There are lots of stories of meetings with strange alien creatures, and battles in space, etc.
This is not one of those books.
Red mars reads like high grade historic fiction, about the future.
The Book is strongly character driven, and manages to surprise without ever feeling planned or contrived. The descriptions are often long and heavy on science, so if you are hoping for a light read with action scenes etc try somewher else. If you are looking for a book that weaves togeather the lives of dozens of distinct and memorable characters, showing both their strengths and weaknesses and how the two are one and the same, with an accurate depiction of physics, history, biology and trust, then this is a book worth reading.
I swear the author must have had at least a dozen PhD's to write this thing.