Kim Stanley Robinson is a sheer genius and if you like sci-fi, I strongly recommend you reading his books. However, he is quite a fond of science, real science.
His book is thus literally packed with data on Mars itself, but also on many sciences including genetics, bio-engineering, and yes dear reader, environmental questions.
And then, we have a winner as it combines my strong interest for environment as well as science fiction, which is my favorite genre with thrillers.
According to a French website dedicated to science fiction – Cafard Cosmique [Fr] – Kim Stanley Robinson is one of the three major 1900s writers with Ian M Banks (unknown to me) and Dan Simmons. I didn’t like Simmons’ books for the reasons I evocated in 2007 : way too gore and way too sadistic.
But Mr. Robinson is far from that. The Mars trilogy comprises no less than two Hugo awards and a Nebula award. Hugo are a sign of quality for the science fiction genre. Indeed, it was also awarded to A Deepness in the Sky and A Fire Upon the Deep, two fantastic books I previously reviewed here.
Red Mars begins in 2026 with the expedition of a hundred scientists to Mars. The main characters are mainly of American and Russian nationalities, but there are also French and Japanese people.
They colonize the Red planet together but soon they differ on a vital topic : should the planet be adapted to human life and thus terraformed ? Two groups form themselves : the Red, which are willing to let Mars untouched, and the Greens which are willing to modify it so it suits us perfectly.
An aspect that I particularly loved is the settlement of the colons. It is in this aspect quite similar to the Mysterious Island by Jules Verne I reviewed there. It is terribly modern as it uses all the data comes from years of research on neighboring planet as well as on various sciences.
Conclusion : If you like science fiction and appreciates realistic stories with a lot of science, complexity of the characters’ psychology and their relationships, you will love this book. Be sure that I will review here the second and third part of the trilogy as soon as I will have read them.
Grade : 19/20
Re-readability : Yes.
Original title, available in French : Mars la Rouge.
Many thanks to Tim for inviting me to read this book.