NESFA Members' Reviews


by Kim Stanley Robinson

Bantam Spectra, ISBN 0-553-10144-7, 1996, 624pp, US$22.95

A book review by Evelyn C. Leeper

Copyright 1996 Evelyn C. Leeper

Well, Kim Stanley Robinson has finally finished his Mars trilogy, and while it may be heresy to say this, I'm glad it's over. It is possible that if I had read the whole trilogy at one time, I might have enjoyed the third book more, but the fact is that finishing it was more a chore than a pleasure.

Maybe it's just my reaction to massive multi-volume series that take years to finish. Orson Scott Card took so long for his latest Alvin book to come out that I had completely lost interest. The current Turtledove World War series is another one that started out good, but two years later is bogging down, as I try to reconstruct enough of the earlier books to have the current one mean something. And even Robinson, whose work I generally love, cannot overcome this problem.

In the first book (RED MARS), Robinson sets the stage, introduces the characters, and gives us a clear picture of what is happening. Though obviously there was room for a sequel, the book did stand on its own. In GREEN MARS he continues the story, with even more emphasis on the technical aspects. But because it was a continuation, GREEN MARS did not stand on its own, having no real beginning and no real end in itself. (In spite of this, it won a Hugo. I was happy to see Robinson win a Hugo--I just wish it had been for one of his other works.)

Now in BLUE MARS we have an end. (There is, of course, always room for a sequel set on "blue Mars," but it is not necessary and I doubt Robinson will write one.) However, we still have no beginning per se. We also have tons more technical areological and terraforming discussions and explications, and some characterization, mostly to wrap up the stories of the people we have been following throughout. (With all this technical detail, it's almost inevitable there will be slip- ups. For example, "Hindu" is not a language [page 406].)

I wanted to like this book. But I have to say it was too much of a good thing, too stretched out. I'm not even sure why I am saying this. People who read the first two will probably read this one for a sense of closure in any case, and people who didn't probably wouldn't read this anyway. I suppose if you want to read the entire trilogy through you will appreciate this more, but that's not likely to encompass a large number of readers.

%T      Blue Mars
%A      Kim Stanley Robinson
%C      New York
%D      July 1996
%I      Bantam Spectra
%O      hardback, US$22.95
%G      ISBN 0-553-10144-7
%P      624pp
%S      Mars
%V      3

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