I confess I found myself reading Red Mars in fits and starts and struggled through some parts. I enjoyed the hard science, Robinson is certainly a thorough researcher and much of what goes on seems very plausible. There's a lot of politicking throughout which I very much enjoyed. He also pulls off some really wonderful prose at times, interspersed among all the shouty debates, relationship wrangles and bargaining are small quiet moments in which Robinson works hard to make the character of Mars itself come vividly to life.
I just wasn't as keen on the more soapy stuff, the relationship problems made many of the characters seem really quite shallow or immature,particularly some of the principle females who just didn't seem very well realised to me. And it's quite hard to recall a character that's really likable despite Robinson alluding to their buckets of charisma, one wonders how Frank Chalmers managed to avoid finding himself on the wrong side of a pressurised tent within days of the first hundred landing. And John, the most clear cut hero here, seemed at once clever and really, really dumb.
A successful exploration of near future space colonisation then, a gutsy read full of meaty stuff to get one's teeth into, but just a bit too much soap and not enough opera at times.