Kim Stanley Robinson, ‘Green Mars’
Something of a let-down after the incredible first book. The science is still there, but a few things have changed. The deaths of Arkady and Boone, two of the most likeable and driving characters in the first book, were no doubt essential to the plot development, but this second book suffers for their loss. The next generation of colonists in the shape of Nirgal are just not quite as likeable, and the rest of the surviving first hundred seem petty and quarrelsome. This does resolve itself somewhat after a while, but it definitely drags. The fantastic science is still there, but one feels that Robinson may have taken some liberties when he portrays Mars as riddled with water below the surface. The creation of fledgling oceans feels a little too easy. Also the language does not contain the beautiful flourishes that ‘Red Mars’ gave us, instead giving way to lengthy descriptions of scraggy plants and vast cliffs.
On the flipside, however, the influence of Earth into the day-to-day life of the planet is brilliant, and the predictions of Robinson about metanational corporations, overcrowding, anti-agathics, and the shift in power structures on the future Earth feels very well thought through, and totally believable. I feel this alone saves the book from becoming a rather dull follow-up, lacking the joy of spectacle that we got in the first novel.