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Red Mars

(Mars Trilogy #1)

3.85  ·  Rating details ·  58,859 ratings  ·  2,839 reviews
In his most ambitious project to date, award-winning author Kim Stanley Robinson utilizes years of research and cutting-edge science in the first of three novels that will chronicle the colonization of Mars. for eons, sandstorms have swept the barren desolate landscape of the red planet. For centuries, Mars has beckoned to mankind to come and conquer its hostile climate. N ...more
Paperback, 671 pages
Published July 1st 2009 by Voyager (first published 1992)
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Rodzilla Hmm, I found Rama much better. The science in the Mars trilogy is fantastic (I'm a science professor, so...). But the plot and characters never drew…moreHmm, I found Rama much better. The science in the Mars trilogy is fantastic (I'm a science professor, so...). But the plot and characters never drew me in. Frankly, the characters were remarkably unstable and annoying, and the plot was annoying as well.

But I wouldn't read the Rama sequels. They aren't really Clarke books anyway. And there's nothing wrong with a book ending without everything answers (which is what happens in Rama).(less)
Keith Yes it definitely has a plot, fundamentally one of human conflict about the future vision for Mars. It's told from the perspective of half a dozen or…moreYes it definitely has a plot, fundamentally one of human conflict about the future vision for Mars. It's told from the perspective of half a dozen or so of the "First 100" settlers. The book is admittedly quite heavy on science and evocative descriptions of the Martian landscape, and this varies by character: a couple of the characters spend a lot of time traveling about, but it's no travelogue.(less)
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3.85  · 
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 ·  58,859 ratings  ·  2,839 reviews

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Jun 03, 2008 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: science-fiction
I just finished reading this for the second or third time. I wish I could bump this up to 3.5 stars, which more reflects what I feel about it.

To begin with, I should come forward with my biases. This is a book you'll either love or you will hate. For my part, I love the planet Mars. Or at least, I love the idea of the planet Mars, because I've never been there. I'd love to go though. If someone from NASA told me that I could go to Mars, and there was only a 50/50 chance I'd survive, I'd be like
Apr 27, 2008 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: hated-it
I found this book to be intensely frustrating, because I had such a love-hate relationship with it. On one hand, I was fascinated to learn all about the colonization of Mars, the various technologies used, and I really loved seeing what the scientists came up with to develop the planet. Likewise, I enjoyed reading about the experience of exploring the planet's surface and learning about it's unique geography. The landscape descriptions are breathtaking.

It's such a shame that I hated just about

Christmas 2010: I realised that I had got stuck in a rut. I was re-reading old favourites again and again, waiting for a few trusted authors to release new works. Something had to be done.

On the spur of the moment I set myself a challenge, to read every book to have won the Locus Sci-Fi award. That’s 35 books, 6 of which I’d previously read, leaving 29 titles by 14 authors who were new to me.

While working through this reading list I got married, went on my honeymoon, switched career and became
Oct 04, 2007 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: hardcore sci-fi heads only
Shelves: sci-fi-fantasy
An extremely detailed and ridiculously well researched novel on the colonization of Mars, this book is absolutely maddening. The characters veer from believable three dimensional humans to weird caricatures and plot devices within a few pages. And the author's exploration of the political implications of a newly habitable planet filled with resources for civilization is at first fascinating and then just boring. At least five or six times someone would yell out "This isn't like the discovery of ...more
Tadiana ✩Night Owl☽
Hard SF novel about the colonization of Mars. An initial group of 100 colonists, men and women, is shipped off from Earth to Mars to try to terraform the planet and make it a better fit for human life. Kim Stanley Robinson explores all of the science involved in doing that, as well as the political collusions and maneuvering involved, and the relationships and psyches of several of the colonists.

This is a well-known and respected SF novel: thoughtful, scientifically-minded and very detailed, if
Henry Avila
Jan 21, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
When primitive man looked up at the heavens wondering what that red light was, during the cold nights, trying to keep warm in the long dark, they told stories around the camp fires, about the mysterious object, the best liars and fables, were remembered and from generation to generation these tales were believed, until modern times. Even at the start of the twentieth century, some astronomers saw canals on the red planet. But progress continues to roll relentlessly, and science catches up and du ...more
Manuel Antão
Jun 03, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2013
If you're into stuff like this, you can read the full review.

Going into this book 20 years later, the feeling I had was one of trepidation. Would the book have stood the test of time?

And the answer is: Unfortunately no.

One of the things that I've noticed almost from the onset was a huge dissonance (I don't remember spotting it 20 years earlier, but now I did): Why plan the mission without firmly establishing at least some sort of general idea about what sort of terraforming might be done?
Instead of re-hashing my own old review (did one at Amazon already yanno), let me offer up this BRILLIANT routine about Jaws 4: The Revenge by the late (and lamentedly so!) Mr. Richard Jeni:

"Have you ever seen a movie where they don't even try to have it make sense, they just slap you in the face with how shitty it is? You're sitting there, and you're going, "Maybe this movie isn't so bad and maybe I'm not wasting my life," and the movie slaps you in the face and goes:

Yes you are.

and you say "Ar
Mar 26, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Re-read! With buddies!

I originally read this way back in the mid-90's and was struck by how brilliant and entertaining it was, of how wide a sweep of characters could bring Mars alive, from inception to travel to the first habitats all the way to the first revolution 30 years down the line.

What I remembered with the most love, however, wasn't the characters. It was the science and the various aspects of making Mars habitable. That, and I just geeked out. I went on to read all the slew of Mars co
Michael Finocchiaro
In the Mars trilogy, Robinson proposes to have us imagine a Mars that is terraformed initially by the First Hundred - 50 woman and 50 men chosen after extensive training in Antarctica. The story is told via third person narratives which each chapter focusing on a particular character in more or less sequential order (with the exception of the first chapter about the events in Nicosia leading to the disaster of 2061). The author does an excellent job of making the story and the characters are rea ...more
Jul 30, 2009 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
As an avid reader of Science Fiction, this book bored me to tears with its utterly one dimensional characters and utterly predictable plot (once one figured out, in the first 50 pages or so, that the characters were entirely linear and incapable of deviation from their preassigned courses). The "climax" is like a tiny pimple of added dimension, which Robinson apparently thinks is somehow highlighted and made more dramatic by the 500 previous pages that scream "Look, I really am this flat!". For ...more
A long time ago in a city far, far away, the end of a friendship began over a disagreement about Star Wars: Attack of the Clones. D--- was so close to the material, so desperate to relive the nostalgia of the original trilogy, so deeply invested, that when we left the theatre and I expressed not just my frustration but my rage at what I'd seen, he took it as a personal insult. A slag of his taste (or what he thought I must have been declaring was his lack thereof). A debate raged between us for ...more
Megan Baxter
May 16, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Red Mars looks at the first waves of emigration to Mars, through the eyes of certain members of the First Hundred, the original settlers. The world Kim Stanley Robinson paints is complex, filtered through the perceptions of different people, the politics intense and contentious, even the debate over terraforming itself is depicted with lively wrangling.

Note: The rest of this review has been withdrawn due to the recent changes in Goodreads policy and enforcement. You can read why I came to this d
Apr 17, 2011 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sci-fi, gave-up-on
As a matter of principle, I try not to review books that I don't finish. After nearly 300 pages of agony, however, I've decided to make an exception to that rule. I can't finish this book, but I can warn others not to read it. It's the least I can do.

In terms of plot and story, this book isn't *that* bad, and if that's all that was wrong with it I'd give it 2-3 stars. It's the type of sci-fi story that wins awards not because the story is any good, but because of how meticulously researched it i
5.0 to 5.5 stars. It has been said before but it bears repeating...this is the BEST NOVEL on the colonization of Mars that has ever been written. For all of the technical informaiton conveyed and the "hard science" employed, the book is amazingly readable and the characters are very well drawn.

Winner: Nebula Award for Best Science Fiction Novel (1994)
Winner: British Science Fiction Award for Best Novel (1993)
Nominee: Hugo Award for Best Science Fiction Novel (1993)
Nominee: Arthur C. Clarke Awar
Rachel (Kalanadi)
This was SO good! This is epic hard sci fi, where everything is large scale. It never lagged, I was always interested in each character and part of the story, and the final third was intense, exciting, and emotional. I can't wait for Green Mars!
Kim Stanley Robinson's Mars trilogy is well-regarded by SF fans, but it didn't really live up to the hype for me, though it's an excellent entry in the hard SF genre. Robinson's prose is not as lyrical as Ray Bradbury's, but it's not as dry as Ben Bova's either. Red Mars seems to synthesize elements from all of Robinson's predecessors — it's a Heinleinesque adventure at times, with hard SF infodumps, but actual characters, and shout-outs to every author who's ever touched Mars, including Burroug ...more
Dec 27, 2007 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Powell's used book buyers
Shelves: action-adventure
Some interesting plot events (the space elevator, its destruction, the interplay between Earth and its "colony", some of the practical concerns about living on Mars [but not bathrooms]) cannot paper over the enormity of this book's mediocrity. Consistently boring word choice, ideas that get argued but not connected, looong descriptions of landscape that add nothing to the story, regular use of the run-on sentence and a general use of 10 words when one will do (JK Rowlings's editor...?). Only the ...more
Otis Chandler
Feb 01, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Otis by: Jeff C. Kunins
Shelves: sci-fi, fiction, space
What an amazing, sprawling, realistic book. If we ever do populate Mars, I think this book will feel like a realistic blueprint of how it might go, complete with technology that is applied, inter personal dynamics, politics, and more. Earth is of course over-populated, pushing over 10M people, and so the space of Mars is appealing and we send a ship to start to populate it. By the end of the book, there are many, many people on Mars, all living in bubble cities. The book moves around in who the ...more
Jun 01, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I have just returned from Mars.

Well, I haven't of course but it feels a little like that. I feel like I have been one of the pioneer colonists struggling to tame Mars for posterity. That is how immersive this book can be, though it is not actually quite so engrossing throughout every page but even to attain that level of engrossment at times is a significant achievement by the author.

I believe this is one of the most popular sf series ever, I have certainly seen it in many "best of" lists, each
Apr 24, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is one of those scifi works that almost everybody has at least heard of, if not read. In my everlasting quest to read such "classics" and spurred by having read about Elon Musk and his plans for colonizing Mars, I couldn't help but pick this up.

The book starts in the future when cities have already been erected on Mars and people are emmigrating there. There's a murder plot underfoot, the motive of which gets explained afterwards by a jump back in time to how the first 100 engineers and sci
Nov 07, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sci-fi
Kim Stanley Robinson has written one of the best hard sci-fi books I've read in a long time. It is all about the human colonization and habitation on Mars. It is a wonderful mix of science and political science, which is a rare combination in most sci-fi books.

Red Mars is a story that takes place over several decades. It starts with the first Hundred scientists who are the first ones to land on Mars. The mix of sciences run the entire gamut. This is not a story with Star Destroyers or Vulcans or
Charles Dee Mitchell
The last long science fiction I read was Dune the year it came out. Then a long period of no science fiction, and in the past year a return to the genre. And one thing I have liked about the mid-century sf I have been reading is its low page count. Most of these guys, and so far I have read only guys, get the story done in under 300 pages. And I really go for the ones that clock in at around 180. There's a good idea, the story moves fast, outrageous things can happen but the story can also be qu ...more
Jun 30, 2007 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: scifi-fantasy
I debated between a 3 and 4 on this book. The whole time I was reading the series, I was fascinated and bored at the same time. Kim Stanley Robinson gives a very realistic picture of the colonization of Mars beginning with the first hundred scientists, engineers, and other specialists who were selected to live on Mars. Everything from his descriptions of the clouds to his formula for transforming the atmosphere into something breathable are very accurate based on available information, and it wa ...more
A “hard” science fiction book which takes the reader to Mars with the First Hundred settlers, tasked with making the planet livable for humans. There’s a lot of science in this one, folks, and not presented in Andy Weir’s humorous fashion as in The Martian. There were actually a couple of equations and diagrams, so if that kind of stuff gives you a rash, strike this book from your TBR.

Now, I’m generally a preferential fantasy reader, but I’m also a fan of science fiction, even occasionally this
Red Mars deserves a place in the American literary canon, and not as an exemplar of "hard SF," scifi's most pocket-protected sub-genre, but as a compelling, substantive text that has something distinctive to say about life in the present and, perhaps, about being American. Let me fail to explain:


Much as I detest "X is the new Y" comparisons and describing anything as "like Yelp for dogs" etc, Kim Stanley Robinson might be science fiction's George Elliot. Minute in attention, b
Jason Pettus
DID NOT FINISH. Despite being written in the relatively recent 1990s, many science-fiction fans consider Kim Stanley Robinson's "Mars" trilogy to be some of the most important books ever written in the genre's history, three books that chronicle the first thousand years of humans colonizing the red planet, starting with the touchdown of the first explorers and finishing with the complete terraforming of the environment into an Earth-like atmosphere and green-covered landscape. And that's why I'v ...more
Jun 04, 2015 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I hated this book. Here's why.

Endless, pointless, exasperating, excruciating descriptions of Mars. Fissures, mesas, volcanoes, canyons, north of the Fossae, south of the Mons, left at the mohole, orange red yellow pink -- NO ONE CARES. Red Mars taught me, more effectively than any other book I can remember, that detailed description of a place your readers have never been does not serve to make it more real. It serves to bore the pants off of them. And Robinson, bless his heart, just goes on and
Aug 22, 2014 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sci-fi
DNF @ 50%
Feb 11, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sf

Red Mars is a big book in many ways. The first of a trilogy it imagines the first few decades of colonisation of Mars. It's a well thought out book taking into account the complexity of politics and religions that shape our life on Earth and how these divisions in human society will also affect life on Mars. Can I also whisper that I also found it just a little bit boring and slow in places. Not because of the detail that Robinson goes into describing the colonisation process, the geography and
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Kim Stanley Robinson is an American science fiction writer, probably best known for his award-winning Mars trilogy.

His work delves into ecological and sociological themes regularly, and many of his novels appear to be the direct result of his own scientific fascinations, such as the 15 years of research and lifelong fascination with Mars which culminated in his most famous work. He has, due to his

Other books in the series

Mars Trilogy (3 books)
  • Green Mars (Mars Trilogy, #2)
  • Blue Mars (Mars Trilogy, #3)
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