Friday, July 23, 2010

Book Of The Week: Kim Stanley Robinson's Mars Trilogy

The Book Of The Week this week is Kim Stanley Robinson's "Red Mars", "Green Mars", "Blue Mars". This is often referred to as the Mars Trilogy, but none of these books are about Mars. There's plenty of awesome scientifically accurate detail in these books on Mars geology, the moons of Mars, Mars colonization, Mars terraforming, and even some interesting speculation about Mars native life and building a space elevator on Mars. The books are certainly set on Mars but that's as far as it goes. In my opinion, these books are as much about Mars as Hamlet is about Denmark.

These books are about politics, the real kind, and what happens when it devolves into war. The books start with group dynamics, petty infighting, the formation of camps and the inevitable fracturing of community. The lines are: those who want to terraform Mars and those who want to keep Mars red. But the battle lines don't really matter, what was shocking was how quickly those two viewpoints became irreconcilable, and dominate the entire debate - by the time the shooting starts there are no third options, you're either a green or a red.

To me, these books are Kim Stanley Robinson's cautionary tale to the space advocacy community. We are already fractured. Moon vs Mars with asteroids, orbital colonies, space solar power, spaceplanes vs VTVL, SSTOs, and all the rest. We snip and we snarl, run our separate conferences and roll out our separate experts to influence the politicians. With all the aggressive personalities that we've acquired, and even elevated to leadership positions... thankfully we're all so friendly, for now.

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