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 th..Show More »e 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?"
Speculative science fiction, when done well, can feel like a yet to be fulfilled prophecy. Kim Stanley Robinson writes good speculative science fictio..Show More »n that achieves this feeling in his novel Green Mars. Green Mars is the second installment of Robinson's epic opus, The Mars Trilogy. Evidence of the book's popularity among scientific crowds is the fact that Green Mars was included in the payload of the 2008 Phoenix expedition to the planet Mars. It is among the first books in the Interplanetary Library. An initial warning: Red Mars, the first book of Kim Stanley Robinson's trilogy, should be read prior to reading Green Mars. The trilogy is not a series of stand alone story arcs that can be coherently read out of order. Red Mars and Green Mars were published a scant 13 months apart in 1993 and 1994. This quick publishing turn around time and the fact that the books are over half a thousand pages each leads one to believe that both books were finished at the same time. While this is just speculation (although I'm sure Kim Stanley Robinson has addressed this matter in interviews in the past 20 years), one can continue to speculate as to why the story was published slightly over a year apart in two different books. Perhaps the author wanted to double his entries in the Hugo and Nebula sweepstakes (Red Mars won the Nebula in 1993, Green Mars won the Hugo 1994). Perhaps the editor thought the tome would be too ponderous for a single book. Perhaps the publisher (Spectra/Bantam Dell/Random House) wanted the profits from two books instead of just one. Whatever the reason, just make sure, even though you are presently reading a review of Green Mars, that you read Red Mars first. Green Mars is set in the near future and is centered around the populating and terraforming of Mars by immigrants from Earth and native born Martians. Green Mars weaves into its plot many other speculative science fiction devices in addition to terraforming. Medical advancements that double or triple the human lifespan play heavily into the story's plot. Other major plot conflicts include environmental disasters and protection (both on Earth and Mars), political dominance by multinational corporations, population growth, and battles over and with advanced technologies such as space elevators, orbiting solar mirrors, and the medicinal treatments for prolonging life. The story is extremely multifaceted and epic in scope. The trilogy spans about 150 years. Green Mars is not particularly light reading, but the story and the science in the story will not soon leave a reader's hippocampus. Kim Stanley Robinson employs a narrative style common to fictional mega-epics with a large cast of characters. The story is told from a third person perspective that is limited to a single character's point of view per chapter. The point of view character alternates every chapter so that the reader can get an idea of everything going on all around Mars. The author creates a linear fluidity to the story this way. This narrative method also allows Kim Stanley Robinson to show off his multiple disciplinary, scientific interests. Depending on the point of view character, the author will use that character's specialty to wax informatively on various fields of science such as geology, environmental science, physics, solar system astronomy, biology, botany, sociology, psychology, philosophy, humanities, economics, mechanical engineering, chemical engineering, social engineering, military science, political science, and even a dash of religion. Often the story is secondary and/or dependent on the description of the sciences (and speculative sciences). Attention and focus is required to follow the story through these interesting, college-level, intellectual interruptions. It is impossible to read Green Mars and not learn something. This will turn off some readers who are only interested in a Mars themed, thrill ride adventure story. If that is what you want, try Robert Heinlein's Stranger in a Strange Land or Edgar Rice Burrough's A Princess of Mars. Green Mars is written for a “hard science fiction” fan base that is interested in intellectualism as much as literary entertainment. The characters, especially the point of view characters, in Green Mars are primarily archetypes of different kinds of scientists, various kinds of revolutionary fighters and politicians, and religious leaders. Their personalities are largely shaped by their professions and/or scientific disciplines. However all the characters are well written and through their actions, thoughts, and expressed values the reader sees multiple dimensions of their passions, flaws, and personalities. The characters and the story are easy to fall in love with but challenging to read. The liberal arts academic who dreaded science class might want to approach this book with caution. However, if you pick up Green Mars and the Mars Trilogy, no matter what you scientific inclination is, you will probably be entertained and definitely be educated.
As is the previous 2 books, Ferrone's performance has no emotion or enthusiasm. The only real problem with this book is when it jumps forward in time,..Show More » it doesn't tell you the date. It covers over a century, jumping decades at a time, without tell the reader/listener where you are.