Red Mars - Kim Stanley Robinson - New
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The Mars trilogy is a series of award-winning science fiction novels by Kim Stanley Robinson, chronicling the settlement and terraforming of the planet Mars through the intensely personal and detailed viewpoints of a wide variety of characters spanning several centuries. Ultimately more utopian than dystopian, the story focuses on egalitarian, sociological, and scientific advances made on Mars, while Earth suffered from overpopulation and ecological disaster.
The three novels are Red Mars (1992), Green Mars (1993) and Blue Mars (1996). An additional collection of short stories and background information was published as The Martians (1999). The main trilogy won a number of prestigeous awards.
Red Mars - Colonisation
Red Mars starts in 2026 with the first colonial voyage to Mars, a crew of the "First Hundred" colonists, composed for the most part of Russians and Americans. The book details the construction of the first settlement on Mars, called "Underhill". A debate among the colonists breaks out about the advisability of terraforming the planet, focusing on the two extreme views personified by Saxifrage "Sax" Russell who believes their very presence on the planet means some level of terraforming has already begun and it should be continued, a viewpoint held by "the Greens", and Ann Clayborne who represents "the Reds" viewpoint that mankind does not have the right to change entire planets at their will and Mars should be left in its original state. Hiroko Ai represents a middle ground, believing that a new way of living could evolve on Mars, a philosophy referred to as "Areophany".
The Greens eventually win out, through direct intervention in some cases, and the first steps to terraforming Mars start during the book. At the same time, new towns are developed across the planet, increasingly "open" as new technologies and materials allow pressure to be contained in new ways. However, due to the greed of the transnational corporations which come to dominate and control the nation states of Earth, the new Martian towns become overcrowded and undermaintained. Several cases of sabotage of terraformation infrastructure occur, blamed on anti-terraforming forces. The situation results in a violent revolution in 2061, in which many of the First Hundred are killed, and much of Mars' infrastructure, notably the space elevator, and Phobos, are destroyed. Most of the surviving members of the First Hundred are forced into hiding in the "underground", in this case a literal underground shelter created by Hiroko Ai under the Martian south pole.
Green Mars - Terraforming
Green Mars takes its title from the stage of terraforming that has taken place allowing plants to grow. It picks up the story from Red Mars, following the lives of the remaining First Hundred (and their children and grandchildren). Hiroko Ai's base under the south pole is attacked by UN forces and the survivors are forced to escape into a less literal underground known as the "demimonde". Among the expanded group are the First Hundred's children, the nisei, a number of whom live in Ai's second secret base, Zygote.
As unrest in the multinational control over Mars' affairs grow, various groups start to form with different aims and methods. Watching these groups evolve from Earth, the CEO of Praxis Corporation sends his representative, Arthur Randolph, to organize the resistance movements. This culminates into the Dorsa Brevia agreement, in which nearly all the underground factions take part. Preparations are made for a second revolution beginning in the 2120s.
The book follows the characters across the martian landscape, which is explained in detail. As Sax Russell's character infiltrates the transnat terraforming project, the newly evolving martian biosphere is described at great length. A mainstay of the novel is a detailed analysis of philosophical, political, economical, and geological experiences of the characters. The story weaves back and forth from character to character, providing a picture of Mars as seen by them.
Blue Mars - Long-Term results
Blue Mars takes its title from the stage of terraforming that has taken place allowing atmospheric pressure and temperature to increase so that liquid water can exist on the planet's surface, forming rivers and seas. It follows on from the end of Green Mars and has a much wider scope than the previous two books, covering an entire century after the second revolution and showing the spread of human settlements across the solar system — a process Robinson terms the Accelerando. One major event is a sudden, catastrophic rise in Earth's global sea levels, caused not by any greenhouse effect, but by the eruption of a chain of volcanoes underneath the ice of west Antarctica, disintegrating the ice sheet and displacing the fragments into the ocean.
The Martians - Short stories
The Martians is a collection of short stories that takes place over the timespan of the original trilogy of novels, as well as some stories that take place in an alternate version of the novels where the First Hundred's mission was one of exploration rather than colonization. Buried in the stories are several hints about the eventual fate of the Martian terraforming program.
The author, Kim Stanley Robinson, uses a third person perspective throughout the entire series. We follow a multitude of characters who see the plot from different angles. This gives the reader a broad picture of the developments in the novels. The chapters are separated by "Arch" chapters which mark off the character the reader follows.
Another interesting aspect to his writing style is the protagonist/antagonist relationships. Because the series spans a period of 200 years, there are multiple characters that hold the title of protagonist. In contrast the antagonist position is only filled by one or two characters (depending on the readers perspective). More so, Robinson introduces a unique perspective on the protagonist/antagonist relationship. The transnational corporations which play an integral role in the series also match each other in this bond. Unlike the individual characters, this relationship lasts through all three books.
Robinson also does not just use the standard plot graph of build up, climax, and conclusion. The books delve into much more than one plot, each with its own time line and conclusion. But all of these fall under the great umbrella that defines the Mars Trilogy - the colonization of Mars. Such an example of this is relationships between characters in which end abruptly, only to be touched upon again much later in the story as a 'side note', but sufficiently reminds the reader that it did play a part in the development of the character.
Red Mars - Kim Stanley Robinson - New
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