95. The Mars Trilogy: Kim Stanley Robinson

Red Mars
Red Mars – Kim Stanley Robinson

There’s been a long delay in entries from the Book Club of One. That’s because the BCoO has been powering through The Mars Trilogy!

Red Mars, Green Mars, and the conclusion Blue Mars.

The Mars Trilogy is a Sci-Fi tome about the colonization and terraforming of our red neighbor, Mars. Robinson writes a story that is worthy of words like: “Epic” and “Saga”. If you stack the mass market paperbacks together they come pretty close to making a cube of Science Fiction print.

Robinson does some very interesting things with his trilogy. He digs into lots of social, socio-economic, and governmental issues. i’ve mentioned before how much i like it when Sci-Fi is used well to help us see issues from a fresh angle, often helping us see past our own blind spots.  The Mars Trilogy follows the tales of the “First 100” (the first one hundred settlers to Mars) and their immediate descendants (mostly).

Several interesting developments arise that lead us down some long but interesting rabbit trails. A near-cure for aging is formulated, bring up issues of what that looks like morally, socially, and economically. Is the treatment a human right? Is it a benefit for the wealthy? What happens to population control when people don’t die naturally? etc, etc, etc.

There’s the turmoil between those who want to terraform Mars and those who want it left in it’s natural state (“Greens” and “Reds”, who eventually are pressured by circumstance to reach some sort of compromise… “Blues” – spoilers haha).

There’s the task of establishing a whole new government, one unlike any on Earth. Which leads to some very interesting questions.

In the end Robinson brings things back around to the basics of human existence and our search for our place in the scheme of things, leaving us with a conclusion that is tied to the intimate connections between two characters. Two characters who have been with us for the entire trilogy.

My best descriptor of the series is that it is a platform for some pretty ambitious thought experiments.

The Mars Trilogy wasn’t one of my favorite reads of this project so far, which is a real shame. “Aurora”, a newer book by Robinson (published in 2015) is one of my top reads from the past 5 years or so. If you’re looking for something by Kim Stanley Robinson i’d recommend Aurora instead, same style: still using Sci-Fi to ask big questions and think through their ramifications. Aurora is not nearly as daunting as The Mars Trilogy though.

Book Club of One Grade: C- The writing is rock solid, the series is very thorough and in-depth… but for me that may be what kept its BCoO grade lower. If you’re the kind of person who wants that daunting epic read over the summer this could be the very thing you’re looking for. If you’re like me and after some time the large cast of players and the depth become a little overwhelming, well… did i mention that Aurora is one of the best books i’ve ever read?

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