View Full Version : Recently finished: Red Mars by Kim Stanley Robinson

Sir Penguin
10-01-2003, 07:39:16
NOTHING HAPPENED FOR 4/5 OF THE BOOK! It started out with an interesting hook. And then it jumped back in time, and dragged on, and on, and on, for 350 pages. Things almost happened, but almost all the time they never quite made it to the "interesting"-point.

There was a lot of character development, but almost no character change. It was like a short story writer who found himself writing a novel and couldn't believe that he could actually spend time explicating his characters. And then did it for most of the book. Almost all of the conflict was character based, and if a conflict was resolved, generally the characters involved ended up the same way they had been before. I hate to interpret an author's motive, but it seemed like he was too scared to create any consequential disturbance in his character set. I can think of two characters off-hand who underwent significant change in the first 400 pages, and out of a cast of 1 or 2 dozen, that's not a lot. Maybe I'm just bitter because not enough people died.

Red Mars had a lot of great science in it, with supplemental diagrams. I really enjoyed the explanations. I'm such a nerd. In grade 10 we watched Jurassic Park (first time for me), and everybody thought I was disappointed when the class decided to fast forward through the science parts. They were right.

Things really picked up at about 100 pages before the end. Bad things didn't just start to happen, they actually ended up happening and having real consequences, too. Which is too bad, because now I feel encouraged to read the sequels, Green Mars and Blue Mars. Red Mars is definitely not a book I would read again, except as a precursor to re-reading the sequels (assuming the sequels aren't as dry as this one). But at least I finished it.


Sir Penguin
10-01-2003, 07:42:40
It could be that I didn't like it as much as I might have because I had just finished A Deepness in the Sky by Vernor Vinge, which is really good.


10-01-2003, 08:58:55
Well, most things will compare very unfavourably to _ADitS_, but _Red Mars_ is lousy all by itself.

It takes something of a masoschist to take an immense interest in the showdown between the green-red feminist and the feminist greenie-reds, after all.

All in the set of the most inplausible "science" since Doc Smith.

10-01-2003, 09:32:27
I've never read the Lensman stuff, moomin, but i guess it's pretty pulpy. is there any value in reading it? even if it's kitsch...

10-01-2003, 09:55:50
It's great, in that insane. unfettered way that the original Flash Gordon series is: heroes much, much larger than life, villains so evil Poly off-topic could agree about it, damsels in infinite distress and mighty, mighty MIGHTY spaceship. All among chummy comraderie and evil scheming plan-within-plan settings.

All in all, a good way to pass a evening or two. The Doc sure could write, even if what he wrote was unadulterated tripe. Like most other early SF, leave your disbelief at home, though. Certainly not litterature for your critical faculties.

10-01-2003, 10:39:18
I liked Red Mars for the science, the sequels for the story.

A Fire on the Deep is a classic though, jsorense sent me that when I had Glandular Fever.

Sir Penguin
10-01-2003, 22:52:55
I remember that A Fire upon the Deep was excellent, too, but the main library in Victoria doesn't have it so I have to go to one of the boonie libraries. Hopefully, the same one that has The Ringworld Throne for the sake of efficiency. I don't have a favourite book, but Deepness is definitely in the non-ranked top 5. I've read one of the Lensman books. I would read a Doc Smith story for the same reason I read Discworld: it's fast, fun, and easy. I was all set to hate it, because the "E.E." reminded me of e.e. cummings, whose lack of capitalisation annoys me.


11-01-2003, 16:03:20
Sir Penguin: Stay away from Ringworld Throne. In fact, run away.

15-01-2003, 20:31:45
IIRC there was a short debate here some time ago about which of the V.V. novels was better, AFUtD or ADitS.
The conclusion was, I think, that a reader preferred the book he or she read first over the second.

15-01-2003, 23:29:30
I dunno. I read AFUtD first, but still prefered ADitS. I think AFUtD is a bit rambling. ADitS is a lot tighter.

16-01-2003, 00:01:07
Guy's next article will illuminate us, for sure. I think I went with AFUtD (which I read first).

Sir Penguin
16-01-2003, 00:07:54
I'd go with ADitS, which I read second. Vinge used the phrase 'ad hoc' in AFUtD way too much for it not to be annoying.


23-01-2003, 17:11:48
Originally posted by Noisy
Guy's next article will illuminate us, for sure. I think I went with AFUtD (which I read first).

I knew there was something I was supposed to be doing... ;)