Green Mars by Kim Stanley Robinson
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Green Mars is, unfortunately, a bit dated.
The science is still freaking awesome and the sheer amount of cutting edge technology, be it biology, the physical sciences, the sheer insanity of terraforming a whole planet... still blows me away. Some of my favorite parts, or, indeed, *most* of my favorite parts, are the scientific expositions, ruminations, digressions, and especially the plot developments and twists that come from the science!
Where I have a little issue is where I had a little issue in Red Mars. It's the people. I don't really mind all the drug use or sex addiction or all the little social explorations when it comes to these brothers from another mother (world), but there *is* an awful lot of seemingly pointless, (if otherwise presented in a non-SF novel, rather decent) characterization and character studies that seem to go nowhere. Too much Phyllis and Maya, to be honest.
It's not true for all of them, of course. I love Nirgal (but not Jackie), Sax, and Art. It's really a toss-up between Sax and Nirgal, though. Nadia was nice to see, however. :)
And that leads us to the main focus of the novel. At first, I thought it was going to be mostly about a pristine Mars versus a terraformed one, but it wasn't to be. It's about Mars versus Earth.
It always was going to be this. It's kinda obvious, isn't it? :) Revolution!!! No more dictating terms, unlimited immigration, police forces, policies that can't really be enforced over THIS much distance! And then, of course, there's the other big snag.
Prolonged life. Overpopulation. Near immortality aside from all the degraded mental acuity and memory loss. :) The Earth is in deep shit. And it looks at Mars as a bolt-hole.
Now, aside from my personal complaints about too much character-study time, I have no doubt in my mind that this trilogy is STILL one of the greatest Mars books ever written. I did knock off a star and boot it from my top 100 list of all time, however.
I just don't have that much patience for characterizations that don't directly result in a better overall story or that don't affect the outcome of the plot substantially. A little or even a middle amount of it is no problem, but when all the awesome is skewed toward the science and the action and especially to the breakout emotional scene near the end where all those people hike it across the sands of Mars? Well, that stuff is absolutely brilliant and heartwarming and beautiful and whoop-out-loud amazing!
Comparing the character stuff to that... doesn't cut it.
A lesser novel could have rested on the character stuff. This is one of the most well-thought-out and scientifically researched Mars colonization novels ever. It shouldn't have to suffer from any side weakness... even though it does.
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