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Red Mars

Narrated by: Richard Ferrone
Series: Mars Trilogy , Book 1
Length: 23 hrs and 51 mins
4 out of 5 stars (380 ratings)

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Summary

Winner of the Nebula Award for Best Novel, Red Mars is the first book in Kim Stanley Robinson's best-selling trilogy. Red Mars is praised by scientists for its detailed visions of future technology. It is also hailed by authors and critics for its vivid characters and dramatic conflicts.

For centuries, the red planet has enticed the people of Earth. Now an international group of scientists has colonized Mars. Leaving Earth forever, these 100 people have traveled nine months to reach their new home. This is the remarkable story of the world they create - and the hidden power struggles of those who want to control it.

Although it is fiction, Red Mars is based on years of research. As living spaces and greenhouses multiply, an astonishing panorama of our galactic future rises from the red dust. Through Richard Ferrone's narration, each scene is energized with the designs and dreams of the extraordinary pioneers.

©1993 Kim Stanley Robinson (P)2000 Recorded Books

Critic reviews

"Generously blending hard science with canny insight into human strengths and weaknesses, this suspenseful sf saga should appeal to a wide range of readers." ( Library Journal)
"The ultimate in future history." ( Daily Mail)

What members say

Average customer ratings

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Epic, intelligent, hard sci fi

Amazing, ambitious book covering humans' first colonisation of Mars and dealing in a highly plausible way with all the challenges they face in first surviving and then deciding what to do to the planet. Very strong character development and intriguing characters struggling with big questions in science and economics which are all meticulously researched. Only occasionally let down in the descriptions of the environment where it's sometimes hard to work out quite what's going on. Good narrator performance albeit not very varied. Also the book is quite 'serious' and the characters are not a barrel of laughs. Overall though a very impressive achievement.

5 of 5 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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Fantastic read

The narrator seems odd initially, but asit goes on, you realise he's a perfect fit!

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars

Epic scope, pedestrian delivery

Let's start with the positives: the audio production of this recording is excellent and the narrator is top notch.

The book itself is epic in scope and tells the story of the settlement and terraforming of Mars in great detail. As far as I can ascertain, the author's research is impeccable and the descriptions of Martian geography and scientific processes are inspired.

So, what's the problem?

Well, there's the length, and there's the pace of the story. Even if it were only half its current length, this would be a big book. To sustain such a long narrative, you would hope for interesting characters, lively prose and plenty of incident and excitement. Sadly, all of these ingredients are absent.

The story unfolds at a glacial pace and the author studiously avoids anything approaching adventure. There are storms, but everyone survives them without too much difficulty. There are many journeys, all of them long, during which little or nothing happens. A mystery is solved in a dull and perfuctory fashion.

Events do finally take a more interesting turn in the final third of the book, but even so, there is too little danger and too much talk.

The prose is functional and competent but nothing more. The characters are flat and two-dimensional and given to delivering set speeches on scientific and political topics. Many of the minor characters seem to be there solely to provide information dumps.

There is plenty of New Age philosophising and cross-cultural apologetics along the way, all of which is no doubt very worthy, but this listener soon tired of it and longed for something interesting to happen. Some sections of this book sound like an attempt at dramatising whole articles from Wikipedia.

So: a long book which is well read and which has some fascinating scientific detail, but which offers little in the way of excitement or interesting characterisation.

I love science fiction, but I'm afraid that I found 'Red Mars' very dull.

15 of 22 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Jason
  • LondonUnited Kingdom
  • 23-04-09

Boring

I note that it is highly rated by many people but I found it over-long with stereotypical characters one couldn't empathise with. The book is often commended for its well researched detail but the amount of detail acts as padding and gets in the way of the story - an encyclopaedia may have lots of well researched detail but that doesn't make it a good novel.

16 of 25 people found this review helpful

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Epic. very long but worth it!

very long but worth it! Thought provoking while being enjoyably. so many different aspects, philosophies and ideas combined into one great narrative.

2 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Danielle
  • Broendby StrandDenmark
  • 07-09-09

Big Snooze

The books flits about from one (of the many characters) to another without going into depth and allowing you the chance to empathise. This makes their petty squabbles as to how the planet should be handled irrelevant to the reader. You never really get to understand the reasoning behind each characters stand point only their actions as to what they will do to protect their way of thinking. I also bought the sequels Green and Blue - and it doesn't get any better or more interesting.

7 of 13 people found this review helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

Interesting! if you love science...

A great idea, but in construction pretty poor. Character development was my main concern as I found it very difficult to construct an idea of what the characters were like. However the science/terraforming aspect was very interesting with a calculated depiction of what life on Mars could be like. Overall, way too long and could almost be made into a fact book instead of a story.

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    3 out of 5 stars
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Full on descriptions which distract from the story

Comprehensive and full-on descriptions of the environment and situations which does at times distract from the actual story line, making it feel long winded. Also occasionally the narration seems to make a slight pause or break as if it's the end of a paragraph but then continues as the same sentence, which can be a bit jarring to the listener. An ok story but not sure if I will be getting the next book in this series

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Exploratory mars based habitat adventure take me 2

Loved it, this epic story was probably the most in-depth mars based science fiction writing I've ever been privileged to experience!

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars

way too long

it was too long to have a single story. sub stories merged into more such stories

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  • JLM
  • 21-08-12

Old School Hard Sci Fi, but softly

What made the experience of listening to Red Mars the most enjoyable?

Science, yes, but also relationships, pathos and politics interact to make this a pretty fun listen. I like these long intertwined stories of science, world building, yet not necessarily space opera-y. Not so far in the future that you can;t imagine it ...kinda...
But you have to be interested in the science to enjoy this, it is an integral part of the story.

24 of 24 people found this review helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
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  • David
  • 17-05-14

The first Mars colony

Kim Stanley Robinson's Mars trilogy is well-regarded by SF fans, but it didn't really live up to the hype for me, though it's an excellent entry in the hard SF genre. Robinson's prose is not as lyrical as Ray Bradbury's, but it's not as dry as Ben Bova's either. Red Mars seems to synthesize elements from all of Robinson's predecessors — it's a Heinleinesque adventure at times, with hard SF infodumps, but actual characters, and shout-outs to every author who's ever touched Mars, including Burroughs.

Red Mars is the tale of the first Martian colony, and covers a couple of generations of history. The "First Hundred" who established the original settlement become larger-than-life, almost mythical figures to those who follow after them, but as Mars begins to be taken over by political and economic factions bringing old issues of exploitation and oppression (followed by resistance and terrorism) from Earth, the Hundred are just as conflicted and prone to squabbling and working at cross-purposes as all the other settlers.

Early on, there is a huge debate over terraforming Mars, eventually becoming a conflict between the "Reds" and the "Greens." Eventually other cultures arrive on Mars and have their own ideas of what it means to be a Martian settler. Muslims make up a substantial segment of the population, as do Russians and other nationalities, all wanting to have an equal stake in Martian society.

The ending shows the surviving members of the Hundred witnessing what happens after decades of emigration and development on Mars, with much of what has been built up brought down by an uprising among the children of Mars.

If you are a space exploration geek, and especially if you are one of those who still dreams of a Mars expedition in our lifetime, then Red Mars may fire you up with a realistic view of what emigration to Mars might actually look like. It is almost certainly not an accurate picture of what will actually happen, should we ever get that far, but it's a realistic picture of what could happen.

I give this book 4 stars for being one of the best Mars books out there, but not 5 stars, because the story and the characters just did not grab me enough to wonder, "What happens next?"

31 of 32 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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  • Paul
  • 05-01-09

If you like books with DETAIL not much Action

I can see why the book won awards. The thought that went into this work is VERY good. It kept me listening to the end but it was just so that I could get to the end. It is a detailed look at what colonization would truly be like with all the good and bad points. If you want an action book this is probably NOT for you.

35 of 37 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Angela
  • 09-10-09

A true masterpiece

Red Mars (and The Mars Trilogy in general) asks big questions: How can we start over and recreate society, taking out the bad stuff and saving the good stuff? Can we escape history and remake ourselves into something that overcomes oppression of women, slavery, racism, greed, militarism, environmental destructiveness? Can we turn our society into a means for giving every member of that society a chance to achieve his or her own potential? These are big questions; they can't be answered with bumper sticker slogans. It takes a lot of detail and careful, thoughtful discussion to address them. So while a lot happens in this series, it isn't Star Trek. Problems aren't easily resolved. Situations are never black and white. The characters change, grow, and even forget how they got to the present.

For readers who like a lot of meat to chew over, these books are probably among the greatest written in the 20th century - obsessively researched, thickly layered with meaning and analysis; the whole series is something that you can listen to time and again, and hear something different every time. The characters are archetypes; even their names express who they are - but they are also real people, with real emotions, amazingly and skillfully brought to life. The issues discussed are both a comment on the present (and history) and, in the best tradition of science fiction, an analysis of future possibilities. I can't recommend the entire series more highly for the reader who enjoys this sort of thing. But be forewarned - there are bad reviews here, and I'm guessing they are from people who were looking for something different - lots of plot and action, perhaps a little less analysis. I enjoy those books too, so I'm not saying that as a criticism of those who didn't find this to their liking. I'm just saying that there are plenty of other books that fill this role. The Mars Trilogy is something else entirely.

18 of 19 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Kindle Customer
  • 03-05-08

Epic, brilliant

I've read these books twice and was thrilled to see them come out as audio books. They are a committment, not a quick sci-fi fix, but they are truly amazing in the scope, detail, character development and realistic approach the author takes in developing a society on Mars. I can say this is my favorite sci-fi series of all time - and I have read many. There are a lot of characters and I must admit I'm sure it helps I've read the books in print, but if you're used to really listening to complex books these will definitely be worth your time. The narrator is fine, steady and unobtrusive in his reading. I highly recommend this series if a major work of amazing sci-fi is what you are looking for.

39 of 44 people found this review helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Kindle Customer
  • 29-12-14

I wish there was a different narrator. :(

It's necessary to explain how I listen to my audio books right now. I play them at night, when I lay down and play my games, and during the night. I hear a lot more of the books than one might think.

With that explained, RED MARS begins as a 100 person trip to Mars of the best (insert here), to live on Mars. Sounds simple? Ain't.

I don't like to knock people at their jobs. This fellow shouldn't give up his day job. There are SO many opportunities in this book for a good narrator, or group of narrators. The characters are so rich and diverse. Even among the Americas, there's not really much in the way of differentiation. But even KNOWING there were Russians, Iranian, Iraqi, Shiite, Egyptian, Japanese, Chinese, German, and on and on--my memory is lacking--when I listen to this book I FORGET that Sasha and Nadya are Russian, cause they sound like everyone else. The only group he accented were Southern, and he didn't get us right. The way he reads the book is like all the countries had a prerequisite, and only one. If you go to Mars, you have to speak darn good English--unless you're Southern!

I'm sorry I''ve rambled, but one more thing. He keeps mispronouncing words!

This is a decent book. What a shame to do that to a book.

18 of 21 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Ian
  • 18-11-09

Mars Unleashed

Kim Stanley Robinson has created the most imaginable colonization of Mars. I found the Audio book captivating. Having read all 3 books in the series, I can say that the concepts in the books are completely realistic. The reader does a really good job of portraying the characters in the Novel, each character is distinct in my mind.

I have really enjoyed this Audio book.

12 of 14 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
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    1 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    2 out of 5 stars
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  • Dana
  • 17-07-08

very long

This is a strange book. The writing is very competent. The aim seems to be to give a hyper-realistic account of what the colonization of Mars might be like, and some of the descriptive passages are startlingly evocative despite the audio narrator's relentless efforts to conceal the meaning of the sentences. The passages about science and technology are interesting even though most of them fail to advance the plot an inch. The plot is for all practical purposes nonexistent. There is a determined effort to shape realistic characters, but overall they are little different from soap opera people. There are long summary passages that sound like back story from notebooks. The characters argue and fight about things that might be important, but in their mouths sound trivial. Most action scenes come off as eighth-grade bullies' scuffles. Despite the intent to realism, I found it hard to believe that the first shipload of Martian colonists would be debating whether to completely throw out the colonization plans made on Earth (which by that time would have been decades in preparation) and with no replacement plans of their own, just naive political and social abstractions. Anyone with a disposition to disrupt the plans would have been screened out by NASA years before. The audio narrator is barely listenable; he is one of those readers with no ear for the rhythms and stresses of English, and who seems to believe words have no inherent meaning or feeling and he has to inject it, mostly resulting in relentlessly mis-stressed words and phrases to the disruption of the feeling that does reside there. The story being slow, the characters adolescent, and the reading poor, what allowed me to listen to this for the full 24 hours were that Robinson's workmanlike feel for English is usually strong enough to override the reader's misrepresentation of the sentences, and that occasionally a passage describing Mars arises vividly, worth waiting for over long, long stretches.

53 of 65 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Bill W.
  • 29-06-14

A great book, but a poor reading

Would you say that listening to this book was time well-spent? Why or why not?

I have read the book before and enjoyed listening to it as an Audiobook.

What other book might you compare Red Mars to and why?

There are a number of sci fi books that cover similar territory, such as Mars, Moving Mars, and The Moon is a Harsh Mistress.

Would you be willing to try another one of Richard Ferrone’s performances?

I would look for other narrators before listening to another book read by Richard Ferrone. This book, with a large international cast of characters, calls for someone who could do at least basic accents to differentiate the characters. Ferrone doesn't attempt this. Even if you forgive that, he often puts emphasis in strange places that obfuscate the meaning of the words. He also clearly does not have a background in the sciences and much of his technical vocabulary is mispronounced. For a book with as much technical vocabulary as this, that gets really annoying.

Do you think Red Mars needs a follow-up book? Why or why not?

It has one (Green Mars). It also as a prequel (Antarctica), which is unfortunately not available as an audio book.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars
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  • Eric
  • 27-09-09

Tedious

This is a very tedious book to read. No main characters or even character development. Everything the author started to develop a character they were killed off. There are a lot of blind alleys ... interesting things at the beginning of the book that I thought may be clues to the story but were never developed. Almost like this book is a bunch of bits & pieces of stories all loosely glued together.

12 of 16 people found this review helpful