John Boone, Maya Toitovna, Frank Chalmers, and Arkady Bogdanov lead a mission whose ultimate goal is the terraforming of Mars in order to release Martian moisture into their desolate atmosphere.
This is a vast book: a chronicle of the exploration of Mars with some of the most engaging, vivid, and human characters in recent science fiction. Robinson fantasizes brilliantly about the science of terraforming a hostile world, analyzes the socio-economic forces that propel and attempt to control real interplanetary colonization, and imagines the diverse reactions that humanity would have to the dead, red planet.
Red Mars is so magnificent a story, you will want to move on to Blue Mars and Green Mars. But this first, most beautiful book is definitely the best of the three. Readers new to Robinson may want to follow up with some other books that take place in the colonized solar system of the future: either his earlier (less polished but more carefree) The Memory of Whiteness and Icehenge, or 1998's Antarctica. --L. Blunt Jackson --This text refers to the Mass Market Paperback edition.
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.Read more ›
The main appeal of this book isn't action, and it certainly isn't a quick read, but it is excellent sci-fi for those interested in a more thoughtful, not to mention politically and socially provocative, book.