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Icehenge Paperback – 4 Jul 2011
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Voted one of the best science fiction novels of the year in the 1985 Locus Poll, Icehenge is an early novel by Kim Stanley Robinson (author of the trilogy comprising Red Mars, Green Mars, and Blue Mars) and takes place in the same universe. The story is part mystery and part psychological drama, divided into three distinct sections.
In the year 2248, Mars is ruled by a Politburo-like committee that actively discourages dissent as well as travel and exploration of other planets. Scientist Emma Weil becomes involved in a covert plot to convert a stolen ship into a self-supporting spaceship. She turns down a chance to accompany the starfarers, and returns to her beloved Mars where she joins the revolution already in progress.
Three centuries later, archaeologist Hjalmar Nederland unearths a governmental cover-up of the true facts behind the old revolution. At the same time, a Stonehenge-like monument is discovered on the north pole of Pluto, and Nederland sets out to prove his theory that the monument is connected to revolutionaries and their contemporaries who left for the stars. Seventy years later, his great-grandson Edmond Doya becomes convinced that Icehenge is a hoax, and attempts to disprove Nederland's theory.
In addition to futuristic issues such as interstellar travel and the terraforming of Mars, Robinson's characters grapple with politics, careers, families and ageing. Icehenge is a worthy introduction to the author's winning combination of hard science and believable characterization. --Bonnie Bouman
‘One of the finest working novelists in any genre’
'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
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This book is nothing in comparison.
It's not consistent with the trilogy for a start, although I haven't checked what was written first. Second, it has almost none of the science of the trilogy.
I didn't want to put any of the Mars trilogy down after I started reading them. I didn't want to pick Icehenge up.
Reading it the second time, I found I could recall nothing of the book. I have packed it away so I can't give you the page numbers but you have to go about 100 pages (I think) before the word Pluto comes up, and no one goes there till the very end.
Too much boring political stuff and unlikeable characters.
I couldn't suspend my disbelief in a future where the Soviet Union still exists, but the internet doesn't. In this future there are no mice, pointers, or graphical user interfaces. All instructions are typed into computers and although books can be downloaded, you have to print them off. That might not sound important, but all of these things are significant parts of the plot, and therefore integral to the success of the book.
There are some good bits in there about life on Mars, longevity and its effects on memory, but - through no fault of the author's - the world was just too difficult to believe in. Nothing dates faster than something once designed to be futuristic.
The story starts with a woman who finds herself unwillingly caught up in a revolution against the rulers of Mars, before jumping ahead to an Archaeologist determined to prove that the official history of the revolution is a hoax. Finding the unwilling revolutionary's diary proves it to him - but what about the rest of Mars? And just what is their connection with the strange arrangement of Ice Blocks at the North Pole of Pluto?
A couple of hundred years later, one of his descendants is unsatisfied with even the revised explanations, and the search continues: who put Icehenge there? Is it a hoax? Is the whole thing a set up? There is only one way to find out - but will even that unravel every thread?
I enjoyed Icehenge immensely, and it is possibly one of the best introductions to Kim Stanley Robinson's work. It fully deserves a five star rating, and a place in the collection of anyone who enjoys serious SF.
At its heart, this book is a mystery novel. Set in roughly the same future as the Mars trilogy (although with differences I felt were on a par with the differences between the Hobbit's world and that of the Lord of the Rings) the book focuses around "Icehenge" - a structure on a distant planet - and the mystery is about who built it, and why.
Robinson fills the book with his usual scientifically-rigorous background detail, making it feel as though he must surely have lived in this future and come back in time to tell us about it. His characters are, unsurprisingly given the length of the book, less developed than some of the ones in the Mars books, but the three central characters of the book are nicely detailed, and full of traits and peccadilloes, making you feel amazing sympathy for them even when they're behaving in ways you could never countenance.
If you really want to read Robinson's masterpiece, read the Mars trilogy (or at least Red Mars), but if you want to see how he got there, read this one.