Wednesday, January 26, 2005

Blue Mars by Kim Stanley Robinson

I finally finished reading Kim Stanley Robinson's Blue Mars, the last book of Mars Trilogy. What a waste of time this turned out to be. Over 2000 pages to arrive at a pathetic melodramatic ending worthy of a romance novel. Such a letdown... which I should've expected given the size of the trilogy and KSR's inability to bring any thread to a close anywhere in the first two books. Will I ever learn? The third book is hardly even a novel. It picks up exactly where the second one leaves off, with a smaller break in the narrative than between two adjacent chapters. And it ends just like the first two - with another war/revolution. Except this time KSR does not even bother to make it believable and instead goes for some kind of utopia where "make love not war" crowd prevails. The only two characters with some depth, bitter ideological enemies through all of the trilogy, suddenly kiss, make up and jump into the bed for some geriatric sex. Yuck. KSR touched on some very promising subjects, such as the balance between terraforming and preservation, the overpopulation of Earth, the multinational corporations and world government, the integration of immigrants, the role of an individual in history... But all of these topics went absolutely nowhere. Instead, KSR got distracted by weather patterns, geriatric medicine, geology of the asteroid belt, lichens, neurotics, Kelvins, pseudo-scientific gybberish, and lots of sex. Too many subjects, too little depth. Like trying to combine Arthur C. Clarke with Leo Tolstoy and getting the sketchiness of the former and wordiness of the latter. I feel like I watched a week-long marathon of a day-time soap opera. A mindnumbing and completely regrettable experience. It would've been so much better if the contents of the trilogy were packaged as a series of short stories or novels, each with its own theme and story, perhaps sharing some of the characters and time lines. But that would require a talent for making a point, finishing a thought, wrapping things up. The talent which KSR has so far failed to demonstrate. Or maybe he should've just given Red Mars a proper conclusion and stopped to think if he had anything else to say on the subject. He would've ended up with a great novel and lots of free time, and spared the rest of us the effort of working through books 2 and 3. Regrettably, he chose quantity over quality.

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