (criminalista in Italian).
The criminologist (criminologo in Italian), instead, is an expert in criminology, i.e. the science that studies crimes, perpetrators, victims, types of criminal behaviour, prevention of crimes and reintegration of offenders into society, after serving their sentences. In short, it is an interdisciplinary field that combines expertise in criminal law, psychology, biology, sociology, and many other disciplines, and that focuses on the “who”, not on “where” or “how”, so the criminologist doesn’t participate in the investigation or trials.

Who, like me, writes novels that deal with forensic science has to consider the target readers, of which I myself belong, both concerning the terminological knowledge and from a geographical point of view. To avoid confusion in the reader, in the books of the Detective Eric Shaw Trilogy I tried to use simple terms, which are understandable and commonly used. For this reason I mention a “medical examiner” and not any specialisation of Dr. Dawson or his assistant, Dr.  Collins (who appears in “Syndrome” for the first time). I use the term “coroner” only once in a scene from “The Mentor” to indicate the presence of this figure or its representative at a crime scene including a corpse. Actually I mention the coroner’s van, without specifying who the coroner is.

Moreover, since I had to indicate the role of the characters who work for Scotland Yard forensic department (Metropolitan Police Forensic Science Service) with a single term and widely used in fiction, I chose the generic “criminologist” (if the story were set in Italy, it would be wrong ) instead of “crime scene investigator” or “forensic scientist”, which sound too technical or just bulky in a novel to indicate the person who is speaking, although they are the more correct in a British context.

Finally, to do honour to the habit of TV series, movies, and other novels by using the characters at all stages of the investigation, my criminologists go to the crime scene, do the analysis in the laboratory, but they all are also police officers (which is not always true in the UK), not only the detective chief inspector who heads the team (Eric Shaw), therefore they interrogate people, participate in the chases and arrest the criminals, and unlike the majority of real British police officers they usually have a gun.

The Listener: the paramedic who reads your mind

The broadcast on Fox Italy (my country) of this Canadian series was preceded by a lot of advertisement that pointed to the fact that it was a world premiere. Actually “The Listener” was broadcast in Italy and other countries a few days after its Canadian premiere (3 March 2009), but a few months before its premiere in the United States.

I don’t know why, because I’m not generally crazy about the series that have to do with paranormal stuff, but I still found myself watching it from the first episode to the last one in 2014.
The series had as its protagonist a paramedic, Toby Logan (played by Craig Olejnik) with telepathic abilities. Toby could read what was in other people’s minds, whether it was sound, images or words, and because of this talent he found himself involved in solving murder cases.

The first season showed him interacting with a detective, Charlie Marks (played by Lisa Marcos; the first on the left in the last picture), but this was done in an almost fortuitous way, since Toby during his ambulance service was often to intervene where a crime had occurred and read the minds of the victims, before they died, or others involved. Parallel to each case there was a subplot on Toby’s past and the origin of this ability.

I must say that the series was not extraordinary, but I watched it with pleasure, thanks to the setting in Toronto, certainly less famous than others, and the presence of a good cast of little-known actors. Being a Canadian series made it distinctly different from US ones in the way some topics were treated, presenting less clichés and more original elements. The dramatic aspect was then diluted by the presence of an ironic character: Osman Bey (played by Ennis Esmer), called Oz, who was Toby’s colleague in the ambulance. The subplot, finally, was intriguing and pushed to watch the next episode.

After the first season, the series underwent a revolution, because the scriptwriters were replaced and its creator, Michael Amo, stopped working on it.
Instead of finding himself by chance involved in the crimes, Toby was called by an IIB sergeant (from a special investigative unit), Michelle McClunsky (played by Lauren Lee Smith, whom I had already seen in the ninth season of “CSI” and later played an important role in the science fiction miniseries “Ascension”), so that starting from the third season he stopped being a paramedic and began working in the team as consultant. Only a few (though their number was increasing) knew about his ability and officially he was considered an expert of facial micro expressions able to tell if a person were sincere or not.

Because of that the subplot completely disappeared giving way to an episodic trend that made the series become almost procedural. “The Listener” lost its originality, but acquired rhythm and action. The intention was probably to attract a wider audience and seemed to work, since it went on until its conclusion programmed with the fifth season.
In the US, the series didn’t do particularly well, while in Italy was actually the second most watched series on Fox.

The Sands of Mars - Arthur C. Clarke

*** Hard science fiction from the past

I know I find myself in front of a science fiction classic written in the 50s of the past century, but I’m obviously forced to judge it according to my tastes as a reader from these times.
This is an early example of hard science fiction, that is, a science fiction that seeks to be based on real science, but being a novel from 1951, most of its science is outdated. Therefore you must take it as it is.
The story sounds cold and linear, even though there are passages that theoretically should excite, both with regard to the private scope of the protagonist and the adventurous events and discoveries that he has witnessed. This causes the novel to appear as a report that doesn’t make you feel involved as you read.
The simultaneous presence of these two aspects unfortunately prevented me from enjoying the book.
I have read other classics that show a totally different Mars from what it turned out to be, but the way they were written still made it enjoyable, as they allowed me to feel along with the protagonist, suffer with them. It created a strong reader-protagonist bond that surpassed all scientific nonsense and anachronistic aspects of the story.
I wasn’t able to create such bond in this book. I just found it boring and I’m afraid that it hasn’t left me anything at the end of the reading.
I know that this is a risk you take by reading classic novels, since some of them are the mirror of a type of fiction that is very different from the contemporary one and therefore not everybody likes it today. I certainly don’t.
Anyway I enjoyed some suggestive ideas generated by the imaginative setting.

The Sands of Mars on Amazon.