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RED MARS. Paperback – 1993

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Paperback, 1993
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Product Details

  • Paperback
  • Publisher: Grafton (1993)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 000224053X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0002240536
  • Product Dimensions: 23.4 x 15.2 x 4.8 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 839 g
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (315 customer reviews)
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3.7 out of 5 stars

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By David S on Sept. 6 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I liked the concept, and was captivated almost immediately by the story. However, as the story progressed, the novel slowed down significantly, almost to a boring pace. There are several characters of which the story is told from their point of view, but the dry writing style makes it difficult to emphasize with any of the characters - the book feels too scientific and not fun. There is a dash of political intrigue built in which adds an extra layer, but I put this book down many times during my read (out of sheer boredom). If you're looking for good sci-fi, I'd probably start somewhere else.
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Format: Kindle Edition
Kim Stanley Robinson's Mars Trilogy is an astounding work of fiction. If were not in the genre ghetto that even the best science fiction gets stuffed into, I'm convinced it would be taught in literature courses around the world for its elegant plotting, delicately explored themes, and keen insight into a wide variety of human experiences. The trilogy features epiphanic moments, heart-pounding action sequences, political debates, and lots of great science fiction ideas. Like all great literature, it has the potential to be life-altering if it comes along at a point in your life when you're open to it.

Robinson is gifted when it comes to characterization. There is an omniscient third person narrator, but each section focuses on a particular point-of-view character that sometimes subtly and sometimes drastically alters the way the story is told, depending on each character's interests and propensities. A scientist studying the changing planet, a politician dealing with an explosive political situation, and an idealistic and charismatic celebrity will all experience a shared series of events in very different ways, and Robinson gets this across with such finesse that you barely even realize he's doing it.

Robinson's Mars is a place that feels real. While scientific knowledge of the red planet has progressed over the last few decades and the science of his Mars is now somewhat out of date, he brings Mars to life at the same time as he describes his characters bringing life to Mars. Alien landscapes are not only effectively described, but Robinson helps the reader understand how and why these landscapes begin to shape the philosophies and behaviors of the colonists in the same way real Earth cultures are affected by their geography.

It's not a perfect book.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
The Mars trilogy by Kim Stanley Robinson is without a doubt a must for anyone who loves to read or write about this planet. Certainly it is a huge work from many points of view.
This first book focuses on the first colonization of the planet imagined in the very near future in respect of our present, while the book was written back in 1993. Then it continues in a time span of several decades describing the beginning of a terraforming project.
On the one hand we see the usual optimism of this kind of science fiction to imagine an event of titanic proportions in a relatively short time, which will certainly be denied by the facts. Beyond that, you can hardly call this book a novel. Sure, there are characters and their stories, linked with each other, but from a narrative point of view it seems more like a series of episodes, shown from different points of views, giving us a choral narration, in which there isn't a true protagonist if not Mars itself.
The individual stories, however, appear to be just an excuse for the author's attempt to immerse himself in other fields, mostly scientific ones, although he often tends to lead to sociology, politics, and even psychology. The result is a book that tends to look more like a speculative treaty than a true novel. The characters suffer about that, thus ending up in the margins. Most of them are not making much to be loved. I admit that I had trouble to get fond to them. The only one I really liked is Frank, maybe because I have found him the most human one, with his virtues and especially with his flaws. Too bad he was then hit by the karma of some too politically correct American stories, according to which, if you do something reprehensible, and at the end you have to pay somehow.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
Kim Stanley Robinson does a masterful job of realizing a diverse array of characters, not the least of which is the planet itself. I found Ann and Frank exasperating, John and Nadia at times exhilirating and something of a disappointment, Sax and Hiroko equally inscrutable, and Maya making me wish someone would just slap her. I am astonished that anyone can keep track of so many personnae and keep their voices distinct.
Equally, I am astonished by Robinson's command of geology, meteorology, thermodynamics, and even economics. The details read well and ring true. For years, I wondered why no one had covered this sort of project in detail: terraformation, colonization, expansion. Most writers seem satisfied to take these things as read. Robinson shows what a great literary work a little delving (okay, a whole lot of delving) can produce.
On the down side, the details occasionally get in his way. In particular, I found three details more than a little discomfiting.
First, in the personna of Michel, Robinson outlines his personal psychometry of personalities. In doing so, he provides both an oversimplification of human character and an unwelcome glimpse at Robinson's methodology for building characters. Like sausage-making and legislation, perhaps this process would have been better left unexamined.
Second, I think the abundance of water in the substrate of Robinson's Mars is more than a tad optimistic. I realize that having to bring in water ice from the asteroid belt and Saturn's rings would have slowed the development quite a bit, but considering what a wealth of story Robinson typically finds in the details, I think this obstacle would have made for even more excellent writing opportunities.
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