This post gives a review of the Kim Stanley Robinson novel Green Mars, which is part of the Mars Trilogy.
This book is the second of three. The book before was Red Mars. The next book is called Blue Mars.
Some people have told me that Green Mars is still good, but not as good as Red Mars. And Blue Mars is even worse.
Green Mars is still a page turner, I finished the book in 3 days. This means that it’s good.
There are parts of it which are really long, tediously at times.
KMR has a tendency to not really discuss or elaborate on the technological aspect of his established world. He concentrates on the people and the society. Each part is written from the viewpoint of one character.
In itself, this isn’t a problem. The problem is that during most of this book, as with the previous one, the characters constantly travel all over the place on Mars. I find that it gets distracting after a while and it’s repetitive. I want to know more about the characters, not about the different features of the planet Mars.
Warning: Spoilers ahead.
I found that the whole metanational concept has been explored to a lesser degree in other cyberpunk books. The fact that the corporate entities are actually a lot bigger than most countries is interesting.
The whole dynamics of the political system of Earth changes, in order to comply with this new fact.
In the intervening years in around 2080-2090, a new space elevator is built using nanocarbon. Phyllis survived and was able head the rebuilding efforts on New Clarke.
The transnationals are coming back with full force to Mars.
We follow the early years and life of Nirgal, one of Hiroko’s children born on Mars. He, like most of her children, is an ectogene; a child born ouside of the womb through artificial insemination. He has some special metabolic abilities, enabling him to control his core body temperature. He leaves his home in order to travel Mars and to be with his father, the Coyote.
All Martian born natives are a lot taller than their Earther counterparts.
I am reminded by the following from Babylon 5:
The sands of Mars will run red with Earther blood.
The story picks up in the year 2100 and cover the next 27 years, until the second Martian revolution.
Sax wants to work in terraforming again, and does not want to work in the demimonde, the underground culture that thrives in Sabishii. He wants to work for a transnational agency. Thanks to the Swiss, he is able to do so and works for Biotique, a Praxis company.
In his work, he meets Phyllis once more. She is the part of the Armscor transnational team on Mars. He actually has an affair with her. But she finds out who he is and takes him prisoner. She has him tortured to reveal all his secrets. He is saved by Nadia, Maya, Spencer and The Coyote. Maya kills Phyllis for her crimes with a grenade.
Afterwards, it become apparent that Sax is suffering from a case of Broca’s aphasia and that he suffered a stroke while being tortured.
The underground and hidden colonies are threatened by the information he revealed so they are taking more precautions. The terraforming effort is going well. Ambient atmospheric pressure goes up to 340 millibars towards the end of the level. The transnationals have positioned giant solar reflectors and intensifiers in space to make the sun’s rays more powerful. The soletta is a reflector. They have also constructed a solar lens, to burn canal into Mars, though its utility is disputed by rival transnationals.
Sax slowly makes a partial recovery, thanks to Vlad, Marina and Ursula. He has to relearn how to speak and talk. With his syndrome, he had trouble articulating his thoughts.
Nirgal and Jackie become influential Martians who push for an independent Mars. Jackie is a Boonean; she is the daughter of John Boone and Hiroko and relishes in her ancestry. Just like Maya, she toys with males in order to assert her dominance over them. This reminds me of the Honored Matres, from Dune.
Art comes into play. He is the Praxis ambassador sent from Earth by William Fort, the head of Praxis, a metanational with Swiss connections. Fort was actually contacted by Nirgal to send someone. Nirgal arranges Art’s introduction to the underground and his keen mind is invaluable to the effort.
This all leads to the Dorsa Brevia conference, where most of the underground factions meet to work out a document or a common set of declarations, so they can present an unified front to Earth.
Art invited Fort to this conference, and he gives the underground valuable information about the new transnationals.
In effect, there has been a major development in corporate history. Transnationals have coalesced into larger entities, called metanationals. Metanationals are in control of more than one country. Most of the time, they get into poorer countries and are tasked to take over the economy. Countries like the Philippines, Cambodia, Indonesia and Thailand are all examples of countries completely controlled by the metanationals. There are only a dozen metanationals on Earth.
Praxis is one of them.
When the metanationals tighten security after Sax destroys the solar lens and sends Deimos off into space, fearing that it will be used as a weapons’ platform just like Phobos was in the last Martian revolution, the populace is pushed beyond its limits.
After the metanationals assault Sabishii and Gamete, Hiroko disappears and is not heard from again. The Coyote, Desmond Hawkins, made it out in time though.
When Sax learns that a glacier shelf in the Antarctic of Earth is breaking off and massive coastal flooding will result, he knows that it is time to strike. He gives the signal and the second Martian revolution begins in 2127.
Within days, the underground has taken control of most of the cities. Burroughs is threatened by an impeding flood, because of the standoff between metanationals and the a faction of the underground, called the Reds. In the end, the dikes are breached by the Marsfirst guerrillas and the population of Burroughs has to escape by walking to the Libya station.
The air on Mars is breathable, with a CO2 filter. There is a lot of vegetation all over the place, valleys and other sites have been rendered green with plants. The temperature oscillates sometimes towards over freezing (273ºK).
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Red Mars By Kim Stanley Robinson