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Red Mars by Kim Stanley Robinson

Red Mars

by Kim Stanley Robinson

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: Mars Trilogy (1)

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5,331107823 (3.92)1 / 269
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Showing 1-5 of 97 (next | show all)
Struggled through this book and more than once considered throwing in the towel. I should have done — it really is terrible.
  PossMan | Jan 20, 2016 |
I really enjoyed Red Mars. I loved that it was more about the people than about the science, although the science was certainly there underpinning the story. I loved that the people were neither good nor bad, they weren't supermen and superwomen, they were ordinary people with good and bad points, and even when they did things wrong (Frank, I'm looking at you) you can understand their motivations, and recognize them as human.

This story makes you believe that it could really happen, and people being what we are, this is how it would actually go.
( )
  weesam | Jan 4, 2016 |
I have just returned from Mars.

Well, I haven't of course but it feels a little like that. I feel like I have been one of the pioneer colonists struggling to tame Mars for posterity. That is how immersive this book can be, though it is not actually quite so engrossing throughout every page but even to attain that level of engrossment at times is a significant achievement by the author.

I believe this is one of the most popular sf series ever, I have certainly seen it in many "best of" lists, each book in the series has awards up the wazoo. It is not Dune or Enders Game big but if those are XLs this series is definitely an L. Red Mars, the first volume of Kim Stanley Robinson's Mars Trilogy, falls into the subgenre of hard science fiction. It is set in the near future (2026), the science is based on and extrapolated from known science, there are no extraterrestrials, time traveling or FTL travels here.This may not appeal to scifi fans who read books to have their mind blown by bizarre goings on, but for me variety is what keeps sf from becoming stale. Another advantage of hard sf is that it requires very little in the way of suspension of disbelief.

What surprises me about this novel though is the amount of character development in this book, not a common feature of scifi in general, even less so for hard scifi. This is both a strength and weakness of the book because while it is good to be invested in the main characters the emotional scenes can descend into melodrama or even soap operatic. Interestingly considering that Red Mars is very hard sf, KSR clearly has a lot of respect to the Mars themed scifi classics like Bradbury's [b:The Martian Chronicles|76778|The Martian Chronicles|Ray Bradbury|http://d.gr-assets.com/books/1338384826s/76778.jpg|4636013] and [a:Edgar Rice Burroughs|10885|Edgar Rice Burroughs|http://d.gr-assets.com/authors/1207155710p2/10885.jpg]'s Barsoom / Mars books. Considering how much of the book seems to involve battle of the sexes I am glad he does not include any reference to that awful "Mars" book "Men Are from Mars, Women Are from Venus".

On the world building and technological side I find it all very plausible and often vivid. One of my favorite scifi technology is the space elevator, popularized by Arthur C. Clarke's award winning [b:The Fountains of Paradise|149049|The Fountains of Paradise|Arthur C. Clarke|http://d.gr-assets.com/books/1344265959s/149049.jpg|734510] which is due for a reread very soon. The achievements of the scientists / colonists in this book make me think of the amazing height mankind can achieve if we put our minds to it, and the almost inevitable fall from grace through our usual infighting and folly. The process of colonization, terraformation and chaos is very convincingly portrayed here. The politics and the colonists' fight for independence also bring to mind Heinlein's classic [b:The Moon is a Harsh Mistress|16690|The Moon is a Harsh Mistress|Robert A. Heinlein|http://d.gr-assets.com/books/1348768309s/16690.jpg|1048525].

I am tempted to rate Red Mars at five stars but in all honesty there are some rather dull passages or chapters in this book. Looking at some of the less than enthusiastic reviews I came across quite a few comments along the line of "boring" and "like reading a text book". I don't really get the "text book" allegation as I don't think Robinson spends that much time explaining the techs, but I certainly find some of the arduous journey parts of this book almost interminable. If there is a major flaw in this book I believe it to be the pacing, occasionally it grinds to a halt or become rather turgid. This is not actually a deal breaker though, a lot of it is fascinating and very readable, you just have to be patient and not expect the story to be a pulse pounding page turner all the time. By the time I finished the book I realized the whole of it is greater than the sum of its parts, viewed as a whole in retrospect it is a very worthwhile read.

So I think a four stars rating is fair, and I look forward to reading the other two volumes. ( )
  apatt | Dec 26, 2015 |
NOTE: "Piece is a self-contained extract from..Red Mars"

Two scientists are on a mission on Mars to drop special windmills from their balloon craft to help terra-forming when they find that biological materials have added to their payload without their knowledge...But a big storm blows up threatens to blow them past rescue... ( )
  AlanPoulter | Nov 14, 2015 |
This started out and I was worried it was gonna be engineer fanfic, 600 pages of solutionism in space, but as it unfolded it became clear Robinson had bigger ambitions (this is the first of three novels, the colour in the title changing from red to green to blue as the terraforming of Mars proceeds apace).He gets into the larger philosophical issues of "man versus nature" and its limits as a view but also the useful limits adopting it as a perspective places on our field of action--as it plays out via the exporting of the anthropocene to other planets. He gets into what kind of new cultural forms we would expect, the various ways we'd bring old pathologies with us and also try to transcend them. And when the "first 100" scientist-explorers are inevitably followed by wildcatters and corporate sharks and NWO thugs, he looks at all the many ways best-laid plans for revolution and reinvention can go spectacularly awry, taking full advantage of the hostile Martian landscape to write disaster after catastrophe (the UN breaking open titanic aquifers and for-real flooding what we used to think were canals, the "Bogdanovists" bringing down the space elevator, the first 100 literally slowing down the moon Phobos enough to send it crashing into the planet. It's great fun). Robinson's future world is a Malthusian nightmare with no "rise of the South"; the US and Russia (the book was written in the immediate aftermath of the end of the USSR) are still tenuous top dogs in 2050, China and India are teeming giants filled with peasants, broke and ready to charge the walls separating them from the West (and Mars); the UN still pretends to "world government." Perhaps relatedly, he failed to understand the kind of American hegemony that was coming under neoliberalism, in the cultural realm in particular: everyone is so essentialized and exotic--the Swiss colonists (the Swiss!) say things like "They are outsiders. Ausländer"; and someone seems to have told Robinson that the main sects of Islam are "regular" Muslims and "Sufi mystics," with no reference to the Sunni/Shiite split etc.; and in short it is poor futurism in that sense. The main new supertransnational coprorations are "Praxis," "Armscor," and "Subarashii," and on the whole he is enamoured with the "special characteristics" of Japanese civilization in a way that is coming to seem increasingly characteristic of that time, the swelling and bursting of the bubble. ("Giri" makes an appearance; "shikata ga nai" does too; to say nothing of the fact that no Japanese corporation is gonna call itself "subarashii," ever (means fantastic), there's a cultural observation for you Kim Stanley Robinson).

So on the whole this seems less like a convincing vision of what colonization of Mars would be like if it ever happened (to us, now, surely, it seems less likely that it will ever even happen in any future we can glimpse?) than a swashbuckling sciencey space tale, with chills and spills and mysteries and endless incredible Martian landscapes. The terraforming stuff is just damn cool, and even if the colonists' various factional efforts to create a "Mars for the Martians" and/or sell it to Subarashii and Praxis dovetail with the present horrible global-capitalist/worldwide-lumpenprecariat moment and are resonant, if the details are shaky. It would have made a great smart blockbuster film if we hadn't stopped caring about space and gotten into superheroes instead. ( )
1 vote MeditationesMartini | Sep 22, 2015 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Kim Stanley Robinsonprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Dixon, DonCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Elson, PeterCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Mars was empty before we came.
"We became friends first," Arkady said once, "that's what makes this different, don't you think?" He prodded her with a finger. "I love you."
When you expect to live another two hundred years, you behave differently from when you expect to live only twenty.
Possess nothing and be possessed by nothing. Put away what you have in your head, give what you have in your heart.
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0553560735, Mass Market Paperback)

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

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:21:03 -0400)

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Chronicles the colonization of Mars in the year 2026. 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 Toitovna, 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 an 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 planet's 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.… (more)

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