- Hardcover: 519 pages
- Publisher: Spectra - Bantam Books (January 1, 1993)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0553092049
- ISBN-13: 978-0553092042
- Product Dimensions: 9.1 x 6.3 x 1.7 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds
- Customer Reviews:
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #352,904 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
Red Mars Hardcover – January 1, 1993
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The first novel in the astounding trilogy, Red Mars chronicles the lives of the first arrivals to Mars. The planet that the settlers find is empty of life and many of the pioneers want to begin changing the ecosystem right away to be suitable for human life. But the purity of the stark landscape convinces some scientists that it should be preserved. The stakes are high and the players on both sides range from politically naive idealists to ambitious manipulators without discernible scruples. No one can be sure that "terraforming" the planet will succeed, but it is certain to change the face of Mars beyond recognition. Red Mars won the 1994 Nebula Award.
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.
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The author spends pages and pages describing features of the planet that no one cares about and has nothing to do with the story. There's a page long list of equipment!!! Who cares!?!?! How does that even advance the story? I suppose if I were going to Mars, I now know what to bring - but I didn't buy this book for a planetary explorer shopping list.
The characters are pathetically stereotypical with the golly-gee-wiz good guy John, the machiavellian "bad" guy Frank who wants John's girl, the oh-so-indecisive girl Maya who loves whomever the wind is blowing toward (or whoever manages to stay alive), and on and on. Empty shells - every last one of them. The true enemy, corporate interests, is this amorphously vague construct that isn't well-defined or expressed.
The action is sparse - despite the book's lead off - and confusing. The author simply notes it in passing and may describe the architecture of the missile or its trajectory in more studious detail than its impact on humanity. The parts you want to hear more about, such as an entire futuristic battle on the Martian surface, are vaguely described while the dimensions, color, texture, and clarity of a hunk of ice gets two pages of detail.
As entertainment, I imagine some engineers may like this or anyone pedantic enough to suffer through multiple pages describing fictional geology. As for me, I can't imagine having to read two more of these books. I'd rather read a geology textbook and learn some "real" science.
All in all a good book - IF YOU WANT TO FALL ASLEEP. How in the world did he get a Hugo award for this!?! I gave it two stars - one because the science and setting are interesting - though overly boringly described. The other for using corporate exploitation as a source of conflict to advance the story. But the lack of depth of the characters and too much depth to things no one cares about almost had me giving up on this even after having trudged half way through it.
My advice: SKIP THIS BOOK UNLESS YOU'RE LOOKING FOR AN ALTERNATIVE TO PRESCRIPTION SLEEP AIDES.
The author of Red Mars, Kim Stanley Robinson, clearly did the necessary homework to displace the reader from our natural environment and deposit us deep into the vast desert-like terrain of Mars. The multicultural facets explored along the way, and their inclusion into the martian mindset, make this a work of SciFi artistry.
While a bit drawn out, the perseverant reader will walk away from Red Mars with his head held high, a mouthful of Martian dust, and a deeper understanding of what it is to tackle a completely alien world and redefine it in only a way humans might.
A very good read for the dedicated, hardcore Science Fiction enthusiast.
Top international reviews
I note in passing that KSR (who is great, by the way - I heard him talk a few years ago and he's marvellous on climate change and politics) can imagine people moving to Mars without either nation-states or capitalism coming to an end...lots of the stuff on Mars is supplied by familiar corporations, though the big names that dominate our lives now - Google, Amazon, etc are of course not there. Prediction is hard, especially about the future.
All I can say to add to this is that this book, this trilogy, opened my mind to subjects I had not considered, to psychological personas and political considerations not open to me before. Its almost psychic in its ability to discern future trends.
It is ahead of its time by a wide margin, only now are the technologies described coming into use, the politics and the environmental disasters into existence, what an insight.
The writing has excellent storytelling which makes you want to turn the page. Its a beautiful, uncomfortable and very logical insight into what may happen in the future.
Al I can do is recommend it to everyone.
A key theme and one of great interest is how society will evolve given what is in effect a clean canvas. But how much baggage are we importing from our Earthly culture? What of those primitive instincts we harbour? KSR goes a long way in speculating on these questions. I was rather sorry to see all the progress made in colonising Mars go up in smoke as the `Terrans`, ( a rather apt sounding word for the powers back on Earth), want to step up mineral exploitation amidst rebellion from the Martians. However KSR manages his own veering from utopian into dystopian without too much disruption and with some fascinating calamitous occurrences although the plot did seem to evaporate a bit towards the end.
This is a fascinating story of man's first venture to Mars with the view of populating it. The book starts off a little ahead of this feat but then goes back to the training astronauts had, their journey to Mars and subsequent landing and building. It's a novel of (quite believable) science fiction, relationships, economy, politics, ethnicity, sabotage and intrigue.
I find it's a book you need to really settle into and to read carefully as there is so much there that you might miss something. A book that each time you read it you realise something new.
Thoroughly enjoyed it and look forward to reading the next two books in the series (on Kindle):
Green Mars (Voyager Classics) and Blue Mars (Voyager Classics)
Do we leave it as it is or make it into another earth? Do we strip it of all its resources and ignore the damage done? How do we govern a new planet?
Is there a balance?
A great trilogy.
If you are even remotely interested in how the colonisation of mars might unfold, I cant recommend this book enough.
The ideas and themes are simple enough to get across but the deeper you go and the more you think about it the more rewarding I found it became.
Overall I now can't wait to get into the next book of the trilogy.
In some ways it struck me as a 21st Century version of what it must have been like for the early colonisers in the United States.
The book is beautifully written, a pleasure to read, and manages to get inside the heads of the main characters without falling into the Dickensian trap of too much description and not enough action.
I read it cover to cover in under a week and had to buy the second book the day I finished the first one.
I would put this in my list of all-time best reads, and for me that is saying something!
I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book, despite the fact that it can be very hard-going at times with the amount of detail about Mars. While there are many novels based on the habitation of Mars, this is probably the best one.