Sunday, June 14, 2009

Book 27: Red Mars by Kim Stanley Robinson

Red Mars by Kim Stanley Robinson


How it was obtained:
I traded in a ton of used books at a used book store before we left Columbia. This is one of the books I got in exchange for super cheap.

Time spent on the "to read" shelf:
3 years.

Days spent reading it:
3 weeks.

Why I read it:
I love science fiction. I like the idea of colonizing Mars. This book won the Nebula award in 1993 (very prestigious SF awards). So I imagined I would like it.

Brief review:
Red Mars is a novel about colonizing and terraforming Mars. It deals with all the facets of colonizing another planet: scientific, political, personal, nature, business, and government, amongst others. It also theorizes on the consequences of that transformation.

I picked up Red Mars not really knowing what to expect. I was blown away by Kim Robinson's (a man, by the way) grasp of the technical elements of space travel and colonization. I would not say that the technical side gets too heavy except occasionally. Robinson's sheer knowledge of the technical side of space colonization is dumbfounding. He certainly did his homework before writing this novel. I would not be surprised if he actually traveled to Mars! It was so realistic at points.

My only complaint about this novel was that it was actually very slow reading. It took me almost twice as long to read a page than it normal does. Which meant this novel took some real time to finish. And I could only take it in smaller chunks (50 pages or so at a time).

The characters in the novel are fantastic. They are all a little messed up. You spend a lot of time with a few of the first 100 (the first 100 to travel to Mars). They all have their different take on what colonizing Mars should mean for them and the nations they represent (or the planet they represent as they settle Mars). The political elements of this book were very fascinating. The business elements of this book (talking about transnational businesses, etc) was confusing to me, but I understand nothing about big companies. Somebody out there probably appreciates what I could not even fathom.

Overall I thought this book was great, but probably not for anyone who is not really interested in sci-fi or colonization. The technical side of it alone will slow the reading to a crawl, but the ideas are entirely worth the time. I thought I might not be interested enough to read the other two in the trilogy, but after finishing Red Mars I am ready to start Green Mars (once I get through this list of course!).

Favorite quote:
"Frank Chalmers made his way through them , feeling their stares, moving without thought toward them, feeling their stares, moving without thought toward the platform at the top of town; and as he walked he said to himself, Now we'll see what I can do with this planet." (Its not a great quote out of context, but in the midst of the chapter, it was amazing).

4 out of 5.

Final Word:

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