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My writing sub-career got underway with a 1970 invitation a publisher to do a textbook in planetary science. I believe it is very important to assemble a "big-picture" view of our human relationship to the universe. In our culture, there are many pressures (especially on scientists) to become more and focussed on narrow details of one's job or research. For this reason I find it pleasant, as well as important, to "pull back" and write about larger issues.

These ideas led to a series of textbooks and also a series of popular illustrated books, and finally to my recent foray into fiction. Generally, I feel that the novel allows the widest range of expression about human concerns. I think of novels as voyages of exploration as well as entertainment.


The textbooks are available through Wadsworth Publishing at (415) 595-2350 in Belmont Ca. The other popular non-fiction and fiction can be found in larger bookstores, or can be ordered from ANY bookstore. Also, I can supply autographed copies of many of these books. Contact me at hartman [at] ( ) .


Moons and Planets . A general text in planetary science at the junior/senior level or for graduate students wanting an overview of the field. Includes math examples at level of simple calculus. Hardcover. 4th edition due in late 1998.

Astronomy: The Cosmic Journey . General introductory text with math at the level of algebra. Hardcover.

The Cosmic Voyage . Descriptive version of the previous book, in paperback.


These have been published in the U.S. and in several have been published in translations in Japan, France, Sweden, and elsewhere.

Searching for Golden Empires describes how, even after the conquest of Mexico, Cortés remained a “wildcat” competitor with Coronado in a race to see who could find the “next golden empire,” believed to lie in the north. It is an exciting history of the shared story of the United States and Mexico, unveiling episodes both tragic and uplifting.

Traveler's Guide to Mars A Traveler's Guide to Mars (2003, New York: Workman Publishing) (Paperback only, $18.95; about 200 pictures in BW and color).

This is a breezy but detailed overview of modern Martian research in the form of a Traveler's Guide. I picked about 3 dozen of my favorite places on Mars and the challenge as a writer was to arrange them so that they could tell a story of the chronology of Mars. The first of the 40 very short chapters are a historical overview, and then we start with old areas of Mars and work toward younger features, with interludes on landing sites and Martian meteorites, and "My Martian Chronicles" sidebars giving anecdotes of my work on Mars with international scientists. There is a preface by Misha Marov, of the Russian Academy of Sciences.

The book has been well received, sold out its first 30,000 copies and went into a second printing within two months.

Reviews for A Traveler's Guide to Mars :

  • Kim Stanley Robinson, novelist
    "A Masterpiece of scientific writing for the general reader..."
  • Ray Bradbury, novelist
    "Superb! ...the story of the "new" Mars and how it got to be that way."
  • Publishers Weekly starred review, May 12, 2003
    "melds enjoyable prose with breathtaking pictures in a cleverly conceived 'scientific Baedecker' that is likely to delight expert and lay readers alike [and] can be easily browsed with great pleasure."
  • Scientific American featured review, August 2003
    "...the reward is an almost participatory experience, giving an intimacy with the planet and the way a planetary scientist thinks."
  • Discover, featured review, August 2003
    "...exhaustive summary of everything we now know about a world that has long haunted the dreams of writers and scientists alike. evocative portrait of a planet...."

Note: I am using this book as an experiment in fund-raising for our organization, and as stated in the book, I'm donating 25% of the royalties to the Planetary Science Institute! Buy the Traveler's Guide and support PSI's work and our purchase of a new building to give a permanent home to our non-profit research efforts.

The Grand Tour: A Travelers Guide to the Solar System . (1981, 1993, New York: Wadsworth Publishing Co.) Includes about a hundred color paintings by Ron Miller and me. Hard and soft cover.

Out of the Cradle (1984, New York: Wadsworth Publishing Co.) Human exploration of space in the coming century. Includes about a hundred color paintings by Ron Miller, Pamela Lee, and me.

Cycles of Fire . (1987, New York: Wadsworth Publishing Co.) Stars, galaxies, and the cosmos beyond the solar system. Includes about hundred color paintings by Ron Miller, Pamela Lee, Tom Miller, and me.

In the Stream of Stars . (New York: Wadsworth Publishing Co.) An international collection of space art based on a joint program of meetings between Western and Soviet artists, drawing from an exhibit mounted in Moscow and at the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum. About a hundred color paintings in many styles with chapters by different artists in Russia and US, including Apollo astronaut Alan Bean and the first man to "walk" in space, Alexie Leonov.

The History of Earth (1991, New York: Wadsworth Publishing Co.) An overview of the story of our planet and its moon, with about a hundred paintings by Ron Miller and me.

Desert Heart (1989, Tucson: Fischer Books) A history and natural history of the Sonoran Desert, focusing on the extraordinary Pinacate volcanic region straddling the Arizona/Sonora border, and its ancient trails. Includes many color and BW photos by me over 25 years of exploration.

The American Desert (1991, New York: Crown Books) Overview of western desert systems with photos by a circle of Tucson colleagues.


Cities of Gold Cities of Gold (2002, New York: Forge Books)

This novel has a noir-ish story set in 1989 Tucson, Arizona, and a parallel story set exactly 450 years earlier about the real Spanish personalties who made the first European incursions across the same landscape. The modern story concerns a protagonist, Kevin Scott, who is working for a developer building "Coronado Estates" east of Tucson. He is hired to develop evidence that Coronado came near that area, to legitimize the title. He studies the writings of the priest, Marcos de Niza, who was sent north to find the Seven Cities of Cibola in 1539 -- and went down in the history books as a fraud who lied about his journey. Eventually, Kevin find himself involved in a murder....

The Spanish chapters are all based on real characters whose letters and reports are directly quoted in the text, so that the reader not only gets their third-person story, but gets to hear them in their own voices, explaining their motivations and what they saw. (See our web site on the Coronado expedition ).

The themes are about whether history and sense of place are important, and about the age old American dream to get rich quick off the land, and the our conquistador mentality of economics.

I've been encouraged by some quotes and reviews received, listed below.

  • Stewart Udall, Secretary of the Interior to President John F. Kennedy.
    "An important novel about American heritage, part history and part mystery. Bill Hartmann tells a splendid tale of the first European expeditions into the American Southwest, and links it to a modern adventure. He explores the uses of history in our often surreal world, and dramatizes the inherent conflict between sense of place and the age-old American drive to get rich quick."
  • High Country News (Dec 23, 2002), review by SW writer Craig Childs:
    "To understand the formation of the modern West -- the formation, in fact, of history -- read this book. It does what few books can do, giving the past a vividness, a presence, bringing it truly to life."
  • Tucson Weekly, December, 2002
    "Challenges the status quo in Southwest politics."
  • Richard Flint, Lead editor of The Coronado Expedition to Tierra Nueva: The 1540-1542 Route across the Southwest .
    "...a well-rounded treatment of the mystery of Marcos de Niza. The book weaves together two stories, one modern and one 450 years old, playing them against each other in a way that gives more depth and life to both."
Mars Underground Mars Underground (1997, New York: TOR Books)

It was interesting and a challenge to work in the genre of fiction. I tried to create a story that talked about themes of scientific openness vs. government secrecy, as well as about Mars itself. Releasing a first novel is scary, but I was pleased at most of the reviews and some quotes from authors I admire. Examples:

  • Christopher J. Koch (Author of The Year of Living Dangerously ) (Australia)
    "Like H.G. Wells, Hartmann brings a scientific training to his fiction, and a serious concern with ideas. His portrayal of a colony on Mars is...convincing and real...."
  • Arthur C. Clarke
    "...conveys...a realistic feeling about the future development of Mars. ...personally gratifying, as it seems like an extension of my own two books on the subject."
  • Stephen Vizenczey (author of In Praise of Older Women ) (London)
    "...a brilliant metaphor for [our] isolated existence.... Hartmann may have put into the novel all that is known about Mars, and it is fascinating, but the novel lives because his Mars evokes life on Earth. His descriptions of the desert rival Saint Exupery's."
  • Tony Hillerman
    "If you doubted science fiction and mystery would make a good mix, William Hartmann proves you wrong in Mars Underground."

  • Booklist
    "Hartmann is an excellent story teller, and his well-developed characters...contribute to a rich and satisfying adventure. fans of both science fiction and mysteries, and anyone caught up in the current interest in Mars."
  • Publisher's Weekly
    "Hartmann's descriptions of Mars are probably more accurate than those of Kim Stanley Robinson (Green Mars) and Greg Bear (Moving Mars).... [His] main characters are nicely developed...."

  • Science Fiction Chronicle
    "Hartmann does an excellent job of capturing a realistic Mars without leaching all the romance out of his setting. An outstanding addition to the growing number of recent novels about the red planet."

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