I’ve just finished reading Red Mars, by Kim Stanley Robinson. Again.
It’s one of my favourite books and I’ve read it a couple of times already, the first time when I was probably only 14-15.
It wasn’t until now that I realised what an effect it has had on me.
If you’ve never read it, or never heard of it, I couldn’t recommend it more. Even if you’re not so into sci-fi, I would think you would find something you like about it.
Red Mars, the first part of the Mars Trilogy describes humanity’s colonisation of the Mars. It delves into the political, economic, scientific and personal ramifications of doing so. And I now realise that it’s what made me who I am today.
I remember, I know, that reading Mars, by Ben Bova, is what started my decade long (so far) obsession with the red planet. That definitely came before. But the Bova book is… lighter, ‘pulpier’ than Robinson’s. It only really describes going to Mars–apart from the slightly silly revelation at the end, it is more of an adventure story set on Mars than a story about Mars. The characters are simpler. The situations less complex.
I not aim to criticise – I re-read the book recently with no regrets, and enjoyed the latest sequel, Mars Life, but I understand what the book is.
It is not Red Mars.
On my latest reading I realised that Red Mars is me. It is, in fact, nearly everything about me. It is my dreams, my ambitions. It is my political and economic beliefs. It is the science I love, all of it, and it is the exact combination of science and life that I so desire.
I have often wondered where a lot of this came from. It didn’t come from my parents, or any of my friends, because I share almost none of it with them. Now some of that mystery is answered.
I am Sax. I am Ann. I am Nadia. I am Arkady. I am John. All these people are me, to some extent.
I could go on, at length, until nobody could not be bored. It makes me wonder how much of these people are a part of Robinson himself, and how much are fictional, probably based on people he knows. But the fact that I can map so much of who I am onto this one book.
The other books in the Trilogy, as well as the miscellaneous collection volume The Martians are all in my reading queue, so I will no doubt write more about them.