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on 24 August 2002
This is one of the classics of modern SF. Strangely, though, there's very little literal science fiction in there. Apart from one gimmick later on, almost all of the science in this book we could do today. And therefore the story ends up being much more about the people and the politics. When I put it down, I was struck by two thoughts. Firstly that it's very easy to forget that Robinson has never actually been to Mars to research it, since the detail is so great. And second, that when we colonise Mars, this is exactly how we'll mess it up.
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on 28 August 2014
A cracking read. I can highly recomend all three books.
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on 19 July 2014
It grows on you. Which is just as well it is a long read
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on 19 September 2014
Good Book
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on 18 June 2014
Beautifully told and thoroughly enjoyable to read. An Amazing insight in to the future of humanity, and the psychology of man
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on 20 December 2005
"Red Mars" in particular, and the remainder of the trilogy as a whole are quite simply the best novels I have ever read. Ever. And I have read quite a few, s/f or otherwise. I recommend this to everybody, whether they like science-fiction or not.
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).
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on 14 July 2014
The Mars trilogy by Kim Stanley Robinson is without a doubt a must for anyone who loves to read or write about this planet. Certainly it is a huge work from many points of view.
This first book focuses on the first colonization of the planet imagined in the very near future in respect of our present, while the book was written back in 1993. Then it continues in a time span of several decades describing the beginning of a terraforming project.
On the one hand we see the usual optimism of this kind of science fiction to imagine an event of titanic proportions in a relatively short time, which will certainly be denied by the facts. Beyond that, you can hardly call this book a novel. Sure, there are characters and their stories, linked with each other, but from a narrative point of view it seems more like a series of episodes, shown from different points of views, giving us a choral narration, in which there isn't a true protagonist if not Mars itself.
The individual stories, however, appear to be just an excuse for the author's attempt to immerse himself in other fields, mostly scientific ones, although he often tends to lead to sociology, politics, and even psychology. The result is a book that tends to look more like a speculative treaty than a true novel. The characters suffer about that, thus ending up in the margins. Most of them are not making much to be loved. I admit that I had trouble to get fond to them. The only one I really liked is Frank, maybe because I have found him the most human one, with his virtues and especially with his flaws. Too bad he was then hit by the karma of some too politically correct American stories, according to which, if you do something reprehensible, and at the end you have to pay somehow.
The book is still for the most part interesting, especially if you're looking for an in-depth pseudoscientific study. At the base of speculation there is a very accurate science, the result of considerable research. Perhaps the worst problem of this book is to have wanted to exceed in this sense, focusing too much on technical aspects at the expense of fiction.
In some parts I got bored and I skipped many pages. I do not regret it. At one point, in the part of the expedition narrated by the psychologist, the author leaves for a tangent with a very boring and unnecessary psychological disquisition. When the scope was more purely scientific, I read it with interest.
One thing that jars is the desire to be obsessively accurate from a scientific perspective and then expand without limits into the speculative part, arriving in my opinion to exceed.
The finale ends in catastrophism, an argument that I cannot generally stand, not only in the narrative, leaving you with a bad taste in the mouth, because the mood of the story starts with an optimistic base to arrive in a crescendo of drama to an excessive epilogue.
Having to give an overall opinion, it is undoubtedly a remarkable book, but not an easy read, due to its complexity and length. Certainly, however, it leaves you with something.

Rita Carla Francesca Monticelli, author of Red Desert - Point of No Return
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on 16 December 2012
Red Mars is the first of a series of 3 books (..green and blue Mars). All of these totalize around 2500/3000 pages of real science fiction if I could say. The story gravitates around the 100 first humans to colonise the planet and their subsequent struggle to save it from earth's greedy exploitation.

For some reasons, Mars has always fascinated man's imagination. Probably because it is the most likely planet we will move next. Or is it because it could be our savior?

The series is lengthy and many people can find it boring which in some extent I could understand. Lets say if you dont like it after 200pages, you will probably not like it at all and struggle to finish the book. The books are relatively consistant in terms of rythm, style or content thus if few things anoy you, it is likely that you will suffer to read it.

For the rest of us who enjoy the Mars series, this is a monumental piece of work. i do not think the author is trying to show off his knowledge but rather wants us to open our eyes on the multi-science requirements for colonising a planet. Everything is in there: geology, climatology, sociology, ethics, revolutions and rebellions, racism, cold war legacy, politics, etc.

One of my favourite subject is the anti-ageing treatment that is commercialised few years after the initial landing. This creates havoc on earth. Imagine: Rich citizens only can access it while the remainder of the earth population is dying of hunger !
I never came across a book that asks so many questions regarding immortality: boredom, lost of memory, change of personality, polygamism, etc..

On the contrary, one of the criticism of the book is the way some characters are pictured. I tend to agree that author is trying to give them depth but it does not always work. For example, I became a bit irritated with the triple love relation between Chalmers, Maya and Boone.

On the other hand, characters such as Sax, Michel or Hiroko are a success from my point of view.

Red Mars is probably my favourite of the three. Probably mainly because it is more "ground breaking" than the others. The two others are more of a "we take the same people, the same problems and concepts and we write another book". Still, they are enjoyable but not as much as the first one.

One of the great question coming out from these books is: "by the time we would colonise Mars, would we have pacify our civiliation to not repeat the same mistakes or would we bring our problems to this new planet?"
the book becomes quite violent when the Mars revolution takes place. The repression by metanationals is quick and violent.
It seems that our civilisation, if successful in colonising other planets, would always be on the brink of disintegration or collapse and the jump and requirement for sending colons to reduce congestion on our already inhabited planets would be permanent. In other words, the inner pressure in our societies and poverty would continuously fuel a migration of colons to other better promising worlds.
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on 27 February 2012
Red Mars is divided into 8 parts, each lived through a different primary character. We vicariously experience the colonization and expansion of Mars through Frank, Maya, Nadia, and mission commander John Boone, as well as Michel Duval, the psychiatrist and one member who didn't request this post, and Ann Clayborne, an irascible scientist who turns red-environmentalist. This forms within the reader an intense intimacy and understanding of each person's psychological makeup. When we discover the character of the pioneer killed in Part 1, we comprehend the profound loss to the group entire.

But Red Mars isn't tragedy... it's sheer reality. Robinson writes the best "science science-fiction" of any major author out there. Arthur C. Clarke himself wrote of Red Mars: "A staggering book... the best novel on the colonization of Mars that has ever been written... It should be required reading for the colonists of the next century." Robinson's scientific research is impeccable, as is his awesome understanding of world cultures. The reader becomes a citizen of the world by first becoming a citizen of Mars.

The men and women of Red Mars overcome much in this volume: the planet's forces, internal factions, the politics of city-building and immigration from Earth; and the joy is in the details. "It was a world of acts, and words had no more influence on acts than the sound of a waterfall has on the flow of the stream." This book spans decades of acts and actions, individual and collective. By the end of the book, Mars has undergone large-scale terraformation, introduction of biological agents, and mass emigration from Earth. The planet's potential has been noticed and exploited (in both positive and negative manner) by religious groups, transnational corporations, and Earth nation-states. The undercurrent of revolution is strong in this still colonial wilderness, and threatens to explode at any moment.The subconscious parallels made to America in this book are utterly fascinating.
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on 25 January 1999
Red Mars gives an insightful view of true human nature, from different perspectives portrayed with the different characters in the book. The interaction between the characters is written superbly, with the prose giving use an idea of what people would go through if they were the only hundred people on a new planet. The interactions could be likend to the classic "Lord of the Flies", and perhaps the setting too. It gives an excellent account of what life would be like on Mars.
From the first paragraph of the book it draws you in developing the characters that you start to empathise with, seeing their points of view, feeling what they would in that situation. Robinson conveys the sense of 'being there'.
It's fantastic sci-fi too, with great attention to detail to create a beleiveable world for the first hundred to live in. From the account of the trip to Mars to the final chapters in the city, you get a very real sense of the near-future and what it contains.
When you finish it, you get the sense of having completed a great journey and, with the following Green and Blue Mars books, beginning something else. If you read it just for the sci-fi, you're missing the point.
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