Friday, 2 January 2015

Green Mars by Kim Stanley Robinson

If I remember my review of Red Mars correctly, I spent much of my time wondering why we weren't spending time with what seemed the most interesting parts of the story - Hiroko's hidden colony and the rebels. Apparently I just need to be a little more patient, but that's never been my strong point. Green Mars is almost entirely from outside the official corporate structures of power, and spends most of its time with Hiroko's colony and the rebels, as they try to reconcile vastly different goals and methods and not have a complete catastrophe on their hands when it finally comes to open revolution.

I'm glad to finally get this side of the story. And this time, we're entirely on that side - we don't get how the corporations perceive the mounting resistance, except for a few glimpses into the one corporation that is backing the resistance.  It's an intriguing choice, although sometimes I wished I knew what the other side was thinking. As the reader, though, you're in the same position as the rebellion, without full information on what your opponents are planning.

Robinson does a good job of illustrating the complexity of orchestrating a successful revolution, with all the schisms and factions that involves, those who are willing to wait and bide their time, to those who want to start breaking things now, without any particular plan. And, of course, the biggest division in these books are between the many, who want a Mars under Mars jurisdiction, and the few who want to see Mars touched as little as possible, even turning back the clock on the areoforming that has already been done.

A lot of the time is spent with the part of the revolution more intent on planning before striking, although some time is spent with Ann and her anger that Mars has been touched by humans at all. Two books in, I get that some people might take this stance. I don't understand it. I guess I'm just human-centric. But mostly, we're with the third generation of Hiroko's colony, and with Sax, as he takes on a new face and infiltrates a corporation, only to come face to face with Phyllis again, and with Maya, as she battles her own sense of herself and what she's lost while still trying to hold the revolution together. And with Coyote. And with Art, sent by that one sympathetic corporation to help negotiate a framework that most if not all the rebel groups can agree on.

Robinson is long-winded on two fronts. On the nitty-gritty of forming a revolution that won't end in flood-level amounts of bloodshed. And on the nitty-gritty of the areoforming of the planet. I find the first fascinating, but politics are something I'm interested in, and in particular, how people do or don't work together. I study a social movement that went through its own share of fractures, and Robinson understands the complexities of this stuff extremely well.

I am less enthralled by the areoforming bits. It's interesting, but when you get that much detail with that few humans, I tend to glaze over a bit. It's well-written, it's just not my things. Give me people any day. Still, I'm sure the hard SF fans love those bits. They didn't bother me, I just found my attention wandering during those pages.

All in all, this book delivered the part I was missing from the first one. I'm interested to see where it will go from here. On to Blue Mars, at some point!


I read this book as part of an attempt to read all the Hugo Nominees

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