Sunday, September 04, 2005

Mars trilogy

This morning I finished Green Mars, the second volume of Kim Stanley Robinson's Mars trilogy. The story traces the settlement of Mars and the terraforming of the planet. Robinson invents a longevity treatment that allows him to follow the same set of characters for decades. At the conclusion of Green Mars the characters are about a hundred years older than at the beginning of Red Mars. They're old and wrinkly and achy but I wouldn't be surprised if they had 600 pages of life left in them.

Robinson's prose? I don't know that there's much to say about it. He does description tolerably well, though mostly avoids metaphor (and, thankfully, knows to step over a cliche). His dialog is believable and the characters distinct. When style doesn't call attention to itself it's easy to forget that poor style is too ready to fill a page. And, of course, one reads a book about settling Mars for the ideas, doesn't one? How do people live in such a hostile place? How do they get there in the first place? Once settled in, how do they relate to their home planet? Toward the end of Green Mars Robinson describes a common graffito, "You Can Never Go Back".

I think I'll take a rest before I start the third book but I'm looking forward to it.

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