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David Ebenbach

David Ebenbach has been writing ever since he was a kid, when he kept his whole family awake by banging away on an enormous manual typewriter, and he’s never wanted to stop. He is the author of several books of fiction, poetry, and non-fiction, and his work has picked up awards along the way: the Drue Heinz Literature Prize, the Juniper Prize, the Patricia Bibby Award, and more.

A Philadelphia native, these days David does most of his writing in Washington, DC, where he lives with his family ― because he uses a laptop now, he doesn’t keep them awake with his typing ― and where he works at Georgetown University, teaching creative writing and literature. Find out more at davidebenbach.com.

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How to Mars: Solid but feels like a missed opportunity

How to Mars by David Ebenbach

In David Ebenbach’s How to Mars (2021), humans have made it to Mars, but not via the usual major government initiative. Instead, a group of six was sent as a reality TV show produced by Destination Mars, a corporation whose owner is “pretty eccentric.” Sadly, Mars turned out to be kind of dull (lots of rocks, no life, monotone color) and as the six scientists grew bored so did the audience, leading to the show’s cancellation after just one year. The novel though kicks off with a revelation sure to jump start ratings: despite a prohibition on sex, one of the group (Jenny) is pregnant. It’s a great premise, rich with potential for tension, drama, and an exploration of what it means to be human, especially with the added complication of Martian life, but unfortunately the novel doesn’t fully mine that potential, leaving it less than the sum of its parts.
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