Book review: Red Mars

Red Mars (Kim Stanley Robinson)

Red Mars (by Kim Stanley Robinson) is a “hard” science fiction novel about a human settlement on Mars. The novel spends a lot of time exploring the science and technology that would be required to travel to Mars and establish a permanent human settlement.

While the tech aspect of the novel is well done, that’s not what makes this an interesting book. The novel follows on the  the initial settlers of Mars, a population of one hundred humans. These individuals are well drawn, and the tension between them is used to discuss a swag of interesting issues.

Starting out with a mostly clean slate, and far from Earth and its baggage, the settlers have some scope to design their own utopia. The settlers break into small, village sized groups – some nomadic – and they are portrayed as happy with this return to an independent, wandering lifestyle with a direct focus on exploration and survival.

The ethics of human modification of the Martian climate are examined, a discussion incredibly relevant to the contemporary Earth. The discussion is sweeping; economics and philosophy, the construction and assignment of “value”.

This book is an interesting read, and I recommend reading it. My only criticism is that it’s longer than it needs to be – but it’s worth the slog.

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4 Responses to Book review: Red Mars

  1. Fivepence says:

    Oh, I loved this novel! As you say, it’s more political philosophy than scifi but still has all the zero gravity s_x scenes & minute space suit detail you’d expect. The rest of the trilogy lost me a little, I just didn’t have the strength for three books of this length. But worth giving them a go. Thanks for reminding me of them!

    • Mm, I’m just eyeing them off too! I’ve become really keen on short-and-sweet novels lately, so I think I’ll take a break before the next one. Book depository does have them quite cheap though, hmm!

      • James says:

        I’ve read all three, and I was actually a little disappointed in what was omitted, but that says more about the huge scale of what the books attempt to cover.

      • What would you say was missing specifically?

        One thing I missed was a description of where they were getting food from – the existence of farms, etc is mentioned but they seem to quite rapidly have a diverse supply of different foods that they can quite casually acquire.

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