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Red Mars [Turtleback]

Kim Stanley Robinson
3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (314 customer reviews)

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Book Description

March 2004 0606297723 978-0606297721
In his most ambitious project to date, award-winning author Kim Stanley Robinson utilizes years of research and cutting-edge science in the first of three novels that will chronicle the colonization of Mars.

For eons, sandstorms have swept the barren desolate landscape of the red planet. For centuries, Mars has beckoned to mankind to come and conquer its hostile climate. Now, in the year 2026, a group of one hundred colonists is about to fulfill that destiny.

John Boone, Maya Toitavna, Frank Chalmers, and Arkady Bogdanov lead a mission whose ultimate goal is the terraforming of Mars. For some, Mars will become a passion driving them to daring acts of courage and madness; for others it offers and opportunity to strip the planet of its riches. And for the genetic "alchemists, " Mars presents a chance to create a biomedical miracle, a breakthrough that could change all we know about life...and death.

The colonists place giant satellite mirrors in Martian orbit to reflect light to the planets surface. Black dust sprinkled on the polar caps will capture warmth and melt the ice. And massive tunnels, kilometers in depth, will be drilled into the Martian mantle to create stupendous vents of hot gases. Against this backdrop of epic upheaval, rivalries, loves, and friendships will form and fall to pieces--for there are those who will fight to the death to prevent Mars from ever being changed.

Brilliantly imagined, breathtaking in scope and ingenuity, Red Mars is an epic scientific saga, chronicling the next step in human evolution and creating a world in its entirety. Red Mars shows us a future, with both glory and tarnish, that awes with complexity and inspires with vision.
--This text refers to the Mass Market Paperback edition.

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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

Most helpful customer reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars God and the devil in the details July 7 2004
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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5.0 out of 5 stars Mars is Red - but not for long March 22 2004
By Phome
Format:Mass Market Paperback
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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By A Customer
Format:Mass Market Paperback
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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2.0 out of 5 stars Plodding and tedious Jan. 27 2004
Format:Mass Market Paperback
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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Most recent customer reviews
2.0 out of 5 stars Really? This makes it on to ten-best lists? Must be a pretty thin...
Endless and tedious descriptions of imaginary landscapes and geology. Utterly implausible "just so" stories of technical and scientific advances that appear on demand and... Read more
Published 1 month ago by ca1879
4.0 out of 5 stars An exercise in scientific speculation, at times an excessive one
The Mars trilogy by Kim Stanley Robinson is without a doubt a must for anyone who loves to read or write about this planet. Read more
Published 1 month ago by Anakina
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent
Excellent book. One of the best sci-fi novels out there. Good writing and interesting characters make this a really good read.
Published 3 months ago by Amazon Customer
3.0 out of 5 stars really a 3.5 star book
Pretty good, creative but some of the characters were flat - responding typically. I will definitely read the rest in the series.
Published 4 months ago by NC in Ottawa
3.0 out of 5 stars Decent book detailing a fictional colonization of Mars
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. Read more
Published 11 months ago by David Sapira
4.0 out of 5 stars Great read
Great research and discription went into this book really enjoyed it. The story on both Mars and discussion on what is happening on Earth are quite realistic. Read more
Published 15 months ago by Diego Garzon
5.0 out of 5 stars Extremely solid science fiction
There are lots of stories of meetings with strange alien creatures, and battles in space, etc.
This is not one of those books. Read more
Published 17 months ago by Babblefish
5.0 out of 5 stars Kim Stanley Robinson Does Mars - RED
This whole series: RED, GREEN and BLUE, fully explores Mars like we wish we could, but can't afford. Read more
Published on Jan. 6 2012 by fastreader
1.0 out of 5 stars Boooooriiiing
If you want a good book about Mars, try "Mars" by Ben Bova. This book is not entertaining. I stopped halfway through it, not something I do often.
Published on May 6 2010 by Eric Cote
1.0 out of 5 stars Boring Chick Lit!!!
I bought this book a few years ago based on it's winning awards and being recommended by reviewers in this forum, and by my continuing interest in hard SF and Mars in general. Read more
Published on June 13 2008 by Jeff V
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