by Kim Stanley Robinson
Bantam, ISBN 0-553-10063-7, 1998, 508pp, US$24.95
A book review by Evelyn C. Leeper
Copyright 1998 Evelyn C. Leeper
Robinson is certainly best known for his "Mars" series (RE MARS, GREEN MARS, BLUE MARS). ANTARTICA reads like WHITE MARS. It has what seemed like even more expository lumps, nay, expository *mountains*, about geology et al. And the only hint that this attempt to get us all to live a more ecologically sustainable lifestyle might not be paradisical is a passing reference to three attempts at single- child families in China, a plan that sounds good in theory but has turned out to be quite otherwise in practice. (Robinson's character who refers to this seems to think it was a good thing; Robinson's opinion is of course unknown.)
If Robinson is not the leading "ecological science fiction" writer these days, I must be really out of touch with the field. But even though I agree with his goals (or what I think his goals are), I am starting to find his didacticism wearing. To be fair, he does not draw obvious villains, intent on killing all the whales or some such and hang the consequences. But the parade of scientists and just plain folks who get to stand up and "speechify" about their philosophies is not what I am looking for in a novel.
The most interesting part of ANTARTICA, in fact, was the recounting of the early exploration of the continent and the people involved in that. Here Robinson's long expository passages didn't bother me, maybe because the explorers had more personality than mountains and glaciers. At least with them I felt I was reading a story rather than a textbook.
If you liked the "Mars" trilogy, you will almost definitely like ANTARTICA. But if you preferred the sparser, earlier Robinson, and were hoping for a return to that style, this will be a disappointment.
[Though the copyright date listed in the book is 1998, the book was actually published in Britain in 1997.]
%T Antarctica %A Kim Stanley Robinson %C New York %D July 1998 %I Bantam %O hardback, US$24.95 %G ISBN 0-553-10063-7 %P 508pp
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