"Blue Mars" continues direstly from where "Green Mars" left off. The Martians have gained their independence from Earth and now set about establishing new forms of government and developing their own way of life, rather than have it decided for them by the Terran meta-nationals. The book focuses heavily on the actions of the remnants of the First Hundred, such as Sax,Ann,Maya and Nadia plus new characters like Zo and Nirgal.
"Blue Mars" as the title suggests is set on a fully terraformed Mars. The atmosphere has thickened and heated up and the ice seas have melted and created a hydrosphere similar to Earth. The masks and walkers have now been disposed of. The scientific substance of the book now concentrates on developing the longevity treatment, ecopoesis and the psychological difficulties of coping with living for 200 years plus.
I didn't find "Blue Mars" to be as fascinating and exciting as the first two books of the trilogy and was a bit overlong. Perhaps that was due to over familiarity with the setting and characters and it was only when Nirgal and Zo featured heavily that "Blue Mars" had a character of its own and came to life , but unfortunately most of the book concentrated on the First Hundred whose lifes work was more or less complete by the end of "Green Mars". I would have liked to have read more about "The Accelerando" instead. I also didn't like the prolonged ending to "Blue Mars"; I thought it was lacking in impact somewhat and didn't bring the Trilogy to the spectacular end it deserved.
However "Blue Mars" is still a wonderful book, full of impressive and credible scientific detail, and if Mars is to be colonised then this trilogy is a perfect guidebook for its terraformation. However the timeframe for the colonisation set out by Robinson is slightly over-optimistic I think ; maybe by a hundred years or so. I cant see antelope roaming the forests of Mars until the 23rd Century at least ! Although technology is advancing all the time.
As I read through the Mars Trilogy, I couldnt help but think that science, in its entirety, the geology,biology,physics,chemistry and all its subdivisions , is nothing more than Man progressively trying to get into the mind of God, to be God. They are a very humanist and rationalist series of novels, however they promote a form of intellectual elitism. Science is worshipped,science can provide the answers to everything and highly intelligent elitists know best. There is no room for religion or the supernatural in this vision.
"Blue Mars" is a must read for those who have read the first two books, it would be incomprehensible if you haven't. It is a fitting conclusion to a remarkable series of novels. It is also easy to read ; I raced through its 800 pages in 9 days, so theres no excuse for not reading the whole series now !