Complacency haunts me like a warm snuggly deathbed

From Kim Stanley Robinson's Red Mars:

"We're like dwarves in a waldo," Frank said to him angrily. "One of those really big waldo excavators. We're inside it and supposed to be moving a mountain, and instead of using the waldo capabilities we're leaning out of a window and digging with teaspoons. And complimenting each other on the way we're taking advantage of the height."

By the way, can anyone tell me what happens in Blue Mars? I only managed to read half of Green before boredom got the better of me -- I snapped at the twenty-zillionth solemn repetition of the fact that some Martians want a full atmosphere and some only want a few kilometers' worth, and that more endless goddamn discussion on the topic must take place -- but I am kind of curious about what actually happens.

Popularity factor: 6


Mars gradually becomes more habitable. The new Martian state gradually matures. There's a lot of wandering about looking at how things are developing, both on Mars and elsewhere. Old people become forgetful, but then they find a cure for that.

There were moments of action, but I can't remember what they were about. I'm sure I'm missing some of the details - my point is that there isn't that much of an overarching plot. I've read the book twice, you know.

-- Tim May


That's about the way I remember it, but I only read it once, and had to force my way through the final volume. Robinson is an interesting thinker, but not much of a writer, for some values of "writer."

--language hat


Does Earth switch over to the gift economy too, creating a two-world post-capitalist utopian system ready to reach for the rest of the stars?

Yeah, I hadn't read anything by the guy until "Days of Rice and Salt". I liked the idea behind that, and the reincarnation framing device, but I thought the execution was surprisingly flat and blah.


I so feel you. Couldn't get more than twenty or so pages into Green Mars the first time. Took me four years later and being in Japan when the rovers hit Mars last February to go back and read the whole thing from the beginning. It was very worth it though.

The character stories are what hooked me through the second time around. You learn more about Frank, Maya becomes more sympathetic and even likeable by the end, and Anne and Sax reveal themselves to be the central figures in the Trilogy. The ending was satisfying, and that's something for a book that involved.



Yeah, I was a little intrigued by the way Anne and Sax, who basically seem to be black boxes in Red Mars emitting steady streams of passionate conservationism and miraculous technology (respectively), gradually start evolving into real characters. But their interesting scenes were surrounded by so many community meetings and "as you know, Bob, Mars is very cold" exposition that I felt like I was hacking my way through a forest with a machete. Maybe I'll try again when the next NASA mission lands there.


I only read it twice because the first time I'd forgotten most of Green. Unless I read it three times, which is possible.

Does Earth switch over to the gift economy too, creating a two-world post-capitalist utopian system ready to reach for the rest of the stars?

Mmm, yeah, I think so. Something like that. There's definitely some cooperativizing democratic reform within the metanats after the Martian revolution. And they start terraforming other rocky bodies in the solar system, and - oh yeah - they do launch an interstellar ship IIRC.

I thought The Years of Rice and Salt was pretty good where the history followed comprehensibly from the deletion of Europe, but then there were these huge deviations that go on mostly offstage, like what happened in America. Obviously American history would have been different, but that particular path seemed pretty optimistic to me. Not impossible, but needing more detailed explication to be convincing.

--Tim May

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