Mars - the red planet - is a barren landscape of mankind's dreams of space. This book follows the colonization of the planet, as a cratered wasteland is turned into a human habitation.
‘Red Mars is the ultimate in future history’
'One of the undisputed leaders of the field in contemporary science fiction' Guardian
'If I had to choose one writer whose work will set the standard for science fiction in the future, it would be Kim Stanley Robinson…' New York Times
‘One of the finest works of American sf’
Times Literary Supplement
‘Absorbing, impressive, fascinating… Utterly plausible’
'A mighty trilogy… forecasting every detail and facet, triumph and tragedy, crucial breakthroughs and trivialities of humanity's colonization of another world'
‘A staggering book. The best novel on the colonization of Mars that has ever been written.’
Arthur C. Clarke
The Future History of Mars - Part One
1969: Neil Armstrong becomes the first man to set foot on the Moon.
2020: John Boone becomes the first man to set foot on Mars.
2027: The first mass-landing arrives on Mars.
It's the greatest challenge mankind has ever faced.
In 2027, the Ares, the biggest space-worthy craft ever built by man, reaches high orbit around Mars. Inside is a crew who will become the first one hundred people to land on the planet's surface.
Among them are the Russian team, led by the magnetic Maya Toitovna and radical socialist Arkady Bogdanov with their pragmatic engineer Nadia Cherneshevsky; Hiroko Ai - a Japanese biologist; and the Americans, led by Boone and the ambitious Frank Chalmers. Their mission: terraform a frozen wasteland with no atmosphere into a new Eden.
Their mission must succeed. The future of human civilization depends on it.--This text refers to the Paperback edition.
It starts out, as an epic soap-opera - for want of a better description - about a group of 100 carefully chosen scientists, sent on their way to establish the first permanent colony on another planet, and all their curious personal interactions. Halfway there, they decide - as one might expect to happen - if they are to start a completely new civilisation, why should they be controlled from another planet, and do everything in accordance with NASA protocol. There begins the rebellion, which - a couple of tens of thousands of new colonists later - develops into a guerilla war for the control and sovereignty of our second home.
Kim Stanley Robinson likes to set up interesting little philosophical arguments between the main characters (as in "The Years of Rice & Salt", also an excellent book), and thus we see the continual disagreement between those who believe we have a duty as intelligent space-faring beings to spread life wherever there is none, and those who believe there is intrinsic value in a barren but untouched landscape, and that it should be left well alone.
All the characters are very well thought-out and developed (Sax being my favourite), and with a few notably exceptions, all of the technology the author proposes is very "near-future".
I have no idea what was going through the minds of the people who gave this book "1 Star". They should probably tackle something less challenging first, like one of Enid Blyton's epics. This book is unashamedly big and long, but it is so, because it covers an important and epic story.
Some day we will do this for real, assuming we haven't already killed ourselves off - which is a distinct possibility.
Read it, and take it for what it is: an incredibly well-constructed epic story about the human condition, transplanted to another planet. I find this book truly inspiring, and it is one of the only few I re-read at least once every two years.
The second book is about 85% as good as the first one, and strongly recommended also. The third one mainly really ties up loose ends, and is definitely worth a read if you liked the other two, but is certainly nowhere near as groundbreaking.
READ IT. READ IT. READ IT. (Then read the other two).
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!
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