- Hardcover: 500 pages
- Publisher: Collins (21 October 1993)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0246138823
- ISBN-13: 978-0246138828
- Package Dimensions: 23.6 x 15 x 5.4 cm
- Boxed-product Weight: 1 Kg
- Average Customer Review: 1 customer review
Green Mars Hardcover – 21 Oct 1993
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|Hardcover, 21 Oct 1993||
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‘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
Praise for The Mars Trilogy:
‘One of the finest works of American SF’
TIMES LITERARY SUPPLEMENT
‘The ultimate in future history’
‘Absorbing, impressive, fascinating… Utterly plausible’
‘A staggering book. The best novel on the colonization of Mars that has ever been written’
Arthur C. Clarke
‘Red Mars may simply be the best novel ever written about Mars’
About the Author
Kim Stanley Robinson was born in 1952. After travelling and working around the world, he settled in his beloved California. He is widely regarded as the finest science fiction writer working today, noted as much for the verisimilitude of his characters as the meticulously researched scientific basis of his work. He has won just about every major sf award there is to win and is the author of the massively successful and highly praised ‘Mars’ series.
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As always Robinson is very good in world building, i.e. he can create an imaginary future on Mars that is very well detailed and credible, thanks to his vast imagination and a clear thorough research work. And he does so with a wonderful prose. There are really beautiful passages that deserve to be read regardless of everything else.
Compared to “Red Mars” I read it all in the sense that I have not skipped some parts as had happened to me in the first book (the theoretical disquisitions of psychology, for instance). Since such a book that also has an informative purpose tends to be plagued by some info-dump, I’ve never felt like this, perhaps because the author succeeded in better spread his arguments throughout the text without overloading certain parts, but also because these are topics that I found most interesting and related to the story. But I admit that, although I have read everything, I occasionally got distracted in some passages where in fact nothing happened, but I never lost the thread of the plot.
Nevertheless I could not make myself like this book. The reason is simple: I haven’t identified myself with any character. There wasn’t one that has caught me, and at the same time has maintained a consistent role throughout the book, as had happened with Frank in “Red Mars”. In this sense the enormous leaps in time didn’t help; as soon as I found an interesting character (for example, Arthur), the part abruptly ended and from that point on it became negligible in the economy of story.
The problem is that this book is not made by the characters and neither by a well-crafted plot, but it is an attempt to reconstruct a possible socio-political situation of the future on Mars. The characters, instead of creating the story, are just puppets, as if it were a non-fiction book.
Within the individual parts, moreover, the pace is so slow that you get the impression that nothing happens, and when something happens, it is reported in a manner so as to seem a detached account. Then, moving to the next part, you discover that so much time has passed and what had a prominent role in the early part becomes negligible now. As a reader you feel a bit betrayed by this way of telling, as you tend to project your own feelings, expectations and emotions on the characters and events, only to discover that it all happened without you to know and doesn’t matter anymore.
But let’s get to some aspects of the plot.
In the first book there was the possibility of prolonging the life of the protagonists with some treatments. It is a narrative device that allows to use the same characters for a longer period of time. The problem is that in this second book you find out that the treatments let them live indefinitely. The very idea that the characters don’t have some time reference to measure their life is quite disturbing and contributes to put some distance from them. One wonders what the purpose of life of these people is.
In reading this book it would seem that all the characters are only interested in the situation of Mars (terraforming, independence from the Earth), i.e. everything turns around some big issues, so that it seems that they don’t have a real life, made of small things. The small elements that define the humanity of people are missing. And, when there are some, they are narrated in a didactic way, as if they were secondary. But for real people their own purposes are all that really counts. As much as one can devote to a cause, this cause must come after, otherwise the person becomes a potentially dangerous fanatic. Sure, there are fanatics on Mars too (and indeed some are described as such), but it is not credible that all are like this. In fact, the characters don’t seem real people.
As for the scientific aspect, despite the obvious research done by the author, I have the impression that the process of terraforming described happens a bit too fast and the conditions to accelerate it are too easily created. But this is a minor problem, since it could be a license taken by the author to bring the plot in a certain direction. Besides, it is a trilogy about the terraforming of Mars. It must be said that the partially terraformed Mars, described in this book, in my eyes has lost the charm it had in the first book.
Finally, I hadn’t appreciated the catastrophism at the end of the previous book. We get something similar here, but not as much dramatic. But, while in “Red Mars” the catastrophic event determined the climax of the story and then had his narrative purpose, the tension in “Green Mars” remains low for most of the novel and fails towards the ending to increase as it should.
In short, once I reached the last page, the only word that came to my mind, exhausted by a heavy reading to say the least, was: finally!
Rita Carla Francesca Monticelli, author of Red Desert - Point of No Return
Most helpful customer reviews on Amazon.com
That said, many of the characters are still completely unlikeable and the plot device of “the treatment” is a little overdone (but necessary both to give a cause for civilization collapse on Earth and the recycling of “the 100” on Mars).
The most creative aspect of the story is not the science but rather the sociopolitical: the author depicts a Mars populated by several factions that sometimes cooperate and sometime oppose each other. I do think the character of Art is accepted far too readily by the other characters to be believable. But then again, this is science fiction, not reality.
Showing a world (worlds?) with both men and women, from different/multiple ethnic/national/linguistic backgrounds is the biggest strength of the story. As humanity rapidly approaches the possibility/probability of settling Mars, this scenario is increasingly likely and in that sense the novel poses a scenario of warning.
One last caveat: the print novel really should have been edited for ease of reading on Kindle. The paragraphs are far too long for mobile devices. Also, please please please stop the comma splices and run-on sentences, they are super irritating, it’s very jarring to read, thanks. Argh!
Keep in mind that I did actually read all three books, back to back, in the span of two weeks. That, alone, should let you know that this is a highly favorable review. The story, which spans the course of 200 years, or so, concerns the settlement and terraformation of Mars, and kicks off with the trip of the "First 100", and their initial trials on an inhospitable planet.
There is a lot of speculative science in the book, and occasionally it exists merely to allow the story to progress. But, none of it is so outlandish that it takes the story into the realm of fantasy, and it merely forms a background for the overarching theme of human interactions (between characters, between Earth and Mars cultures) and the people who inhabit the red planet as time goes by.
I enjoyed the stories, marveled at the concepts, and highly recommend the Mars Trilogy as a whole.