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in libris

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The Norton Anthology of English Literature, Vol. A: Middle Ages
Stephen Greenblatt, Alfred David, James Simpson, M.H. Abrams
Progress: 367/543 pages

Green Mars: Robinson's Utopia

Green Mars - Kim Stanley Robinson

Green Mars is a very good novel, following up on the strengths of Red Mars but occasionally succumbing to an excess of descriptive prose (which, coming from me, means something -- I usually love detailed descriptions). Fortunately, Kim Stanley Robinson is capable of utterly mind-blowing descriptions because of his word choice and the relevance of its style or content either to the character's point of view or to the plots and themes of the novel.


This one follows mostly the First Hundred as the Mars colony evolves from a collection of frontier settlements to a "nation" (as it were) demanding autonomy or even sovereignty. The best parts of the novel involve scientific or political conferences or discussions about the future of Mars -- what it is and what it should be, especially in comparison to the history and the current political, social, and environmental situation on Earth. These are the parts of the book that qualify it as utopian literature (that is to say, literature that not only imagines what another world could be like, but engages directly with the ways in which that world could be created and with discussions of what that world should be like). Robinson's skill in developing these themes is incredible, so that when you read these parts, you truly partake of sublimity. Not to mention that everything discussed there is entirely relevant to the future of humanity...


I'm eager to see how Mars develops vis-a-vis Earth in the final volume of the trilogy, Blue Mars. Will it become Earth the way Earth could have been if we'd been wiser? Or will the utopian experiment fail? Or will humanity just bumble along and figure things out along the way? Green Mars is so successful in conveying the enormity of the utopian experiment in its moral and ethical dimensions that Blue Mars can only be seen, not as a third book in a series, but as the necessary conclusion to a grand idea. Or, at least, that's the hope.