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am 23. November 2016
The Mars trilogy by Kim Stanley Robinson is without a doubt a must for anyone who loves to read or write about this planet. Certainly it is a huge work from many points of view.
This first book focuses on the first colonization of the planet imagined in the very near future in respect of our present, while the book was written back in 1993. Then it continues in a time span of several decades describing the beginning of a terraforming project.
On the one hand we see the usual optimism of this kind of science fiction to imagine an event of titanic proportions in a relatively short time, which will certainly be denied by the facts. Beyond that, you can hardly call this book a novel. Sure, there are characters and their stories, linked with each other, but from a narrative point of view it seems more like a series of episodes, shown from different points of views, giving us a choral narration, in which there isn't a true protagonist if not Mars itself.
The individual stories, however, appear to be just an excuse for the author's attempt to immerse himself in other fields, mostly scientific ones, although he often tends to lead to sociology, politics, and even psychology. The result is a book that tends to look more like a speculative treaty than a true novel. The characters suffer about that, thus ending up in the margins. Most of them are not making much to be loved. I admit that I had trouble to get fond to them. The only one I really liked is Frank, maybe because I have found him the most human one, with his virtues and especially with his flaws. Too bad he was then hit by the karma of some too politically correct American stories, according to which, if you do something reprehensible, and at the end you have to pay somehow.
The book is still for the most part interesting, especially if you're looking for an in-depth pseudoscientific study. At the base of speculation there is a very accurate science, the result of considerable research. Perhaps the worst problem of this book is to have wanted to exceed in this sense, focusing too much on technical aspects at the expense of fiction.
In some parts I got bored and I skipped many pages. I do not regret it. At one point, in the part of the expedition narrated by the psychologist, the author leaves for a tangent with a very boring and unnecessary psychological disquisition. When the scope was more purely scientific, I read it with interest.
One thing that jars is the desire to be obsessively accurate from a scientific perspective and then expand without limits into the speculative part, arriving in my opinion to exceed.
The finale ends in catastrophism, an argument that I cannot generally stand, not only in the narrative, leaving you with a bad taste in the mouth, because the mood of the story starts with an optimistic base to arrive in a crescendo of drama to an excessive epilogue.
Having to give an overall opinion, it is undoubtedly a remarkable book, but not an easy read, due to its complexity and length. Certainly, however, it leaves you with something.

Rita Carla Francesca Monticelli, author of Red Desert - Point of No Return
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am 27. Februar 2008
Red Mars ist eines der besten Science-Fiction Bücher der letzten Dekaden über eine teils mögliche Variante der Marsbesiedlung. Doch ich muss gestehen, zu Beginn war mir die Herangehensweise von Robinson ein klein wenig suspekt. Ich erwartete über die erste Besiedlung des Mars zu erfahren und landete auf 22 langen Seiten eine Generation später in der Marskolonialisierung, die ohne die Vorgeschichte nicht allzu viel Sinn ergab - habe ich das falsche Buch gekauft? Was soll das? Doch keine Sorge, dann beginnt die Chronik der Besiedlung durch die ersten 100 Erdlinge. Das Eingangskapitel habe ich, als ich im Buch weiter fortgeschritten war und plötzlich einige Seiten vermisste, nachgelesen - und plötzlich war es sehr, sehr spannend. Gratuliere Mr. Robinson!

Gelungen finde ich jedes Kapitel durch einen kurzen Artikel einzuführen, wobei jedoch leider auch einige sehr gute Geschichten quasi per 'Zeitraffer' verschenkt werden. Ein paar der zugegeben sehr schönen Landschaftsbeschreibungspassagen in der Mitte des Romanes weniger - es sind wirklich sehr viele* - und ein paar der Geschichten aus den Essays detailliert ausgeführt, hätten dem Werk von mir sogar einen imaginären sechsten Stern eingebracht.

Eigenartig war für mich weiters, dass fast alle Kapitel andere Protagonisten haben. Ab dem ersten Drittel des Buches begann ich jedoch diesen selten angewendeten literarischen Kunstgriff sehr zu genießen, da er viel mehr Einblicke in eine mögliche Besiedelungsgeschichte bietet, als eine konventionelle Herangehensweise. Außerdem schafft es Robinson die Charaktere derart gut einzuführen, dass sie auch 200 Seiten später, ohne in der Zwischenzeit erwähnt zu werden, noch gut erkennbar sind. Gegen Schluss werden einige Handlungsstränge zu einem fulminanten halboffenen Ende zusammengeführt.

Fazit: Sehr lesenswert, bin schon neugierig auf Green Mars.

Übrigens: Unbedingt in ENGLISCH lesen. Ich habe in einer Buchhandlung in die deutsche Übersetzung hineingeschmökert: Es ist schier unglaublich, dass so eine grottenschlechte Transkription auf den Markt geworfen wird.

* ladet euch bei der NASA Bilder von den Marsmissionen herunter, dann sind diese Passagen ein richtiggehender Lesegenuss.
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am 6. Juli 2000
Red Mars is an excellent book with a fascinating plot and engaging characters. If anything suffers in this epic (the first of a trilogy), it is the actual literary style. The pacing is pleasantly leisurely most of the time but occasionally pages are spent describing geologic features with a stony earnestness and it is here that things become as dry as dust.
There is very little beautiful writing here. No poetry; no breathtaking descriptions (which is what an epic really calls out for). Another down side may be found in the characters themselves. Their personalities are interesting (enough so that one is willing to wade through glacial pages of topographic description), but none of the characters are geniuses and many of the predicaments they face could have been staved off if just one of them had been thinking a little.
All that said I must report that I enjoyed the book. Rumor has it that James Cameron is making a film based on the book (or on all three?), and that should be quite interesting to see. One hopes it just won't have a score by the marginally competent James Horner and...maybe not quite so many rocks...
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am 1. November 2013
Dies ist keine Space Opera, kein Knaller aber ein sehr technisch und psychologisch sehr interessantes Buch. Die Geschichte folgt in grossen Zügen dem Flug zum Mars und der nachfolgenden Besiedlung. Auf genaue Beschreibung einzelner Ereignisse folgen phantastische Landschaftsbeschreibungen und dann können auch mal 3-5 Jahre in 2 Seiten übersprungen werden.
Immer spannend und gespickt mit wissenschaftlichen und teschnischen Neuheiten/Erfindungen.
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am 8. Juni 2000
Kim Stanley Robinson has done one incredible, and very cohesive, job in setting down the words describing what an actual effort to settle a planet in our solar system might really be like.
This is not your run of the mill "kill all the little green men..." shoot 'em up space operas that various authors have bombarded us with in the past. Instead it is a serious attempt to portray all of the little details, from politics to human frailties; from engineering "can-dos" to engineering "maybes". He has gone to meticulous effort to lay out a Mars before us readers based upon what we now think we know to be fact about that planet, and gently suffused it with logical extrapolation on what we may find should we actually ever set foot there.
Mr. Robinson has also gone to great pains to paint us an extremely graphic image of what vistas we would see while strolling around the surface of Mars. He has named and described all of the mountains, craters, valleys, buttes, and mesas with such accuracy and attention to detail, you start wondering if he speaks from experience.
But, don't believe it is all just an exercise in idealism, as I mentioned before this is very much a human endevour, and where there are humans there will always be struggle. For instance, such a massive an undertaking as the colonization of Mars would obviously require a massive commitment of money. Such a massive committment of one's life, safety and future, would require a group of colonists with very individualistic ideas, people that tend to think outside the "box" so to speak. The money people and the "free thinkers" are bound to part ways on just what the future of Mars should or should not be, so we must inevitably come to War; and Mr. Robinson does not disappoint in this regard, the "troops" are sent in --- and the missiles, and the rocks, fly...
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am 6. Juli 1998
Where can you start with this momumental book? It is so rich(in terms of themes, characters, emotion, description of landscape,etc.) it would take a whole book in itself to do it a just review.
It is a completely plausible story, thanks to great attention to detail that gives it the accuracy and complexity that is found in the real world. It deals in such wide-ranging issues as politics, ecology, love, the effects of old age, the evils of capitalism, the future of humanity, and many other compelling themes. (In fact, where capitalism is concerned, it's pretty obvious that Kim Stanley Robinson views it as a flawed ideology - especially in Green Mars, Blue Mars, and his most recent book Antarctica. He sounds like a Marxist, or at least a modern anti-capitalist).
But on top of these serious issues is the veneer of a great plot with political machinations and jealous characters. Then there's the vast scenery (Echus Overlook, the Valles Marineris, Olympus Mons) which - should a film ever be made of Red Mars (and it should) - would be absolutely breathtaking. And then layered on top of this is the cataclysmic ending, with towns exploding and floods gouging the land and the cable crashing down onto the planet.
It's a cliche, but this book has something for everyone; human interest, science fiction, politics, beautiful scenery, action, and adventure. And it's just the start of a marvellous trilogy where the reader travels with old familiar characters and meets new ones, and ultimately goes to the far reaches of the Solar system with them. If ever a book so successfully depicted Mars as this, it would be a genius who did it. As it is, the genius of the moment is Kim Stanley Robinson.
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am 28. Dezember 1999
Don't be confused by all the technical jargon and social-political commentary - this one has all the outrageously fantastic scientific aspects of Star Trek or Star Wars! Robots/machines that can build just about everything for you? Dropping a whole moon on a planet and everyone doesn't die? Regularly scheduled - frequent - runs between Earth and Mars in only twenty years after first landing? A million immigrants to Mars after thiry years? Come on! This is pure opera! And long winded in the best tradition of opera at that.
I do have to agree with some other reviews, the First One Hundred as characters did not change or learn much - and some of the ones that did manage to learn something were punished for their growth with death. Made it difficult to care for them. But then, they reminded me of some driven individuals I have encountered in life. Childish and backward in many ways and yet so very brilliant and charismatic in others. [However I was pleased that at least my favorite - the eminently practical Siberian construction specialist - did indeed survive this book.]
I wouldn't recommend this book to a novice Science Fiction reader - heavy going indeed. But it certainly raises interesting and relevant points about the ethics and practicalities of expoliting other worlds. And challenges us to examine the way we live today. It's not just about the colonization of Mars. Which is the best kind of science fiction to be found.
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am 21. August 1999
I really don't understand how this book won the Nebula and Green Mars won the Hugo. I thought the book was very poorly written. Sci-Fi authors are not known for their writing ability, but KSR's work is some of the worst I have ever seen. The characters are some of the most unbelievable, flat, cliched and irrating people I've ever found in print. Not to mention the book seems to have no direction whatsover. The narrative lacks any semblance of continuity.
A lot of the other reviewers have complained about the politics which seem to be the true focus of the book. I don't mind them in and of themselves. What is annoying is the delivery. I'm sure a lot of the positive reviews are from readers sharing KSR's political philosphy; but the politics of Red Mars are very difficult to believe. The situations he contrives to justify the political climate of Red Mars stick out as just that: contrived.
I actually found the exceedingly long terrain descriptions kind of interesting, but the book does move very slowly. The "science" was interesting and sounded very good, if not entirely realistic. But I can't think of any sci-fi novel that is.
In summary, the plot is boring. The characters are boring, irritating, and one dimensional (what the hell were the reviewers who raved about great character development smoking????). The politics are lame. The science is interesting. The premise, sadly, is fascinating. And the book is extremely boring. Don't waste your time with it unless your stuck on an airplane with nothing else to read.
Red Mars probably deserves 3 stars, but I rated it a 1 due to the expectations associated with any Nebula winner -- this is the worst Nebula/Hugo winning book I've ever read.
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am 29. März 1999
I can't believe that this is the same book that has been hyped since 1993. It doesn't even begin to live up to its press releases.
1) The plot - B -you aren't sure what it is until about page 400. Even then, its not good enough to justify 579 boring pages. It could have been done better in 300.
2) The writing - D-minus - just horrible. Robertson spends pages and pages detailing stuff that is difficult to follow and pretty much irrelevant to the plot. He can't decide whether this is a treatise on human behavior or a hard sci-fi story and as a result it is neither. Also, there are so many geographical locations named as to be utterly confusing and distracting to his point (assuming he had one).
3) The characters - F - why anyone should want to read so much about one dimensional jerks is pretty much beyond me. Who selected these people to settle Mars? Helen Keller is my guess.
4) The Sci-fi - B+ Decent concepts that are well thought out and fairly accurrate, but they don't carry the book.
Its a shame. I should have liked this book. Its a sci-fi political novel (exactly my type) but in trying to do everything, it accomplishes nothing. I could barely finish it and when I did, I was sorry I bothered. I can't believe this drivel won a hugo.
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am 23. Januar 1999
I love science fiction. I love politics. I love the pull of a good story. Yet after slogging my way through the 1,500 plus pages of Robinson's mars trilogy I feel like I've wasted my time. I'm at a loss to see what all the fuss is about. Granted, the science in Robinson's books is carefully crafted, and it was nice to see a science fiction writer who tries to give you fully rendered adults acting like adults in a world you've never been to before. But by now I'm granting way too much.
First, the "action," such as it is, proceeds at a glacial pace. Hundred of pages are spent in long, detailed descriptions of characters exploring rock formations or noting minute changes in atmospheric pressure. Often you feel like you're reading a weather report. Some of the characters are interesting, especially when they're introduced in the first book, Red Mars. Yet Robinson will spend chapters introducing you to a character, building his or her possibilities, and then let the character fade into obscurity or into some trite or simplistic ending. This tendency becomes especially pronounced in the later books. It often seemed as if Robinson had either lost interest in the character or (more likely it eventually seemed to me) just plain ran out of ideas. The same can be said for the political ideas and scenarios Robinson tries to develop: many are promising at first, but they bear little fruit as you wait and wait for a resolution that is either insightful or dramatic. Instead, you get hastily drawn wrapping-up sequences that are filled with deus ex machinas. It would all be disappointing if you weren't so tired by then.
The best I can say is that Red Mars offers possibilities that the author does not, or cannot, exploit in the sequels. Spend you time elsewhere.
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