I will not be able to write a full review yet because I am barely at the half-way point of the first book, Red Mars.
But here is what I have gleaned out of the 300 pages I have read so far.
One hundred people set off from Terra to go to Mars, to make it habitable for human use. These 100 people are 35% Russian, 35% American, and 30% a mix of a number of other races, mostly mentioning the Japanese. They are half male and half female, expected to form permanent attachments on the way. Naturally, the 300+ days it takes them to get to Mars, we start seeing a lot of jealousy, splitting into factions, each faction wanting one thing, and then arguments start between members of the factions. There is one psychiatrist among the geologists, lab scientists, builders, manufacturers, medical staff, every thing that might be needed in setting up a whole new world. And he has mental problems. There are quite a few memorable names of people we start getting to know. But the main folks we are getting to know are Maya, a Russian, John and Frank, both Americans, Nadia, a Russian woman who is both a builder, and the steadiest thinker and problem solver among the group, and Hiroko, the Japanese who runs the horticultural gardens and animals. John and Frank have been long-term friends, but Maya has had sex with first Frank, and then John, and ignoring Frank. Frank is a trouble-maker, and begins to resent John because he has Maya, and is the only one who has ever been on Mars already.
Then there is Arkady, who wants his team to set up Phobos military-style, and who has a mean mouth, to keep stirring up trouble. And Ann, who does not want Mars terraformed at all, but wants to keep Mars as it is. There is also apparently a stowaway, brought on by Hiroko, and everyone is going to both Nadia and Michel, the French psychiatrist. I have already learned that Hiroko has taken her own group from the horticultural bunch and left, taking Michel and the stowaway with her/them. So far, we don’t seem to know where she is. But at the point I am at in the book, there have been several other nations who have sent ships with up to 500 people to Mars in to different places to begin building their own towns. At this point I know there are Russian towns, and Arab towns, and others like the Japanese and the Chinese.
And Ann who doesn’t want any of it (and why on earth did she choose to go with the first hundred?). And sabotage is wide-spread over Mars.
(My personal choice, had I gone on such a trip, would be to terraform Mars.)
So this is where I am in this set of books, with two more books to follow (Green Mars, Blue Mars). And what I have learned up to this point is that if 100 people cannot come up with a common agenda, there is going to be trouble. And this is exactly what is going on here in the United States, and much of the rest of the world off in its little corners.
We declare we all want to live in peace. But only if that peace comes about through each individual’s idea of what peace is. They couldn’t come up with a Declaration of Independence in the Heinlein book from the 40s. Now 50 years later, Robinson’s Trilogy is beginning to sound as if the same point is being made.
We the People, many of us, do not know how to live under a document that simply was written over 200 years ago that does not say exactly what they want it to say. I’m talking about the Constitution. I definitely could also be talking about the Ten Commandments, and then christianity has the Beatitudes to live heir lives by. But everyone wants every single document ever written to specifically say what they personally want it to say. And we/they elect politicians to stir us up over what should be minor differences between each and everyone of us to make instruction lists and want everyone to honour their own personal wishes. If 100 people cannot even come to terms with one another, how can our millions and billions of human beings on any planet live together in peace and harmony.
I think love and compassion and tolerance of our differences should be hallmarks of getting along. All the power should be left to whatever deity, or philosophy, each of us believes in. Instead, we live on a planet where there are the power-hungry, the money-hungry, the religious fanatics who have got it all wrong, and a definite criminal element which plays the system, and very few people who do not live with those mindsets, but who even have personal wants, and even those whose politics are the same cannot get along because there are other beliefs which keep getting in the say.
So here we sit, and we write, and we express our opinions to everyone whether they want to hear it or not, and we friend and then unfriend one another for disagreeing with us, and we whine day after day about things that should not even exist.
And as long as human beings exist, I doubt any planet or moon we choose to live on will be the great, peaceful place we all wish it could be.