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the Complete Review
the complete review - fiction

Green Mars

Kim Stanley Robinson

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To purchase Green Mars

Title: Green Mars
Author: Kim Stanley Robinson
Genre: Novel
Written: 1994
Length: 624 pages
Availability: Green Mars - US
Green Mars - UK
Green Mars - Canada
La Trilogie martienne - France
Grüner Mars - Deutschland
  • The second volume in The Mars Trilogy
  • See also the other volumes in The Mars Trilogy: Red Mars and Blue Mars
  • Winner of the Hugo Award for best novel, 1994

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Our Assessment:

B : solid continuation, but very much a middle section

See our review for fuller assessment.

Review Summaries
Source Rating Date Reviewer
The NY Times Book Rev. . 8/5/1994 Gerald Jonas
Sunday Times . 5/12/1993 Francis Spufford
The Times . 20/12/1993 Tom Hutchinson

  From the Reviews:
  • "If John McPhee wrote science fiction, the result might read like Green Mars, by Kim Stanley Robinson. Grand in scope, meticulous in detail" - Gerald Jonas, The New York Times Book Review

  • "A sense is also building of the remoteness of what Robinson describes, however acclimatised to his Mars the reader has become. (...) Robinosn takes on the intricate long haul of the task he has set himself without getting lost in histories or technologies" - Francis Spufford, Sunday Times

  • "For all its unwieldy plotting, it still has a massive grip that makes it as compelling as it is worthy." - Tom Hutchinson, The Times

Please note that these ratings solely represent the complete review's biased interpretation and subjective opinion of the actual reviews and do not claim to accurately reflect or represent the views of the reviewers. Similarly the illustrative quotes chosen here are merely those the complete review subjectively believes represent the tenor and judgment of the review as a whole. We acknowledge (and remind and warn you) that they may, in fact, be entirely unrepresentative of the actual reviews by any other measure.

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The complete review's Review:

       The first volume of the trilogy, Red Mars, culminated with the turning point of 2061, as those that had settled on the planet try to gain more autonomy and no longer want to answer to Earth (or create the Earth- (and corporate-) vision of Mars). Things have settled down somewhat, but the two opposing forces -- the transnational corporations bent on exploiting and controlling Mars, and those who want to go an independent Martian way -- are still in conflict, with a seething unrest spread across much of the planet. Earth-powers remains in control, but there's a good deal of opposition on Mars proper.
       Robinson's miracle-longevity-cure that first appeared in Red Mars means that many of the 'First Hundred' are still around, active as ever -- though quite a few have been culled, to leave a manageable core-group (conveniently spread out, too, to allow the action to jump around). Enough time has passed, however, for a first generation of Mars-born to also play a significant role, and one of these -- Nirgal -- becomes a major character. Another new character is also introduced: Art Randolph, an earthling who is sent as a representative of 'Praxis', one of the notorious transnationals that now dominate the world-economy and politics, but one more open-minded than the others, eager to work together with the Martians (rather than just claim the resources, as most of the others seem to want to do).
       Nirgal and Art allow Robinson to effectively present and describe life and conditions on Mars through new eyes -- those of the boy growing up there, who knows nothing else, and those of the newcomer who has never been to the planet before.
       The situation on Earth is also dire, with a world war in 2061 consolidating transnational (and ultimately metanational) corporate power. The rich have gotten the longevity treatment, but many of the poor haven't ("the mortals, as they were called"), and this continues to be a divisive issue, and there is continued conflict between poor and rich. Indeed, Green Mars is as much about the continuing collapse of Earth as it is about the Martian alternative.
       Collapse of part of Antarctica raises sea levels by six metres world-wide, necessitating mass-evacuations from coastal areas: even as efforts are under way to 'terraform' Mars, Earth itself is undergoing drastic physical changes.
       Aside from the technical possibilities of forming a planet to one's wishes, Robinson's concerns in the Mars trilogy continue to be economic and political. The profit-focussed capitalist system dominant on Earth doesn't find much favour on Mars -- though one of the weaknesses of the trilogy is in the (lack of) details of wealth-creation and distribution by the Martians, a system that doesn't seem particularly plausible. Mars also allows for a variety of political approaches, the opportunity to start anew -- but the unifying ambition winds up being a call for independence, for Mars to go its own way, no longer as a colony but rather as: "a free Mars".
       Green Mars covers a relatively long period -- from one revolution (2061) to the next (2127) --, allowing both for significant physical change on Mars as well as a certain sweep of history, both on Mars and especially on Earth. Fairly well paced, the novel follows a variety of characters: Nirgal is one greater point of focus, but far from the sole one -- making for an occasionally unwieldy story. Still, Robinson offers a nice mix of small adventure and larger issues -- though with so much going on, especially on Earth, it occasionally feels like one is only getting a sliver of the story.
       Appealing enough, Green Mars does feel very much the middle part of a bigger story, bookended by two major changes; certainly it should be read as part of the trilogy, and not on its own.

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Green Mars: Reviews: Kim Stanley Robinson: Other books by Kim Stanley Robinson under review: Other books of interest under review:

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About the Author:

       American author Kim Stanley Robinson has written several highly acclaimed works of science fiction.

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© 2007-2024 the complete review

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