Friday, January 23, 2009

Kim Stanley Robinson: The Martians

I just finished Kim Stanley Robinson's collection of short stories, The Martians. It consists of numerous short works, all related to his great trilogy, "RGB Mars." A number of the stories give us more information about the relationships among the various characters. For example, one is about the relationship between Maya and Coyote. Another tells of Coyote's search for Hiroko.

Some are whimsical tales about the red nanopeople--the real Martians. Those, also, obviously never were included. Others consist of short exploratory trips and hikes on Mars. One is clearly a mythic tale, a sort of Martian Paul Bunyan.

Another is an alternate beginning to the series, in which Michel recommends against sending a large ship with the 100 to begin a colony. Instead, he suggests trips in which fewer people go and colonization takes place over decades. His recommendation is accepted, and consequently the events of the first book never "take place." The history of the eventual colonization or settlement of Mars, therefore, is very different.

The longest story is "Green Mars," a tale about climbing Olympus Mons, which I think is considered to be the tallest mountain in the solar system. KSR must be a mountain climber, because the details of that climb are so realistic.

One could read the stories without having read "RGB Mars," but it adds a lot if one has read them.

I wonder if Robinson has visited the Red Rocks area and Arches National Park of southeastern Utah. That country, some of the most beautiful and striking
scenery as anything I have found in the US, is the closest that I have seen to Robinson's description of the Martian landscape.

Highly recommended for those like me who are fascinated by and want more of

1. KSR's depiction of the colonization and settlement of Mars,
2. the Martian landscape, and
3. Mars' effects on the people
---a. who went there,
---b. who were born there, and
---c. who came afterwards.

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