Faithful readers of this journal will no doubt recall that I have been taking a literary tour of twentith century Science Fiction. I have just completed my last book (for this round), Kim Stanley Robinson’s Red Mars. This hard [that is, heavy on the science] sci-fi novel follows the near-future Earth expedition of the Firsth Hundred settlers to colonize Mars. Not only does Robinson spin a compelling yarn about the geo- (and aero-) politics of colonization, but he also provides a breathtaking description of morphology of the Red Planet. In fact, some of Robinson’s descriptions make the reader wonder if he hasn’t already been there. There was enough chemistry, geology and physics in this book to remind me what I avoided in college.
Lest I leave you with the impression that this is a dry book, I want to stress that Robinson is telling a human story. The ambitious scope of this book isn’t clear until the final 100 pages, in which profound changes happen to both Mars and Earth that permanently affect the First Hundred settlers. To borrow a phrase from Babylon 5 by the end of the book, nothing is the same any more.
Red Mars is the first of the award winning Mars Trilogy. If you like your space opera seasoned with Real Science (tm), dinner is prepared!