Categorization: Scifi, Space, Political, Science Heavy
Length: 572 Pages | Mass Market Paperback
Plans to Continue: Not Any Time Soon
Okay...so... I read this book on and off for 4 months before I finally decided to power through the last 200 pages in one sitting. This book is DENSE. It's long, it's wordy, it's techy, it's descriptive, and at times it was exhausting, but in the end, it all came together and was well worth the time. The reason I have not continued with the series is because it is a genre which I rarely reach for.
The story itself could seem bleak in the sense that it's about colonizing 'red mars', a frozen, inhospitable, landscape. The bulk of the description and story is concentrated around high tech or barren landscape, so I can see how readers get lost along the way.
The aspect of the story which kept me reading was the social obstacles the characters face. A reflection of society in general. The human interest displayed by individuals, as well as, corporations, nationalities, governments, alliances, and police forces. Everyone has their own agenda, and it makes it very hard to do good work. Robinson tackles issues such as the media, environment, population growth, genetic modification, rogue communities & the devastation of revolution.
As the realization sets in that the money lenders back home are expecting a big return, the main characters find themselves having to pick sides in these immense issues. It becomes nearly impossible to protect Mars, and even themselves, from the interests of an Earth in crisis.
Kim Stanley Robinson is obviously an incredibly intelligent and informed man because there were plenty of lines which I highlighted as I read. Here's three quotes that capture some of his insight on human nature, and our increasingly conflicted global society, that don't give away the story.
Commentary on the creating a truly new life:
"They would work for that life anywhere, because to them it was the life that mattered, not a flag or a creed or a set of words, nor even that small rocky patch of land they owned on Earth. The Swiss road building crew back there was Martian already, having brought the life and left the baggage behind."
Commentary on money and the idolization of money:
"The weakness of businessmen was their belief that money was the point of the game; they worked 14hr days in order to earn enough of it to buy cars with leather interiors, they thought it was a sensible recreation to play around with it in casinos--idiots, in short. But useful idiots."
Commentary on the world stage:
"Little wars like match heads were flaring everywhere. India and Pakistan had used nuclear weapons in Kashmir. Africa was dying, and the North bickered over who should help first.