For centuries, the red planet has enticed the people of Earth. Now an international group of scientists has colonized Mars. Leaving Earth forever, these 100 people have traveled nine months to reach their new home. This is the remarkable story of the world they create - and the hidden power struggles of those who want to control it.
Although it is fiction, Red Mars is based on years of research. As living spaces and greenhouses multiply, an astonishing panorama of our galactic future rises from the red dust. Through Richard Ferrone's narration, each scene is energized with the designs and dreams of the extraordinary pioneers.
©1993 Kim Stanley Robinson; (P)2000 Recorded Books
"Generously blending hard science with canny insight into human strengths and weaknesses, this suspenseful sf saga should appeal to a wide range of readers." (Library Journal)
"The ultimate in future history." (Daily Mail)
I can see why the book won awards. The thought that went into this work is VERY good. It kept me listening to the end but it was just so that I could get to the end. It is a detailed look at what colonization would truly be like with all the good and bad points. If you want an action book this is probably NOT for you.
Kim Stanley Robinson's Mars trilogy is well-regarded by SF fans, but it didn't really live up to the hype for me, though it's an excellent entry in the hard SF genre. Robinson's prose is not as lyrical as Ray Bradbury's, but it's not as dry as Ben Bova's either. Red Mars seems to synthesize elements from all of Robinson's predecessors — it's a Heinleinesque adventure at times, with hard SF infodumps, but actual characters, and shout-outs to every author who's ever touched Mars, including Burroughs.
Red Mars is the tale of the first Martian colony, and covers a couple of generations of history. The "First Hundred" who established the original settlement become larger-than-life, almost mythical figures to those who follow after them, but as Mars begins to be taken over by political and economic factions bringing old issues of exploitation and oppression (followed by resistance and terrorism) from Earth, the Hundred are just as conflicted and prone to squabbling and working at cross-purposes as all the other settlers.
Early on, there is a huge debate over terraforming Mars, eventually becoming a conflict between the "Reds" and the "Greens." Eventually other cultures arrive on Mars and have their own ideas of what it means to be a Martian settler. Muslims make up a substantial segment of the population, as do Russians and other nationalities, all wanting to have an equal stake in Martian society.
The ending shows the surviving members of the Hundred witnessing what happens after decades of emigration and development on Mars, with much of what has been built up brought down by an uprising among the children of Mars.
If you are a space exploration geek, and especially if you are one of those who still dreams of a Mars expedition in our lifetime, then Red Mars may fire you up with a realistic view of what emigration to Mars might actually look like. It is almost certainly not an accurate picture of what will actually happen, should we ever get that far, but it's a realistic picture of what could happen.
I give this book 4 stars for being one of the best Mars books out there, but not 5 stars, because the story and the characters just did not grab me enough to wonder, "What happens next?"
Science, yes, but also relationships, pathos and politics interact to make this a pretty fun listen. I like these long intertwined stories of science, world building, yet not necessarily space opera-y. Not so far in the future that you can;t imagine it ...kinda...
But you have to be interested in the science to enjoy this, it is an integral part of the story.
I've read these books twice and was thrilled to see them come out as audio books. They are a committment, not a quick sci-fi fix, but they are truly amazing in the scope, detail, character development and realistic approach the author takes in developing a society on Mars. I can say this is my favorite sci-fi series of all time - and I have read many. There are a lot of characters and I must admit I'm sure it helps I've read the books in print, but if you're used to really listening to complex books these will definitely be worth your time. The narrator is fine, steady and unobtrusive in his reading. I highly recommend this series if a major work of amazing sci-fi is what you are looking for.
This is a strange book. The writing is very competent. The aim seems to be to give a hyper-realistic account of what the colonization of Mars might be like, and some of the descriptive passages are startlingly evocative despite the audio narrator's relentless efforts to conceal the meaning of the sentences. The passages about science and technology are interesting even though most of them fail to advance the plot an inch. The plot is for all practical purposes nonexistent. There is a determined effort to shape realistic characters, but overall they are little different from soap opera people. There are long summary passages that sound like back story from notebooks. The characters argue and fight about things that might be important, but in their mouths sound trivial. Most action scenes come off as eighth-grade bullies' scuffles. Despite the intent to realism, I found it hard to believe that the first shipload of Martian colonists would be debating whether to completely throw out the colonization plans made on Earth (which by that time would have been decades in preparation) and with no replacement plans of their own, just naive political and social abstractions. Anyone with a disposition to disrupt the plans would have been screened out by NASA years before. The audio narrator is barely listenable; he is one of those readers with no ear for the rhythms and stresses of English, and who seems to believe words have no inherent meaning or feeling and he has to inject it, mostly resulting in relentlessly mis-stressed words and phrases to the disruption of the feeling that does reside there. The story being slow, the characters adolescent, and the reading poor, what allowed me to listen to this for the full 24 hours were that Robinson's workmanlike feel for English is usually strong enough to override the reader's misrepresentation of the sentences, and that occasionally a passage describing Mars arises vividly, worth waiting for over long, long stretches.
Far to slow for my taste. Long winded with very little action. Great descriptions of characters and environment, but the plot was confusing.
Kim Stanley Robinson has created the most imaginable colonization of Mars. I found the Audio book captivating. Having read all 3 books in the series, I can say that the concepts in the books are completely realistic. The reader does a really good job of portraying the characters in the Novel, each character is distinct in my mind.
I have really enjoyed this Audio book.
I like Jack Reacher style characters regardless of setting. Put them in outer space, in modern America, in a military setting, on an alien planet... no worries. Book has non moralistic vigilante-justice? Sign me up! (oh, I read urban fantasy, soft and hard sci-fi, trashy vampire and zombie novels too)
If one pretended that humans really did settle on Mars, this book is like listening to a Discovery Channel dramatized info-documentary on the process of settling Mars. We hear about the lives of the people and their squabbles, plus all the details of building a habitat and society in a new land.
It's not bad, but it's not terribly interesting either. The narrator is sufficient.
There is some plot but it's buried under hours of the (very creative) details about settling Mars. This doesn't make it bad, it just makes it... err... unsuspenseful. If you would like detailed descriptions of how a Mars survival suit, space ship or habitat would work, or how a new society would work out their political differences, this is a great book. If you like a mystery or action or wondering "what will happen next" in a story, you probably will be bored with this.
I put my ipod on the faster reading speed but still can't bring myself to spend any more time listening to this pseudo-documentary. I will not be buying any more in this series.
I had really high hopes for this series ... first settlers on Mars, should have been an adventure. But it's written as more of a slow, sweeping saga, and even then it fails.
Most of the books are devoted to the geography of the planet and the building of machinery. There are long descriptive passages of the landscape of Mars, and what caused the different geographical features described. There are equally long passages about the building of the machinery involved in making Mars ready for habitation.
These would have been interesting if there had been more of a story behind them. The characters are very shallow, and it's hard to become involved with any of them. The story line seems like it's about the sides involved in the planet's future - Terra-forming for surface habitation, or leaving it alone and living in shelters - but neither side is fully developed.
On top of that, it's not really clear what the issues really are. The dialogue of the main people on both sides is filled with lots of philosophical and metaphysical mambo-jumbo that is hard to follow.
The narrator tries really hard to be engaging, but it was still hard to get through the plodding story. I admit I only made it about a third of the way through the second book and had to stop. I've listened to some with poor narration but wonderful stories that kept me engaged. Others have been so-so stories with wonderful narrators who brought them to life.
I think that, even with a brilliant narrator, these stories would not have kept my interest. I'm surprised I made it as far as I did. Unfortunately, I bought all three ...
Red Mars (and The Mars Trilogy in general) asks big questions: How can we start over and recreate society, taking out the bad stuff and saving the good stuff? Can we escape history and remake ourselves into something that overcomes oppression of women, slavery, racism, greed, militarism, environmental destructiveness? Can we turn our society into a means for giving every member of that society a chance to achieve his or her own potential? These are big questions; they can't be answered with bumper sticker slogans. It takes a lot of detail and careful, thoughtful discussion to address them. So while a lot happens in this series, it isn't Star Trek. Problems aren't easily resolved. Situations are never black and white. The characters change, grow, and even forget how they got to the present.
For readers who like a lot of meat to chew over, these books are probably among the greatest written in the 20th century - obsessively researched, thickly layered with meaning and analysis; the whole series is something that you can listen to time and again, and hear something different every time. The characters are archetypes; even their names express who they are - but they are also real people, with real emotions, amazingly and skillfully brought to life. The issues discussed are both a comment on the present (and history) and, in the best tradition of science fiction, an analysis of future possibilities. I can't recommend the entire series more highly for the reader who enjoys this sort of thing. But be forewarned - there are bad reviews here, and I'm guessing they are from people who were looking for something different - lots of plot and action, perhaps a little less analysis. I enjoy those books too, so I'm not saying that as a criticism of those who didn't find this to their liking. I'm just saying that there are plenty of other books that fill this role. The Mars Trilogy is something else entirely.
I note that it is highly rated by many people but I found it over-long with stereotypical characters one couldn't empathise with. The book is often commended for its well researched detail but the amount of detail acts as padding and gets in the way of the story - an encyclopaedia may have lots of well researched detail but that doesn't make it a good novel.
The books flits about from one (of the many characters) to another without going into depth and allowing you the chance to empathise. This makes their petty squabbles as to how the planet should be handled irrelevant to the reader. You never really get to understand the reasoning behind each characters stand point only their actions as to what they will do to protect their way of thinking. I also bought the sequels Green and Blue - and it doesn't get any better or more interesting.
"Epic scope, pedestrian delivery"
Let's start with the positives: the audio production of this recording is excellent and the narrator is top notch.
The book itself is epic in scope and tells the story of the settlement and terraforming of Mars in great detail. As far as I can ascertain, the author's research is impeccable and the descriptions of Martian geography and scientific processes are inspired.
So, what's the problem?
Well, there's the length, and there's the pace of the story. Even if it were only half its current length, this would be a big book. To sustain such a long narrative, you would hope for interesting characters, lively prose and plenty of incident and excitement. Sadly, all of these ingredients are absent.
The story unfolds at a glacial pace and the author studiously avoids anything approaching adventure. There are storms, but everyone survives them without too much difficulty. There are many journeys, all of them long, during which little or nothing happens. A mystery is solved in a dull and perfuctory fashion.
Events do finally take a more interesting turn in the final third of the book, but even so, there is too little danger and too much talk.
The prose is functional and competent but nothing more. The characters are flat and two-dimensional and given to delivering set speeches on scientific and political topics. Many of the minor characters seem to be there solely to provide information dumps.
There is plenty of New Age philosophising and cross-cultural apologetics along the way, all of which is no doubt very worthy, but this listener soon tired of it and longed for something interesting to happen. Some sections of this book sound like an attempt at dramatising whole articles from Wikipedia.
So: a long book which is well read and which has some fascinating scientific detail, but which offers little in the way of excitement or interesting characterisation.
I love science fiction, but I'm afraid that I found 'Red Mars' very dull.
Promised much but never delivered this book was so slow I gave up on it as not worth the time to listen
"I'd rather read an encyclopedia"
As a young boy I loved reading about the solar system and looking at the beautiful pictures in encyclopedias. Some time ago I was recommended this series by a fellow researcher and I have to say that this book and series is disappointing.
The book is stilted and plods, there is no real sense of drama or dynamism. You also never really get a sense of the scene being properly set, there are lots of place names thrown about but little or no descriptive writing that makes you feel anything about the place.
This also extends to the characters, I couldn't feel anything really positive towards any of them, I frequently found myself thinking so what? They all seem to be petty, small minded and a little annoying or otherwise bland stereotypes.
Getting through the book was very arduous and painful - even just listening. I have listened to the whole series and they don't get better. The book and series promised lots and delivered very little.
Bland and uninspired.
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