If you haven’t already read it, my review of the first book in the series – Red Mars – is here. I found Green Mars, as a follow up, to be very… meh.
Author: Kim Stanley Robinson
First published in 1994
This book was incredibly similar to the first in the trilogy – Red Mars – to a fantastic degree. I found Green Mars, much like its predecessor, to be just so ok. It was long, boring (not necessarily a bad quality), and yet readable. But that was about it.
Like the first in the series, Green Mars was a complicated work that depended on the buildup of a lot of various pieces of equipment, social structures, and information. It covered a massive time frame, however, and seemed to skim over a lot of things despite going into minute detail about others. Robinson continues to praise the landscape of his quickly changing world, and Mars finally sees itself changing under the grip of human control.
One of the more delightful aspects of the book was how the author handled the psychology of becoming incredibly, unfathomably old. Since it’s something none of us can understand, he was working from a sort of ‘unknown’ position, and I really enjoyed his take on the effects of immortality. I didn’t think he needed the argument that ‘the immortality treatment didn’t reach into the brain’ even needed to be made, and I thought his interpretation was interesting.
At the same time, I couldn’t help looking at the overall plot and seeing the exact same ideas as those presented in Red Mars. It followed the exact same storyline trajectory, just with less compelling and far more characters. It became somewhat difficult to keep up with everyone, and several of the narrator-focused characters I even found difficult to get behind. As of writing this review, I’m not convinced this second book in the trilogy added much of anything to the storyline.
3/5 Discoball Snowcones
The plot of Red Mars was, from a broad perspective, about humans building a society on and slowly terraforming Mars – only to see much of their work destroyed in an attempt at a revolution for independence.
Green Mars followed this same formula – and much of the minutia were extremely similar, as well. Maya may have performed much of the same roles that Frank had played in Red Mars, and there may have been new, native-born Martians, but very little stood out as unique in this part of the tale. Supposedly they won their bid for independence in the end, but it cost much destruction and (just like in Red Mars!) fleeing from floods that, scientifically, I’m uncertain are even remotely possible on Mars. As well, the peace looks rocky, given the violent splinter cells and ecoterrorists that plague the planet.
As a whole, I was rather disappointed with the parallelism. I had hoped to see more ties, foils, and reasons to believe Green Mars was more artistic than just a copy. Alas, I don’t think those things existed or, at least, were very easy to pick out.
That being said, some things were creative. Some bits were fun to read. It wasn’t the worst reading experience, but I felt it too long and repetitive to be worth the rather immense amount of time it takes to read.
Look out for the next book in the series – Blue Mars!