by Kim Stanley Robinson
Discussed April 2006
The first chapter is a scene that takes place later in the book. In this first chapter a celebration is being held in one of the new Martian cities. Large farms are on the periphery of the city. It is a celebration that is attended by many of the first 100 settlers on Mars. John Boone gave an inspirational speech to dedicate the new city Nicosia. It was a freestanding city on the Martian surface with an immense clear tent supported by an invisible frame. Inside the city were skyscraper buildings. John Boone was the first man on Mars. At the celebration Maya and John talked to people on the stage platform. Frank Chalmers left and went toward the northern perimeter. Angry, Chalmers walked the narrow streets. Frank saw a cluster of Arabs he knew. He talked with them for a while and walked on. Frank met up with Selim el-Hayil, an Arab who asked Frank if John Boone had blocked permission to build a mosque. Frank indicated it was all John Boone’s power that prevented it. Frank then made arrangements to meet at the park with Selim later. Frank met up with John Boone. The exchanged few words. Frank was angry because John was looking for Maya and Frank left. At eleven o’clock Frank met with Selim. Frank enraged Selim against John Boone. Frank told Selim how he could trap John outside the farm gates. Later John was found among the radishes. He was rushed to the Emergency Center but to no avail. Frank left the ER and walked through the quiet streets. He thought, “Now we’ll see what I can do with this planet.”
Part Two begins with the contest to see who would be the first one hundred to go to Mars and start a settlement. One hundred and fifty went to Antarctica to live for a year together at McMurdo Station. They felt that Antarctica best simulated the harsh living conditions on Mars. It was like Mars except of course for the lack of oxygen in the atmosphere, the even colder temperatures and a landscape of volcanoes and craters and the lack of any readily available water. Michael Duval, a psychologist, was sent along to observe the potential applicants. Everyone knew they were being watched so their behavior was tailored to be the best of the best. All of them wanted to be in the first one hundred.
One hundred were selected and boarded the Ares spaceship and were on their journey to Mars. Maya Katarina Torovna was the official leader of the Russian contingent. They were weightless on December 21, 2006. It would be a nine-month voyage. The voyage out would change the first one hundred forever. After Antarctica the Ares seemed large and spacious even with one hundred people. Nadia was Maya’s best friend, an engineer and expert in cold-climate construction. Nadia was plain looking while Maya knew herself to be good-looking. Maya and Nadia were like sisters. They loved each other and at times did not get along.
Arkady a Russian male wanted to shift rooms every two weeks to reduce the idea of ownership.
Maya liked John Boone, he was always friendly and always had the right thing to say and do. But she was more interested in Frank Chalmers who was quiet, pensive, and more stand offish. Chalmers was the leader of the American contingent. He spoke five languages. He could turn on a friendly persona or not. Frank and Maya met in the forest biome, touched and made love. Afterwards Maya was very uncomfortable with Frank. Hiroko was in charge of the farm and she befriended Maya and listened to here lament about Frank.
Half way through their trip the Ares was closing in on everyone. Arkady was in charge of creating artificial problems and then everyone had to react to survive the danger. Everyone teased Arkady because he was relentless. And one morning a solar flare was detected and it was a “real” ballgame. Everyone did their jobs to batten down to take the radiation and then all went to the center of the ship during the flare. They were receiving 1.4658 rem to 1.9004 rem. They survived with some permanent damage to plants.
Talk began about the new world they were going to set up. To forget about what they were supposed to do and do what they wanted to do. Maya was having physical and mental difficulties and Hiroko told her to spend more time on the farm. Many people were arguing and fighting and it was six months into the trip. Maya did continue working on the farm and she saw a brown-skinned man’s face in the farm – a face she had never seen before. She feared she was hallucinating. Groups had solidified and people isolated themselves from the larger 100 group. Arkady was to stop on the moon Phobos and buil a habitable station. He had a crew with him that worked well together and all shared the same economic-sociological ideals. The Ares was to aerobrake into the Mars atmosphere. For years, supplies had been sent to Mars for them to use to construct their buildings. Supplies, equipment, actual living quarters and everything to start had been dropped. Robots were going to be used for many jobs on Mars. Once the Ares hit the Mars atmosphere, the ship began to vibrate. They skipped out of the atmosphere and slowed down. They maneuvered and established an orbit 500 kilometers above Mars. Now there was real work to be done.
They finally landed on the Martian surface and moved into their small housing units. Immediately they started building. Now they began the arduous process of opening all the boxes and building their first city. Mining operations were set up and Nadia was the lead engineer. Everyone called on her to fix things. Her skills were in great demand. Hiroko and her people built the greenhouses and developed farms. Arkady built beautiful structures on the moon with his people. He finally finished and came down to Mars.
Maya continued to manage the operations but it was very clear that everyone was grouping together and concentrating on their own projects.
A great discovery was made that extended age. Through a special three day treatment you could extend your life. Initially they believed that with the treatment they could live for 200 years, maybe longer – no one knew. John Boone the first man on Mars was a traveler and he went everywhere on Mars. On his trips he talked with everyone and was the conduit that held things together politically. He was also seeing Maya. Frank Chalmers was jealous of Boone. Frank ultimately had John Boone killed.
Subsequently, Hiroko and her people were just gone one day. People were traveling to Mars and they would come down on the space elevator. The elevator changed everything. It took the mineral resources from Mars and brought people from Earth. Life on Earth was not going well and war was prolific in many locations and eminent in others. People wanted to escape to Mars. So the cities developed on Mars and people came and Mars changed.
There developed a large faction of people who were against the changes
and they began to sabotage the mining companies and create accidents
everywhere. These accidents escalated until war broke out on Earth and
that was when the revolutionists decided to blow up the Martian cities.
They destroyed the elevator. Hiroko and her people saw to it that the
first one hundred were able to escape. They all went into hiding with
Hiroko. Their lives were saved. The government of Earth wanted all of
the first one hundred dead so they all went into permanent hiding.
|From Publishers Weekly
The first installment in Robinson's ( Blind Geometer ) new trilogy is an action-packed and thoughtful tale of the exploration and settlement of Mars--riven by both personal and ideological conflicts--in the early 21st century. The official leaders of the "first hundred" (initial party of settlers) are American Frank Chalmers and Russian Maya Katarina Toitova, but subgroups break out under the informal guidance of popular favorites like the ebullient Arkady Nikoleyevich Bogdanov, who sets up a base on one of Mars's moons, and the enigmatic Hiroko, who establishes the planet's farm. As the group struggles to secure a foothold on the frigid, barren landscape, friction develops both on Mars and on Earth between those who advocate terraforming, or immediately altering Mars's natural environment to make it more habitable, and those who favor more study of the planet before changes are introduced. The success of the pioneers' venture brings additional settlers to Mars. All too soon, the first hundred find themselves outnumbered by newcomers and caught up in political problems as complex as any found on Earth.
Copyright 1992 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
In his most ambitious project to date,
award-winning author Kim Stanley Robinson utilizes years of research and
cutting-edge science in the first of three novels that will chronicle
the colonization of Mars.
John Boone, Maya Toitovna, Frank Chalmers, and Arkady Bogdanov lead a mission whose ultimate goal is the terraforming of Mars. For some, Mars will become a passion driving them to daring acts of courage and madness; for others it offers an opportunity to strip the planet of its riches. And for the genetic "alchemists," Mars presents a chance to create a biomedical miracle, a breakthrough that could change all we know about life...and death.
The colonists place giant satellite mirrors in Martian orbit to reflect light to the planet's surface. Black dust sprinkled on the polar caps will capture warmth and melt the ice. And massive tunnels, kilometers in depth, will be drilled into the Martian mantle to create stupendous vents of hot gases. Against this backdrop of epic upheaval, rivalries, loves, and friendships will form and fall to pieces-for there are those who will fight to the death to prevent Mars from ever being changed.
Brilliantly imagined, breathtaking in scope and ingenuity, Red Mars is an epic scientific saga, chronicling the next step in human evolution and creating a world in its entirety. Red Mars shows us a future, with both glory and tarnish, that awes with complexity and inspires with vision.
|From School Library Journal
YA-Red Mars seems to have emerged the favorite of all of the recent stories about a rocket trip to Mars, showing up on many science fiction awards lists. It describes the progress of the first Mars colonists from Earth as they are selected and trained, travel, get to know the planet, and establish the first viable human settlement there. Personalities are powerful, and inevitable divisions develop. In short, it's a terrific story. The science is fascinating, and the humans are engaging and convincing. Throughout, the plot grows out of a rich mixture of perspectives-ecological, political, economic, psychological, ethical-all of which resonate in the here and now. Though it is a complete novel in itself, Red Mars is also the first in a trilogy. Major new sci/fi epics don't come along every year; YAs should enjoy seeing this one unfold.
Christine C. Menefee, Fairfax County Public Library, VA
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc.