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View Full Version : Thoughts on the Mars Trilogy?



Daryl71
2007-Jul-31, 06:16 PM
The other day I finally finished Kim Stanley Robinson's Red Mars. I know the Mars Trilogy is a bit polarizing among Science Fiction fans, but I thought I'd give it a shot anyways.

Well, it was nothing if not ambitious, but I hated just about everything about it. None of the characters were sympathetic - all they seemed to do was rant (usually in overlong speechlike dirges), argue, and get themselves caught up in soap opera situations. I wanted to personally slap everyone silly when I was done. The pacing was just plain grueling - half the book seemed to consist of characters driving from one place to the other while Robinson prattled on about how beautiful the landscape was. The entire plot seems to have been carefully constructed to ensure a violent revolution by the end. Yeah, let's include communists, Christian conservatives, hardcore capitalists, and environmentalists among the first 100 people to live on Mars. Give the UN unlimited military resources to police the population, let giant corporations control the planet, and let just about everyone emigrate to Mars. Makes perfect sense to me. :doh:

I consider myself a fan of hard science fiction, but this one just left me cold. Is Green Mars any better, or should I just move on to something else?

loglo
2007-Jul-31, 06:22 PM
If you didn't like the first one then I doubt you would like the 2nd one. Unless you have a hankering for politics. Or space elevators. :)

Tucson_Tim
2007-Jul-31, 06:28 PM
I read Red Mars and it started out great then became tedious towards the end - the politics and such. I started on Green Mars but couldn't finish it.

Paracelsus
2007-Jul-31, 06:54 PM
I read Red Mars and Green Mars; I got so sick of all the political ** in the second one that I gave up on the series.

mike alexander
2007-Jul-31, 08:52 PM
I couldn't read them, either. Which is too bad, because Robinson can be such a good and engaging writer. Find his "Mother Goddess of the World" and read it, instead. Loved that story.

Van Rijn
2007-Jul-31, 10:06 PM
I read all of Red Mars. For the next two books, I did a lot of scanning, and I don't usually scan books. I skipped over a lot of the political stuff. I did like some of the technical aspects, but it would have done better as a single book.

Jason Thompson
2007-Jul-31, 11:00 PM
I think most people who complain about the politics in the book miss the point entirely.

Colonising and terraforming Mars is going to have political consequences, and there are going to be political and business interests in there. I'm sure we'd all love the first major colonisation to be a single, co-operative venture that proceeds along idyllic lines of everyone getting along and bowing and scraping to mission control back on Earth. Certainly that's how shorter, simpler works on the subject would have it. But do we really believe that will be the case?

I think Robinson does an excellent job of portraying a very complex activity in a realistically complex fashion. Yes, OK, there are some obvious narrative cheats like the anti-aging to allow the characters to stick around long enough to see the project through all the way, but we are already arguing down here about what we should do on Mars before we even have the capability to send anyone there. Of course there are going to be arguments about what to do with it once we actually get there. Why wouldn't the settlers lobby for political independence, when that so clearly happens here? Why wouldn't there be endless debates over the extent to which the environment should be modified? Why wouldn't big businesses try to capitalise on the success of the venture?

Personally I thought the first two books were excellent, but the third was a bit of a let-down, with some rather excessive genetic manipulation of people and sudden expansion across the entire solar system.

Terraforming and colonising another planet is going to be big, complex, long, and very probably far messier than we would want it to be. I think Robinson's novels are a very good telling of the tale, in a scale matching that of the project.

Tucson_Tim
2007-Aug-01, 12:04 AM
None of the characters were sympathetic - all they seemed to do was rant (usually in overlong speechlike dirges), argue, and get themselves caught up in soap opera situations. I wanted to personally slap everyone silly when I was done.

I agree. I didn't care about any of the characters. I could have probably waded thru the necessary politics if I cared more.

Van Rijn
2007-Aug-01, 12:15 AM
I agree. I didn't care about any of the characters. I could have probably waded thru the necessary politics if I cared more.

I didn't care for the characters much, but there was one book, the name of which escapes me, by Harry Turtledove, about World War II in a world of magic that was worse. I reached the point where I was actively hoping the main characters would get killed. Incredibly tedious stuff.

Van Rijn
2007-Aug-01, 12:19 AM
I think most people who complain about the politics in the book miss the point entirely.

Colonising and terraforming Mars is going to have political consequences, and there are going to be political and business interests in there.


Oh, I understand that part. He isn't the first to consider political issues involved in colonizing another planet. But it was one of the most tedious takes on the subject I've seen.

Tucson_Tim
2007-Aug-01, 12:45 AM
To say something positive: The technical aspects were very interesting.

Van Rijn
2007-Aug-01, 01:11 AM
To say something positive: The technical aspects were very interesting.

Definitely. That's the main reason why I bothered with the latter two books.

Tucson_Tim
2007-Aug-01, 01:44 AM
I reached the point where I was actively hoping the main characters would get killed. Incredibly tedious stuff.

Sort of like the Final Destination movies - they make the charcters so unlikeable so that you shout "Yes!" everytime one of them bites it.

Bolasanibk
2007-Aug-01, 07:25 AM
I read the 'Red Mars' a couple of months ago. Is it only me or was the planning for the expedition very shoddy.

Noclevername
2007-Aug-05, 05:43 PM
I read the 'Red Mars' a couple of months ago. Is it only me or was the planning for the expedition very shoddy.

One single therapist for that many people? And a poorly-chosen, mostly half-mad bunch at that? Yeah, shoddy isn't strong enough a word.

The technical details are stunning. The personal ones, not so much.

Bolasanibk
2007-Aug-06, 12:09 PM
add to the list of things missing from planning:

Chain of command
Division of responsibility (If I remember right, they had to call for volunteers for the mission on Phobos)