I had a love-hate relationship with Red Mars. Let’s start with what I loved. There are lots of classic science fiction novels that incorporated life on Mars, and I have read a bunch of them. This is the first that made it actually sound somewhat possible. The concept of systematically terraforming a completely uninhabitable and hostile world, was cleverly made to sound believable and possible by Kim Stanley Robinson. He really did his research.
I also loved the social aspects woven into the book. Robinson does a terrific job of depicting how an advanced group of people might build a society and political structure if they were to begin from scratch. Watching various groups and cultures evolve and interact under the harsh Martian environment was a lot of fun.
Now, here is what I did not love. For me, the book read a little more like a history book than a novel. Given the depth to which Robinson went to build this new world and society, he had to convey a lot of details from many different character perspectives. It left me unable to get behind or really get into any one character. It also made for a long, and at times, dry story. There were not many places in the book where I felt like I just couldn’t put it down, and had to find out what happened next.
If you want to think ‘outside the box’ about science, exploration, and society, this is a must read. However, if you are looking for a fast-paces sci-fi story with lots of action, this is definitely not for you.
Hope this helps you find your next book.