Friday, February 22, 2008

08.05 Red Mars by Kim Stanley Robinson

Red Mars (1993) by Kim Stanley Robinson
Pbk, Spectra, 572 pp.

I did not want to get into another trilogy but I kept hearing such good things about the Mars trilogy. I have been reading another series of books by this author called the Three Californias trilogy and am loving them (if anyone comes across the third book, Pacific Edge, pick it up and I'll pay you back).

Red Mars posits that in 2026 Earth is sending it's first colonial voyage to Mars. 100 colonists split roughly into one third Russians, one third Americans and the rest Internationals survive a grueling selection process and set off to lay the groundwork for future colonists. Even as the journey progresses there is factional infighting which foreshadows the conflict between those who want to terraform and those who want to leave no impact. Upon their arrival the colonists make short work of building the first settlement using the resources from hundreds of caches sent from earth.

The story revolves around a few of the major characters from the First Hundred; their lives, relationships, and the factions that grow around them. Over time, more colonists arrive and a giant space elevator is built to export the vast mineral resources of the planet back to earth. Giant transnational corporations begin to exert more influence over the planet bringing in more and more workers but treating them poorly. Ultimately revolution ferments. The novel ends with the transnationals asserting their power and those opposed to them being driven into exile.

This was a fun book to read although perhaps overly long. At times, I felt the book became somewhat soap opera-y. Robinson writes long intricate descriptions of Mars that really seem like a place that exists. I mean it may exist like he describes but it may not. The beauty of fiction is in the flourishing of the imagination.

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