Sarah Stewart Johnson 2020. The Sirens of Mars. Searching for life on another world. New York: Allen Lane, 266 pp.

A good instance of the best way to be interesting, informative and memorable: tell a story. Or even better two, one being the history of our understanding and exploration of Mars; the second, side-by-side, formative episodes in author’s own life, emphasizing she is one of the few women to have made it in the male-dominated field of planetary science.

I didn’t realise the very naive speculations about Mars’ “canals” (illusions of linearity due to imperfect observations) is not the only such crazy speculation. Carl Sagan, as recently as 1974, speculated that large life-forms, perhaps turtle-like creatures, may have been favoured on Mars. And he didn’t even have an illusory observation in support.

A great narrative of the recent probes to Mars, their technical and scientific achievements and Sarah Johnson’s role in them.