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Red Mars Hardcover – January 1, 1993


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 519 pages
  • Publisher: Spectra - Bantam Books (January 1, 1993)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0553092049
  • ISBN-13: 978-0553092042
  • Product Dimensions: 9.1 x 6.3 x 1.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (590 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #461,848 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

The first novel in the astounding trilogy, Red Mars chronicles the lives of the first arrivals to Mars. The planet that the settlers find is empty of life and many of the pioneers want to begin changing the ecosystem right away to be suitable for human life. But the purity of the stark landscape convinces some scientists that it should be preserved. The stakes are high and the players on both sides range from politically naive idealists to ambitious manipulators without discernible scruples. No one can be sure that "terraforming" the planet will succeed, but it is certain to change the face of Mars beyond recognition. Red Mars won the 1994 Nebula Award.

From Publishers Weekly

The first installment in Robinson's ( Blind Geometer ) new trilogy is an action-packed and thoughtful tale of the exploration and settlement of Mars--riven by both personal and ideological conflicts--in the early 21st century. The official leaders of the "first hundred" (initial party of settlers) are American Frank Chalmers and Russian Maya Katarina Toitova, but subgroups break out under the informal guidance of popular favorites like the ebullient Arkady Nikoleyevich Bogdanov, who sets up a base on one of Mars's moons, and the enigmatic Hiroko, who establishes the planet's farm. As the group struggles to secure a foothold on the frigid, barren landscape, friction develops both on Mars and on Earth between those who advocate terraforming, or immediately altering Mars's natural environment to make it more habitable, and those who favor more study of the planet before changes are introduced. The success of the pioneers' venture brings additional settlers to Mars. All too soon, the first hundred find themselves outnumbered by newcomers and caught up in political problems as complex as any found on Earth.
Copyright 1992 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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

About half way through, I found myself increasingly skipping pages to finish the book.
Rob Moses
The characters are interesting and not at all stereotypical, and the plot is well constructed and compelling.
Ananda Gupta
One of the things I love about this book is how much of the Mars geography and geology the author details.
Steffanie

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

329 of 346 people found the following review helpful By "geodesic" on March 14, 2001
Format: Mass Market Paperback
I really enjoyed this trilogy, but readers considering it should probably at least consider the following up front:
* You're gonna be subjected to miles of dialog-free prose, more than I've ever seen in any book that proports to be a novel. If you're into the science, and into visualizing what you read, you'll have no problem. But if you're used to Crichton, forget it. The pace will kill you.
* If you don't already know geology, keep a dictionary handy. He uses 150 geological terms I'd never heard of.
* The book has two main topics: Mars and Politics. Don't expect a thriller.
* There are gaps in the science that you'll have to overlook. He's weak on the biological, but strong on the astrophysical.
* The characters are pretty archetypal, so you'll probably relate to at least one of them. But also, some are, well, pretty darn annoying. But they add to the story anyway if you can stand them.
So given that, if you're not scared off, read it. Read all three. You'll like them, and in the end you'll feel like you know a lot about Mars. It's an epic, and a great one despite its occasional shortcomings.
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208 of 249 people found the following review helpful By Paul E. Harrison on April 3, 2002
Format: Mass Market Paperback Verified Purchase
Nominally a future-history of Martian colonization, Red Mars covers the initial 100 Martian colonists, the influx of workers as corporations attempt to exploit the planet's resources, and the consequences as conditions worsen. The book is divided into eight parts, each telling the story from the point of view of one of six characters. Each character is interesting and three dimensional. The first, Frank Chalmers, is a stunning example - a machiavellian sociopath who arranges the murder of his best friend. The book suggests early on that the characters are dysfunctional, but most are not, and Robinson describes each personality in a way that's easy to relate to. Most readers will see some of themselves in every character, and will be moved when many disappear from the story as events unfurl.
Robinson's prose is easy to read and descriptive. He lovingly describes the Martian landscape, and the events that change the planet. He explains the processes and technologies being used to make the planet more habitable. Mars and its future is viewed through different cultures and ideologies. And Robinson describes political and social systems evolving, growing, and collapsing - the only challenges the colonists seem unable to solve are those that cannot be fixed technologically. The ending is dramatic and, cheesy last line notwithstanding, overwhelming.
A word about the politics: Several reviewers have trouble understanding the concept of sympathetic characters not representing the author. Nobody argues that, through Chalmers, Robinson is advocating murder, so why assume that characters portrayed as idealistic hot-heads advocating an enlightened Utopia (not communism) are attempts to convert readers to Marxism?
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95 of 114 people found the following review helpful By Robert Moore HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on August 16, 2007
Format: Mass Market Paperback
I am just aghast at the number of non-five-star ratings this book has received. The answer probably likes in the sophistication of the particular reviewers who are underrating this masterpiece. I don't want to make this sound arrogant or patronizing, but the great thing about the Internet (and Amazon reviewing) is that anyone can review, while the awful thing about the Internet is that anyone can review. I'm not sure what else one could want out of a Sci-fi novel than what you find here. My guess is that those who dislike it tend to prefer space opera or pure adventure books. But if you have any capacity to read good literature this novel will almost undoubtedly knock your socks off.

RED MARS has been almost universally praised by Sci-fi writers and academics as one of the finest hard science Sci-fi novels in recent decades. Partly as a result of the influence of Philip K. Dick (my favorite Sci-fi writer, but someone who was almost completely uninterested in the "science" in Sci-fi but instead focused on metaphysical dilemmas), STAR TREK, and STAR WARS, Sci-fi has been less and less focused on science in the past few decades and instead has been more concerned with exploring questions like "what is real?" or adventure stories. Time was when the most denigrated form of Sci-fi was the space opera. Robinson's Mars Trilogy is the triumphant return of hard science in novelistic form. But RED MARS is far more than that. It is as political as it is scientific. I can imagine that a few of the people giving the novel low marks are troubled by Robinson's politics, which are further to the left than any prominent politician in America today.
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91 of 112 people found the following review helpful By Steve Jones on March 12, 2003
Format: Mass Market Paperback
The author's breadth of knowledge in science and political theory is impressive, to be sure. Years of research evidently went into this book. But often it seemed he was straining to showcase just how much he knows. The psychiatrist's long esoterica on human temperaments is a case in point -- dry as the Martian soil and entirely gratuitous. (Where was the editor with scissors?)
Initially, I enjoyed the vivid descriptions of the topography and the explanations of how people built the first colony. Beyond the book's halfway point, I was saturated with it -- too much of a good thing. Getting through the last third of the book was a struggle (a coherent plot might have helped here). That disappointed me, because the beginning was engaging.
The characters turned out to be caricatures, not people. How many times could the ultra-grouchy Frank say "shut up" or "you idiot"? And Maya, the Russian beauty with the angst of a note-passing high school sophomore -- what space program let her in?? Then there was the flaky cult leader, and the rigid environmentalist ever flashing righteous scowls. It's an annoying, exaggerated cast of characters with only a few exceptions.
Also irritating was the insertion of the author's political dogmas, which revealed corporations and free-market types as predictably evil, bent on destroying the planet (just as they do on Earth, curse them all). The collectivists, of course, were the ones we were all supposed to cheer.
But OK, lots of it was interesting. The space elevator, terraforming ideas, survival on a hostile world. The author managed to stoke my imagination several times. He proved an able wordsmith, displaying flashes of brilliance at times. But the editors really let him down, I'm afraid. Several hundred pages needed to go and didn't.
Still, for those who like science and believable ideas about interplanetary travel, the book may be worth plodding through in your Martian rover.
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