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.