Kim Stanley Robinson continues his epic of Mars colonization in Green Mars.
Red Mars won the 1993 Nebula Award for best novel, and this, its sequel, garnered the
Hugo Award for best novel in 1994. With good reason; the continuing story of the First Hundred and their
intellectual and biological offspring is richly peopled, believably plotted, and chock-full
of good hard science that Robinson expertly renders accessible to his lay readers.
The original colonists are now the First Hundred in name only; accidents, assassinations
and one case of stubbornly resistant disease have diminished their true numbers.
The upheavals, floods and explosions of 2061 made Maya, Hiroko, Sax, Ann, and the rest of the First Hundred
keenly aware of their visibility as symbols of controversy and rebellion. Most have been
in hiding in the intervening years as Earth continues to send a steady stream of new
colonists to its nearest habitable neighbor. The legacy of 2061, World War III in all but name,
is an Earth gone down a road of governments taken over by metanational corporations and
a widening gap between the haves and have-nots -- those who are rich, powerful, or employed
by a metanat receive timely longevity treatments; the rest of the population of the home
planet has a difficult wait that may end before treatment can be divvied out by governments.
With populations exploding and natural resources waning, both the metanats and the masses
view Mars as a safety valve. The threat of inundation, control, and exploitation by Earth brings
the fractured remains of the First Hundred together, despite their sometimes extreme ideological
differences, to effect what is best for the planet they now call home. Metanat security forces
continue to try to sniff out the legendary original settlers and eliminate them as rallying points
for the fiercely independent population of Mars; so it is that Maya, Nadia, Michel and Sax join
forces with an emissary of a metanat that just might be better than a lesser evil. Some of the
First Hundred take on new identities tendered them by the forever-neutral Swiss; some, like Hiroko
and Coyote, continue to do their work wholly in the "underground," remaining hidden in plain sight
on the polar caps, in the demimonde cities, and other sanctuaries while they gently but insistently
push the areophany, a Gaia-like theory of oneness with the planet. Sax Russell and his followers
keep working on making the surface of the planet viable, while Ann Clayborne and her Reds and Mars-Firsters
insist on absolutely minimal change being made to the planet's surface and atmosphere.
The second- and third-generation children of Mars scatter across the spectrum
of ideologies, charismatic leaders themselves whose ultimate goal, at least, is
the same: independence from the Earth, a planet with no sentimental foothold
whatsoever in their consciousness. As the face of Mars changes, a revolution
bides its time, waiting impatiently for the trigger event that will provide the
perfect, probably only opportunity for the denizens of Mars to begin to
secure an independent, self-assertive collective soul.