Kim Stanley Robinson:Red Mars

This is a very...rich book. Well, it's definitely thick.

This might be first of KSR's novels that I've read. I've read his short stories and novella in Asimov's, though. Somehow I wouldn't have picked him to write a novel like this. But having proved his talents for "soft" SF, that just makes his hard SF that much better.

The technical material is flawless, or at least had few flaws I could spot. The main characters(once you figure out who they are)all live and breathe. And so does Mars. (So to speak.)

One hundred colonists leave earth for Mars. The prime movers among them are John, who has wangled this spot despite having already been on the first manned mission, Frank, who has worked with John since that time, Maya, leader of the Russian contingent and the wedge that drives Frank and John apart, Arkady, the Russian rebel who says the things others dare to think, and Nadia, the pragmatic engineer who is the best at getting things done. (Apologies for the lack of surnames, but I don't have the book with me at the moment...)

The colony soon divides into factions--those who want to terraform, and those who want to leave Mars untouched, for study or just out of respect for it; those who want to bring more and more people from Earth to exploit Mars' wealth of natural resources, or those who want Mars to be more than just something to be mined, more than just a property of Earth. Eventually it all comes to a head.

No happy ending, though. The revolution, doomed from the start by the greater forces(and superior position)of Earth, is abortive...but the overall attitude is hopeful. KSR's projection is highly realistic, not the wish-fulfillment others might have resorted to(The Moon Is A Harsh Mistress, anyone?); this isn't a replay of the American revolution, by any means. Characters die, character we have grown to like. But not all of them, and some are bloody but unbowed.

Extremely slow in places, but very moving. Did I hear mention that this was the start of a trilogy?

%A Robinson, Kim Stanley
%T Red Mars
%I Bantam Spectra
%C New York
%D Feb. 1993
%G ISBN 0-553-37134-7
%P 519 pp.
%O Trade paperback

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The Den of Ubiquity / Aaron V. Humphrey / alfvaen@gmail.com