Wednesday, October 06, 2004

Robinson on Mars

I've been reading Kim Stanley Robinson's novel Blue Mars, the third book in the Red Mars, Green Mars, Blue Mars trilogy. It's been several years since i read the first two books, and i'd forgotten how exceptional this series is.

I'm not a big fan of science fiction in general; a good percentage of the genre spends so much time on elaborate plots and scientific extrapolations that it doesn't have time for character. Robinson spends plenty of time speculating about near future developments in technology and society, in fact the detail and the obvious research that went into it is incredible. But he's also managed to create interesting characters whose behavior is sometimes all too human (whether Terran or Martian-- my personal favorite is Sax Russell, the terraforming genius who's still slightly obtuse with regard to the emotions of people). I'm constantly impressed by how plausible his fictional milieu seems, even though it spans multiple planets by the third book.

Plus which, the dude can write. I came across this passage today, describing late 22nd century earth, which now has a population of 18 billion:

Steaming, clotted, infectious, a human anthill stuck with a stick; the panic pullulation ongoing in the dreadful mash of history; the hypermalthusian nightmare at its worst; hot, humid, and heavy; and yet still, or perhaps because of all that, a great place to visit.
Definitely one of those rare series of books that you wish could continue indefinitely.

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