I won't bore with my assessment when there are more valuable voices in circulation. Arthur Clarke's cover copy is accurate: "a staggering book. The best novel on the colonization of Mars that has ever been written. It should be required reading for the colonists of the next century." Frederic Jameson, Robinson's academic mentor, wrote: "one of those rare moments in which science fiction and the mainstream novel meet, without either one losing its gratifications." The language is rich, the detailed knowledge of the sciences behind the book astounding without coming across as overbearing or textbook in their dryness. An erudition woven throughout, into the smallest observations. For example: "The sun was red in a brown haze, small and round even though it was near setting; there wasn't enough atmosphere for oblation to enlarge and flatten it." Details like this accumulate, giving a deep sensory understanding of the foreignness of every experience; seeing a sunset, adapting to gravity on Mars versus Phobos. Hard science, personality driven literature, ecological metaphor, philosophical novel ... read it how you'd like.