Blue Mars - Kim Stanley Robinson

 

*** A look into the future, but without a plot

It was really difficult for me to finish reading this book. If I hadn’t purchased the print edition, I probably wouldn’t have gone beyond the first 30-50 pages. Yet I had read the previous ones, “Red Mars” and “Green Mars”, and thought I was prepared.
Well, I was wrong.
“Red Mars” actually had a nice, intriguing storyline, starting with a murder and then taking us back to make up what had happened. It was full of pure scientific speculation in the field of astronautics and the colonisation of Mars. Sure, those parts were long, but they were well balanced with the events narrated, and since I found them interesting, their reading had gone smoothly. Less interesting were those related to psychological topics, which in fact I’m not at all ashamed to say I skipped. However, despite everything, it had a plot that, for better or worse, developed throughout the novel. There was a bit of intrigue, even suspense, which made me want to keep reading to find out what happened next (or what had happened before). Although I did not appreciate the ending, I had no doubts that I had read a novel with all the elements necessary to be defined as such.
With “Green Mars”, things got more difficult. The author focused more on the individual stories, one by one, which tended to end when I began to get attached to the characters. The minor appreciation I had in reading this book led me to delay reading the last of the trilogy for several years. I only started reading it because I already had it and it seemed only right to get to the end of the story.
What I would not have expected was the absence of a real story.
“Blue Mars” is Robinson’s attempt to imagine the future of humanity’s conquest of space, starting from Mars and then going beyond. World building is, in fact, exceptional and represents the reason why I decided to give the book three stars, instead of the two that better reflect my feelings.
Robinson certainly did some huge research to write it. And he shows an immense fantasy. I can only bow to these two aspects.
Moreover, with his beautiful prose, he describes a terraformed Mars that is certainly fascinating.
But he forgot that he was writing a novel, which, as such, needs a plot, in which the characters must have a purpose to achieve, conflicts to deal with and a growth of some kind, and above all that the reader expects a story arc.
But there was none of this.
Each part is narrated from the point of view of a character, but in fact, nothing or at least nothing relevant happens. We continue to move forward in the decades and to pass from one telling to another of political developments and the description of places. Through numerous long pages, full of reports, everything is told and almost nothing is shown. The few real scenes, that is, those in which the characters interact or even speak to each other, add nothing to the narrative, since there really isn’t one. The characters are in fact just a side element.
The reason it took me over four months to read this book is that it bored me terribly.
And, when I was not bored, I felt a sense of sadness for the glimpses of existence (often depressing) of the characters that the author threw there, from time to time, to avoid turning the book into a speculative essay on the future.


Blue Mars on Amazon.


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