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Red Mars Turtleback – Mar 2004


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Turtleback, Mar 2004
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--This text refers to the Mass Market Paperback edition.

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Product Details

  • Turtleback: 572 pages
  • Publisher: Demco Media (March 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0606297723
  • ISBN-13: 978-0606297721
  • Product Dimensions: 3.8 x 11.4 x 17.1 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 340 g
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (314 customer reviews)

Product Description

From Amazon

Red Mars opens with a tragic murder, an event that becomes the focal point for the surviving characters and the turning point in a long intrigue that pits idealistic Mars colonists against a desperately overpopulated Earth, radical political groups of all stripes against each other, and the interests of transnational corporations against the dreams of the pioneers.

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.

From Publishers Weekly

The first installment in Robinson's ( Blind Geometer ) new trilogy is an action-packed and thoughtful tale of the exploration and settlement of Mars--riven by both personal and ideological conflicts--in the early 21st century. The official leaders of the "first hundred" (initial party of settlers) are American Frank Chalmers and Russian Maya Katarina Toitova, but subgroups break out under the informal guidance of popular favorites like the ebullient Arkady Nikoleyevich Bogdanov, who sets up a base on one of Mars's moons, and the enigmatic Hiroko, who establishes the planet's farm. As the group struggles to secure a foothold on the frigid, barren landscape, friction develops both on Mars and on Earth between those who advocate terraforming, or immediately altering Mars's natural environment to make it more habitable, and those who favor more study of the planet before changes are introduced. The success of the pioneers' venture brings additional settlers to Mars. All too soon, the first hundred find themselves outnumbered by newcomers and caught up in political problems as complex as any found on Earth.
Copyright 1992 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

3.7 out of 5 stars

Most helpful customer reviews

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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Robinson's "Red Mars" is a comprehensive and complete book on man's colonization of Mars. It is full of scientific, political and economic consequences of human settlement on Mars, and arguments from both sides are presented in detail through the opposing perspectives of different characters within the book. In addition, the book is full of symbolism, such as the "elevator" that is built, only to be pulled down by the hands of the revolution destroying much of the Martian surface and dispersing humans in a manner that made me think of the Tower of Babel.
The story begins on a spaceship of the "first hundred" people that are off to begin life on Mars. All of them are scientists, which of course makes for a less than complete representation of human kind, although full of intellectualism and nutty personalities. The mission is meant to be representative of the world's nationalities, dominated by American and Russian teams. Each group of scientists have their own tasks, whether it is flying the space craft, cultivating food, construction once on Mars, ecologists to study Mars, terraformers, biologists, physicists, and even a psychologist.
The 8 month journey to Mars is enough to drive some people crazy, and Maya, the Russian leader thinks that she is hallucinating when she unwittingly spots a man whom she does not know onboard the spacecraft. People develop relationships and hatreds, and their true personalities start to come out after hiding most of their peculiarities from the selection committee to be able to go to Mars.
Robinson follows different characters for each part of the book, and this makes it a more interesting and in-depth read, as we get different viewpoints on how the people see Mars and what they want from the planet.
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Kim Stanley Robinson does incredible work in this magnificent story of the colonization of Mars. The way he describes the many opinions of the characters in Red Mars is extremely well thought-out. His research is obviously very professional and the scientific information seems absolutely true.
I liked the way he used sections and chapters; the sections would be the only ones with titles and they would begin with italicized thoughts or stories of "Big Man," or the discovery of the alchemist's most desired breakthrough. And each section would be from the point of view of an individual character. The sections have chapters but they don't have titles, and this type of format provides very enjoyable reading, because the ideas clearly help me process the story.
And yet, as I read deeper into the book, I also read deeper into his mind: and what I found I did not like. Throughout the book, the intimacy of the characters is more and more revealed, but actions of the characters are not necessary to portray the beauty and the grandeur of the story of Mars that Robinson so passionately portrays. If only he refrained from this, I would have enjoyed it immensely more.
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Kim Stanley Robinson has done his homework. He knows all about atompsheric partial pressures and soil ecology. He knows how to convey information via the written word competently. He knows not the first thing about people or fiction writing, though, and that's unfortunate. The Mars "trilogy" is a single boring, shapeless mass of words. The characters are laughably two-dimensional symbols, avatars for ideas or concepts -- they're not people. If they were, you wouldn't want to know them.
And they talk. They talk and talk and talk. They argue and argue. They talk about terraforming, they talk about politics, they talk about each other, in an endless cycle of debates, meetings, conventions, committees, assemblies, conclaves and arguments. Robinson has invented a kind of Model UN, he has worked to draw charts of manufactured political factions boring each other to death in interminable meetings. It is not interesting. It was not worthwhile to expend this effort towards such a boring end.
What is most depressing is not the boring storyline, the endless loops of the same argument, the stupid and contemptible behaviour of many of the characters, but Robinson's contempt for the English language. English, to him, is just a tool; a means of expressing information. If he could write fiction in equations he would. He ends sentences with "etc., etc." and tells us about his characters' lavatorial habits. He shows not a shred of joy, of affinity for his medium. There is no structure; "Red Mars", "Green Mars" and "Blue Mars" are all the same book. That this deathless, humorless prose is used to trace out a saga of such incomprehensible tedium is unforgiveable. Only the bland competence of the whole endeavor rescues it from complete failure; and even then Robinson has missed things: the SI unit of pressure is the Pascal, not the Bar, and that Kelvins don't come in degrees.
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