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Icehenge Paperback – May 15, 1998

48 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews Review

Voted one of the best science fiction novels of the year in the 1985 Locus Poll, Icehenge is an early novel by Kim Stanley Robinson (author of the trilogy comprising Red Mars, Green Mars, and Blue Mars) and takes place in the same universe. The story is part mystery and part psychological drama, divided into three distinct sections.

In the year 2248, Mars is ruled by a Politburo-like committee that actively discourages dissent as well as travel and exploration of other planets. Scientist Emma Weil becomes involved in a covert plot to convert a stolen ship into a self-supporting spaceship. She turns down a chance to accompany the starfarers, and returns to her beloved Mars where she joins the revolution already in progress.

Three centuries later, archaeologist Hjalmar Nederland unearths a governmental cover-up of the true facts behind the old revolution. At the same time, a Stonehenge-like monument is discovered on the north pole of Pluto, and Nederland sets out to prove his theory that the monument is connected to revolutionaries and their contemporaries who left for the stars. Seventy years later, his great-grandson Edmond Doya becomes convinced that Icehenge is a hoax, and attempts to disprove Nederland's theory.

In addition to futuristic issues such as interstellar travel and the terraforming of Mars, Robinson's characters grapple with politics, careers, families, and aging. Icehenge is a worthy introduction to the author's winning combination of hard science and believable characterization. --Bonnie Bouman


Unforgettable. (The Baltimore Sun)

In a genre not often distinguished by strong characterization, Robinson is a welcome exception. Yet even the memorable community of his The Wild Shore did not prepare us for this brilliant triptych in which the monolithic artifact of the title and the events surrounding it are described and examined from widely different points of view. The distinct, personal voices of the narratives, as they construct and deconstruct their elegant theories, are a pleasure rare in SF. (Publishers Weekly)

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Orb Books; New edition edition (May 15, 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0312866097
  • ISBN-13: 978-0312866099
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.6 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.5 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (48 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #689,022 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Kim Stanley Robinson is a winner of the Hugo, Nebula, and Locus Awards. He is the author of eleven previous books, including the bestselling Mars trilogy and the critically acclaimed Fifty Degrees Below, Forty Signs of Rain, The Years of Rice and Salt, and Antarctica--for which he was sent to the Antarctic by the U.S. National Science Foundation as part of their Antarctic Artists and Writers' Program. He lives in Davis, California.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

20 of 21 people found the following review helpful By Michael Battaglia on January 20, 2002
Format: Paperback
Kim Stanley Robinson debuted with this book and The Wild Shore practically in the same year, something that doesn't happen too often. Even rarer, it turns out that both book are key works of the authors and deserved to be read years after they were first published. The Wild Shore gets most of the glory because it's slightly better and part of a trilogy (all three of which are highly recommended) and also because it's less "SFish" than Icehenge. Icehenge has a similar structure as Asimov's The Gods Themselves in that the book is made of three distinct pieces with three distinct characters who all further the plot without ever meeting . . . sort of. There is some crossing of stories here, but not directly, but Robinson's charactizations are what shine through. All of the parts are written in the first person and each character has an individual voice, uniquely showing different views of a future society where life is good but not great, where you can live for hundreds of years but forget about the place where you were born. The plot partially concerns some monoliths (shades of 2001!) being found on Pluto, with the pervading theory that they were built by humans . . . the only question is by who and why. The first story sets up everything else and might give clues into what happened but the other two sections are what deal with the formations proper. The first guy has one theory, his great-grandson years later has a totally different one and both go about proving them. In the end though it's impossible to say and this is a book that will have you considering a lot of aspects of the plot long after you've put it done. Robinson didn't take the easy way out and give a neatly pat ending, which some readers may not be too fond of. But considering the themes of the book, of memory loss and forgetting the past, it fits in perfectly. It's not his best book but if you've enjoyed anything else he's written there's no reason why you shouldn't give this a shot.
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Anthony D. Wright on September 2, 2006
Format: Paperback
OK, I know this book was published before the Mars Trilogy (Red Mars, Green Mars, Blue Mars) and before "The Martians" but it was the last of the Mars books I read. This book brought Robinson's whole Mars reality back vividly into my mind.

I don't know if I would have enjoyed this book as much as I did had I not read the Mars trilogy first. Having the background of the trilogy allowed me to focus on the story unfolding in this book.

If you like Robinson's examination of society through the fiction that he writes then you will like this book.

The aspect of the book I found most enjoyable is its examination of how history is created and how a search of facts and historical objects can lead to many different interpretations of the same data. The book seems to me to be saying that we can't ever truly know what happened in the past; we can only examine the available information and take a guess. We should never forget that the victors make the history whether they were in the right or not.

The book itself is a triptych surrounding the creation of a monument near the north pole of Pluto. It is set in the future in the same fictional universe as the Mars trilogy and The Martians. I'd say it is most like The Martians in that it is a collection of three short stories that all deal with the same theme and build one upon the others. Each of the three stories could be taken individually and be interesting but they are related and the relationship between them is what gives this book it's unique quality. In the first part of the triptych Robinson provides an account of events in the form of a journal written by one character. In the reading of this journal one identifies with the character writing it and in a sense becomes her friend.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful By David J. Huber VINE VOICE on September 13, 2000
Format: Paperback
My thoughts on Icehenge are difficult to gather - it's a gripping story, a page-turner. Page-turner-ness is an important criterion for any book to rated highly. However, even though I loved reading the book, and hated when I had to pause, I am still left somewhat empty after reading it, because ultimately, it doesn't get across what I think the author wanted to get across to us - which is the vagaries of historical research, and how human fallability, and human ego, especially as they are enhanced by a human life-span that has reached the 600 year range, interferes with our ability to ever accurately reconstruct the past, no matter how advanced our scientific archeological technology might progress.
The story takes place in three different times, all after we have colonized Mars. The first part is the Mars rebellion of 2248, told from the point of view of a woman who ended up hijacked by a rebellious faction who were planning on going out of the solar system to escape the dreaded corporate committee that rules Mars. The second part takes place a few hundred years later, and involves the discovery of "Icehenge", a stonehenge-like construction of ice on Pluto, with a sanskrit inscription and a date of 2248. The main character of this section is an archeologist who reconstructs through "scientific" means that the group of rebels from part I made icehenge on their way out of the solar system.
The third part of the story is a few hundred years after the second, and involves a main character who does a lot of research and ends up being able to go to Pluto, and then "substantively" proves that icehenge could not possibly have been built by the rebel group, since it must be relatively recently constructed.
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