Monday, April 4, 2011

Blue Mars (Book)

When many of us, as little kids, thought about the future, this is the world that we dreamed of living in. Millions of people are living on Mars. Earth has begun to colonize planets around other stars. People can expect to live well into their two hundreds.

Blue Mars, the winner of both the 1997 Hugo and Locus Science Fiction awards, completes Kim Stanley Robinson’s Mars Trilogy. Like the previous two book, Red Mars and Green Mars, the scope in Blue Mars is incredible. Robinson continues to describe the experiences of the First Hundred, as well as those of some other major characters. At times, the story is intimate, describing a character’s innermost thoughts. At other times, the story can be highly scientific, describing complex theories. At times, the story is highly philosophical, describing how Mars changes the psyche of the settlers. At other times, the story is highly sociological, describing how the new government is set up and how the different political parties maneuver for power. In addition, the timeframe of the combined trilogy encompasses almost two hundred years.

Briefly, Blue Mars begins after the second revolution on Mars. The original Hundred Colonists are now out of hiding, terraforming continues to make the surface more and more livable, and the Martians begin to set up their own government. However, they are not totally free from the influence of Earth, which has undergone a serious of major challenges. In Green Mars, half of the Antarctic icecap had melted, raising sea level seven meters, and the introduction of the longevity drug had compounded the problems of overpopulation. In Blue Mars, these continue to affect the lives of the characters. In addition, as the years progress the first people to take the longevity drug are now beginning to have neurological problems, most of which involve memory. Then, there are the implications of just expecting to live a long life. Threads begun in Red and Green Mars continue to weave their way through Blue Mars on both small and large scales.

The Mars Series deserves to be savored. When I read it again, as I hope to do some time in the future, I would like to read just a few pages at a time, enjoying the descriptions. For example, in one scene of Blue Mars, Sax and Maya are discussing the colors of the Martian sky, which from the very beginning of Red Mars is described as having colors, particularly shades of purple, that there are no words for in Earth languages. In addition, the series contains levels of meaning that I don’t think are apparent on a quick read. For example, much of Blue Mars describes the search for Hiroko, the illusive matriarch of the first generations born on Mars. After over 1600 pages, I feel almost disloyal moving onto another book, but more Hugo winning novels await.

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