Book Review: Red Mars (Mars Trilogy #1) by Kim Stanley Robinson

Red Mars by Kim Stanley Robinson
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Publisher:  Spectra

Summary:   In his most ambitious project to date, award-winning author Kim Stanley Robinson utilizes years of research & cutting-edge science in the 1st of a trilogy chronicling the colonization of Mars: For eons, sandstorms have swept the desolate landscape. For centuries, Mars has beckoned humans to conquer its hostile climate. Now, in 2026, a group of 100 colonists is about to fulfill that destiny. John Boone, Maya Toitavna, Frank Chalmers & Arkady Bogdanov lead a terraforming mission. For some, Mars will become a passion driving them to daring acts of courage & madness. For others it offers an opportunity to strip the planet of its riches. For the genetic alchemists, it presents a chance to create a biomedical miracle, a breakthrough that could change all we know about life & death. The colonists orbit giant satellite mirrors to reflect light to the surface. Black dust sprinkled on the polar caps will capture warmth. Massive tunnels, kilometers deep, will be drilled into the mantle to create stupendous vents of hot gases. Against this backdrop of epic upheaval, rivalries, loves & friendships will form & fall to pieces--for there are those who will fight to the death to prevent Mars from ever being changed.

I've had this Mars trilogy on my TBR pile for a while & have had the books waiting for me so, it being summer, I decided to get to the first. I enjoyed following the main characters from the first 100 but I can't say that I particularly liked any of them. I enjoyed watching what motivated them especially when it came to the treaty negotiations in the final thirds of the book. The question of who and how a group is governed and managed plays throughout the book and with Earth in an ever tenuous situation, there's no way this is going to end politely or simply. In fact, things take a deadly turn before this ends and what comes next is in flux. Also, seeing new religious traditions take shape on Mars alongside those who've retained the faith and worship traditions they had when they were on Earth was interesting and well done.

For me the book was best in the first and last thirds, the middle just felt unnecessarily ponderous and meandering. There was far too much time spent on the John/Maya/Frank ever shifting love triangle. They were,, none of them rendered so deeply as multifaceted characters to make it worth that much attention and it didn't influence or steer the real political and economic situation on Mars, so seriously, who cares? If I'm honest, I'm kinda looking forward to the next book because I won't have to be bothered with some of the main First 100. Most were as irritating as they were interesting and I'm just ready to meet some new people and see them take up the cause. The only one of the group that I wanted to see more of remained seriously remote and elusive most of this book but she finally showed up at the last page. The ending really gave me hope.

I'll definitely read the next because it feels like it's just getting to what has most got my interest. I'm looking forward to see the next generation get into the game as their only home has ever been Mars and I hope to see more of Earth's push. The corporations gambit and the response to it have altered the entire planet so, very interesting times. Recommended for fans of colonization science fiction.

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