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Red Mars by Kim Stanley Robinson
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Red Mars

by Kim Stanley Robinson

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: Mars Trilogy (1)

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4,91599938 (3.94)1 / 235
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Showing 1-5 of 92 (next | show all)
Not sure how this got 4 stars..... it reminds me a lot of Asimov's Foundation books that I enjoyed so many years ago - the characters are all pretty wooden, the plot thin and there are an awful lot of descriptive passages describing Mars that it is a temptation to skip over. However the real characters are the place and the social and cultural structures being changed and built and destroyed. The problems being addressed are all very real in the world right now. And that is the strength and triumph of science fiction. Here it is done very well and while you may not care very much what happens to any of the individuals, you are led to care intensely about the society. He has also obviously paid a great deal of attention to what is known about Mars and to the physics involved which gives it a great up to date feel - although in the long run may get out of date so perhaps best read this decade! I shall not wait too long before tackling 'Green Mars'. ( )
  Ma_Washigeri | Jun 17, 2014 |
Although some of the science and math went whizzing by my head, exactly like the asteroids flying by Mars, Red Mars fascinated me on several levels and kept me reading to the end despite its ploddish patches.

One hundred scientists are sent to Mars to see if it can be turned into a viable place to live. Earth is a mess: overpopulated, run by multinational corporations rather than countries, with only lip service being paid to the United Nations and international law. Its food sources are severely compromised, as are its waters and its air.

Robinson takes us through the initial efforts to colonise the place, as seen through the eyes of key players in the “one hundred”. He starts with the murder of one of the key characters and then jumps to the past to work forward to that moment and onward from there. As I got to know this character more, I felt sad about this but also began to read him as a kind of archetype, knowing that he wouldn’t be lingering past a certain point. What that point was and how it all got there is the substance of this first book in the Mars trilogy.

I couldn’t shake the feeling as I read further and further into the story that this was a quietly important book, prophetic and prescient. It did win the Nebula Award but that only reaches a specific audience; I wish it had a wider reach, particularly as I see a lot of what he foresaw as happening on Earth now taking place. I disagree with those reviewers who found it “mind numbingly boring” or “wooden”. I agree that he does go on about rocks too much and that this could have been edited better but it does convey Robinson’s passion for the planet and his deep interest in its possibilities. I got good at skimming the rocks and formulae, almost Martian myself in my ability to go over those rough surfaces.

On to Green Mars, with pleasure.
8 vote tiffin | May 23, 2014 |

This book is mind-numbingly boring. There's potential everywhere in the book, in the interplay between the characters, in the conservation vs terraforming, in the political wrangling, in the economics, in the national vs the big corps and in a myriad other conflict zones the author puts into his book. The exitement is drain out of them all by the prose and the miles and miles and miles of technical jargon, information dumps and repetition of previous technical jargon. The plot is also incoherent and the interplay between the characters is at best bland and at worst incomprehensible.

Avoid unless you're on a quest to read all the hugo and nebula winners. *shiver* ( )
  StigE | Feb 22, 2014 |
Not my cuppa. KSR writes exceptionally well -- the details, the characters, the science. Except, there is a huge glossed over component of some of the science -- the engineering, the actual danger of space flight, colonization, etc. It is easy to be swet away by the length of the novel, the extensive dialogues, the points of view, the whole saga, really. However, the lack of accidents and deaths (as morbid as this sounds) until the revolution seems strange. Overall, a good read; but not something I will continue reading. I'm hoping to enjoy the newer trilogy about climate change. ( )
  lesmel | Jan 31, 2014 |
Red Mars is an impressive piece of work. I would give it 5 stars, but it is, indeed, a tad bit too long. The book is "about" the colonization of Mars by humans who certainly are waaay ahead of science and technology than we are in 2011. The technical aspect of the story is hefty, so those who cannot deal with long arguments about terraforming or bioengineering or mining minerals might hate this book with a passion. The other hefty part is politics. The first 100 scientists who start the colonization go through a selection process and soon it becomes clear that most people had to hide their political views (among other things) to be able to make it. So soon after they take off, political factions start forming. This becomes the main drive of the story, in a way. As the colonization expands from just the first 100 to more people, the powerful force of capitalistic investment is felt and this further strains the different beliefs and factions among the Martians.

The story is told form the point of view of a select few, who are some of the most important characters among the first 100. These characters are well-developed with distinct world views. They also represent different philosophical ideas. In the end, the main issue is if Mars is another mine to be used and abused by a crumbling Earth, or is it, should it try to be, its own, independent entity? And if it is going to be a power of its own, how should it be formed? The economic, philosophical, and biological arguments throughout the book address this and many related mini-issues.

Ultimately, there is a sadness about the way humans go somewhere and destroy it. We have done this to Earth and we will surely follow with something else, if only we could get ourselves to that place.

The molecular biology aspect of the technical stuff was well done. I will say that as of 2011 we do not know a way to just cause "autokilling" in any type of organism by just engineering in two genes. This is done in the book, and it can be thought as a simplified version of what actually happens. But the whole point of the already existing death mechanisms in cells is to prevent overgrowth. Cancer is not the lack of these genes, necessarily; it is the by-pass of such mechanisms. So just engineering in a cell death mechanism does not, would not, prevent an organism from taking over the whole surface of Mars, for example. ( )
  bluepigeon | Dec 15, 2013 |
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» Add other authors (15 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Kim Stanley Robinsonprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Dixon, DonCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Elson, PeterCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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for Lisa
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Mars was empty before we came.
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"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 Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:54:37 -0400)

(see all 6 descriptions)

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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