Eric_W's Reviews > Red Mars

Red Mars by Kim Stanley Robinson
Rate this book
Clear rating

by
1711431
's review
Dec 28, 2008

really liked it
bookshelves: science-fiction

Stanley Robinson has written a very interesting series of novels (Red Mars, Green Mars, and Blue Mars) that speculate about what would happen should Mars be colonized. I have completed only Red Mars so far, but if the others are as intriguing as the first they will be well worth reading. Truly the book is a political treatise as much as an action science fiction novel. As soon as the first ship lands and the colonists begin to build a base they are bifurcated into two factions: those who would preserve Mars in its pristine, primitive state, and those would want to begin the “” process that would try to recreate an earth-like environment. Both visions have a certain utopian quality to them. Earth has become overpopulated and hopes that Mars will solve some of its mineral scarcity problems. Soon the corporations have begun to dictate policy and by the end of the book a revolution is underway to cut the tie to earth and stop immigration of those looking for a way off the dying Earth. The original “ Hundred” become mythologized and after a treatment to prevent radiation illness turns out to virtually provide an unlimited life-span, they become revered (and feared — several are assassinated) for their supposed wisdom and insight. There is an underlying theme of the paradoxical utopian questions “ is to be done?” and “ have we accomplished?”

The story is told from several points of view and I found that of Nadia Chernyshevsky (most illuminatingly there is a Russian dissident named Chernyshevsky who wrote a volume of utopian fiction from prison entitled What is to Be Done? in the 1860s) the most compelling. She gains enormous satisfaction from the buildings and creations of her problem-solving accomplishments, but she is also sympathetic to the goals of the revolutionaries after it becomes evident how the political and ecological situation has deteriorated. The bad guys are clearly the multinational corporations who create their own security forces to suppress dissent and owe allegiance only to the profit motive. Another appealing character is John Boone (get the allusion?) who wants to build a better social fabric on Mars based on the physical realities of Mars, inevitably a harsh world. He becomes a wandering Socratic proponent of a plan for the new society. His answer is often to create dialogue among the many parties and in the end — nope I won’t tell what happens to him — tries to build a culture.

Robinson speculates throughout on what constitutes nature and speculates through the characters about whether we have an obligation or right to create or model the natural environment for our own purposes.
8 likes · flag

Sign into Goodreads to see if any of your friends have read Red Mars.
Sign In »

Reading Progress

08/19/2016 marked as: read

Comments (showing 1-3 of 3) (3 new)

dateDown arrow    newest »

message 1: by Manny (new)

Manny there is a Russian dissident named Chernyshevsky who wrote a volume of utopian fiction from prison entitled What is to Be Done? in the 1860s

In case you didn't know, Nikolai Chernyshevsky plays a major role in Nabokov's The Gift. I seem to be one of the few people who didn't much like this book...


Eric_W Manny wrote: "there is a Russian dissident named Chernyshevsky who wrote a volume of utopian fiction from prison entitled What is to Be Done? in the 1860s

In case you didn't know, Nikolai Chernyshevsky plays a ..."


Thanks. I shamefacedly must admit to not having read any Nabakov.


message 3: by Manny (new)

Manny In that case, I definitely wouldn't start with The Gift :) Perhaps Bend Sinister is your best entry point? You might want to check it out, anyway...


back to top