I rated Red Mars 3-stars. I don't know if this is actually two stars better or if my tastes have changed, but I thoroughly enjoyed this. Maybe the ethI rated Red Mars 3-stars. I don't know if this is actually two stars better or if my tastes have changed, but I thoroughly enjoyed this. Maybe the ethics of terra-forming get more interesting the further along you go. I also feel like we didn't have to tolerate as many extremist views (Ann Clayborne, Hiroko) in this one without adequate rational counterpoints.
This is like the Moby Dick of science fiction. It's a long, occasionally dry adventure, and it's comprehensive as hell. Like Moby Dick, some of the science has become outdated but, unlike Moby Dick, the science is rooted in reality and is still workable with minor tweaks.
The scope of this is truly impressive. It's like reading an ethnography, environmental futurism, multiple political manifestos, notes from a hippy commune, scientific ethics, and a love letter to nature all at once.
Of course, there are shortcomings. The characters all blend together, for instance. But Robinson can't be expected to get everything right.
The best science fiction, to my mind, extrapolates from present circumstances. Green Mars does that. We currently have all of our eggs in one basket, and we're continually picking at that basket, all while putting more inside. People laugh if you mention a terra-forming effort, but it's feasible (at least to start) and it ought to be seriously considered as of yesterday. ...more
Not a bad bunch of essays. Given the huge leaps in scientific progress since these were written, you might think a lot of what he writes is dated, butNot a bad bunch of essays. Given the huge leaps in scientific progress since these were written, you might think a lot of what he writes is dated, but as far as I can tell, a lot of it still holds.
I do have to wonder, though, why he bothered with some of it. When I began this book, I was under the impression that he was going to take scientific principles and apply them to speculative concepts, possibly in the form of fiction. What we get instead (mostly toward the beginning of the book) are fairly mundane observations about the nature of gravity and the effect a double sun would have on our solar system. Unless I was missing something, there didn't seem to be much consequence in his musings. It kind of felt like he was rehashing well-established science for his own amusement, but as I am always in need of a refresher course, I was happy to go along.
The better essays, I thought, were those in which he discussed man's effect on nature (global warming), the advantage of habitually doubting new scientific concepts, and the raging anti-intellectualism (still going strong)in the U.S.A. There are also a few nice speculative bits in here about the future space-tourism industry and how we might employ the passing of comets and satellites to make it farther out into space.
It would have been nice to have his insight on things like dark matter and dark energy. I'm sure he would have had a lot to say about those. I wonder if he did get a word or two in on them before he died. As it is (in this book), he sort of latches onto a "something out of nothing" view of creation. I think it's only a matter of time (and not much more time, at that) before that is completely disproven. Not sure where his built-in-doubter was for that particular theory, but he was working with what he had and he can't be blamed for that....more