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Blue Mars (Mars Trilogy) Mass Market Paperback – June 2, 1997
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“A breakthrough even from [Kim Stanley Robinson’s] own consistently high levels of achievement.”—The New York Times Book Review
“Exhilarating . . . a complex and deeply engaging dramatization of humanity’s future.”—The Philadelphia Inquirer
“[Blue Mars] brings the epic to a rousing conclusion.”—San Francisco Chronicle
From the Inside Flap
The red planet is red no longer, as Mars has become a perfectly inhabitable world. But while Mars flourishes, Earth is threatened by overpopulation and ecological disaster. Soon people look to Mars as a refuge, initiating a possible interplanetary conflict, as well as political strife between the Reds, who wish to preserve the planet in its desert state, and the Green "terraformers." The ultimate fate of Earth, as well as the possibility of new explorations into the solar system, stand in the balance.
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For the first two books they felt more like narrative devices than full fleshed out people - a way for the author to explore different aspects of colonisation. And that was fine, I was happily along for the ride.
But it's a long ride, and by the end they start to feel like old friends. And then those old friends start to reach the end of their run. They suddenly seem so much more human, so much more vulnerable. I found myself tearing up at several points during particularly poignant goodbyes.
Taken together, this book completes the trilogy by instilling it with the emotional investment that wasn't necessarily present in the first two. Bravo, Kim Stanley Robinson. Bravo.
The strength of the series, in its sweeping scope, is its insights into political science as it plays out on an exceptionally large cast of well-developed characters. By means of a device available only to SciFi writers, the characters have access to life-extending DNA modifications which enables them to bear witness to events over the span of a couple of centuries. Some may see this as a contrivance, but this life extension exercise is so plausibly interwoven into the warp and weft of the story strucutre that it didn't bother me at all.
Robonson writes really beautifully, with extended (some might say over-extended) landscape descriptions, local and global geography, and what appears to be an encyclopedic knowledge of geology. The physics gets a bit fanciful in the later volumes, much less so early on. Whjat really drives the novel, though, is the conflicts between characters and institutions, both of which continue to change over time. You've got sex. You've got romance. You've got the love of nature, the quest for power, and the reactions of those who don't like it. What more could you want?
I would given this five stars but for a few annoying flaws. As the saga goes on, and the author is obviously tiring, you find more errors creeping in: Character names misspelled, plot lines set up and then left unresolved, a character dying and then reappearing with no explanation, small words missing here and there. Evidently the editor(s) got as tired as the author.
Still, on balance, a good read, if not quite as exciting and engaging as Red Mars.