Blue Mars by Kim Stanley Robinson
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
The first two novels in the Mars trilogy were pretty much a tight mix of colonization, politics, SO MUCH GREAT SCIENCE, and fairly interesting characterizations pretty much designed to carry the sprawling expanse of what MARS is more than anything else.
Let's put it this way, and careful, because here comes a spoiler, but...
Mars is the main character. :)
The third novel has relatively little action in it, but that's okay.
There's a new constitution being hammered out for the fascinating experimental political parts, new customs as both time and the planet changes radically with the terraforming, and the influence Mars has on a massively overpopulated Earth being driven crazy by the new life-prolonging treatments. (Designed and exported from Mars.)
I squealed like a little fanboy with the endless wordcount of the science, from the physics of brain chemistry at the quantum level to the terraforming of Mercury and Venus and some of the bigger moons out by the gassy ones. :)
What COULD be considered a negative to the novel was actually its biggest strength. Let me explain...
This is about old people. Senescence. You could take it as a metaphor if you like, Old Blue Earth vs New Mars, memories versus living in the present, or even White versus Red thinking (It's a Thing).
It's also about synthesis. As in alchemy. Mars is both its pristine red past and its new living, ocean-filled, green, boat laden glory. So are we. We're our memories, our hopes for the future, be it science, children, or ourselves, AND we are our present. Live your life, quick, the promise of immortality is an illusion. :)
I will never call this novel a great one in terms of plot or characters, though I really grew to love Sax and Ann, our embodiments of White and Red thinking, by the end. Everyone else, nascent gods supplanting their titan parents, were amusing and fascinating, but in the end, unnecessary... EXCEPT for the character of world-building, science, the collective unconscious, the zeitgeist, the evolving thought, and the evolving planet.
It's a sprawling jazz-filled explosion of life and erosion of time, water, and memory.
At least, that's how I see it. :)
If this novel had been presented today as a Hugo winner, I probably would have declined to nominate it, but for the time this won in '97, as well as the other two Mars novels, it was a revelation.
Most other SF is weaksauce compared to the science and exploration of science in these novels. Truth is truth. All this glorious science doesn't always make for a good STORY, but the story was good enough to showcase a polymath brilliance spanning ethics, psychology, politics, terraforming, biology, quantum physics, and even the meaning of life.
Come on. CREDIT WHERE CREDIT IS DUE. :) :) :)
View all my reviews