Green Mars (Mars #2)

by Kim Stanley Robinson (1993)

4/10

This had too little of what made Red Mars good and too much of what made it bad.

You can pretty much safely skip all long paragraphs (unless there are quotations marks embedded) and know you’re missing nothing relating to the actual story. That’s because there is little to no plot for the vast majority of the novel, just descriptions of how the land looks, the research that different characters are doing, or the journeys they are making to talk to people. I skipped most of the descriptions after a while, my clues being paragraphs longer than five or six lines. It was a bizarre way to read, basically just hunting for dialogue, but it made the experience much more pleasurable.

The chronological leaps in the story were unforgivably disorienting, especially in the later chapters when decades pass between one section and the next. Two of the most compelling new characters — Nirgal and Art — are essentially abandoned after the first quarter of the book, and instead we are left with Sax and Maya, neither of whom have ever roused our empathy. Thankfully we get more of Nadia, but at this point she’s essentially a cipher since she no longer resembles at all the character we came to care for in the last book.

The chief conflict of the book only coalesced in the last 50 pages or so, and while it was resolved satisfactorily it was also too little, too late. It was incredibly frustrating that one main character didn’t kill another at an obvious point about halfway through, and then held it against another character for the rest of the book when she finished the job. It made no sense given the preparations for war they were making. Also, the few explicit sex scenes were terribly awkward.

So yeah I couldn’t recommend this unless you absolutely loved the first one. The vision is still compelling, but completely bogged down in extraneous and artless info-dumping. I don’t feel the slightest urge to read the last of the trilogy, so I’ll be leaving it here.

 

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