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The Martians (1999)

de Kim Stanley Robinson

Altres autors: Mira la secció altres autors.

Sèrie: Mars Trilogy (4)

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1,0171516,785 (3.35)37
Kim Stanley Robinson returns to the red planet with this Nebula-nominated collection of original work. As Robinson himself states: "When I finished Blue Mars, I realized I wasn't done with Mars yet. I decided to make a collection of Martian tales ... functioning as the trilogy's 'unconscious' or 'secret history' ... I hope they add up to my own version of a Martian Chronicles".… (més)
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Since I'm already crazy about Robinson and I've read all his Mars novels, I can't imagine whether someone who wasn't & hadn't would love this collection of stories as much as I did. But I think so! I like those novels a lot, but I think that these things-that-happened-in-between stories make even better use of his good and strange qualities-- he gets to use the colonization of Mars as an all-purpose playground for whatever he might want to say about politics, love, hiking, baseball, etc., without having to worry at all about sustaining a single plot or style (or even a character-- some of the stories are just Transcendentalist travelogues told by no one in particular). Although it's interesting to see what he does with some of his existing people, the background isn't necessary to know, and sometimes he just throws it all away to write an alternate history or a memoir or whatever (there's even a dirty Paul Bunyan myth). He's particularly good at writing about small-scale politics, just people dealing with each other, with massive empathy all around. Also, although I'm kind of a sucker, some of the writing in this made me bust out crying on the train. ( )
  elibishop173 | Oct 11, 2021 |
Short stories from the Mars trilogy, which really must have been read first otherwise these will make no sense at all. Mostly they seem to be out-takes, small sidelines and excerpts from characters who didn't get much voice in the full novels, with perhaps the exception of Eileen Morning who features in a few of these, but whom I don't remember at all. The timeline generally progresses forward, with some skips, and includes major spoilers for all of the novels, as the important events are frequently discussed or reminisced by the characters.

It's always a little difficult to review short story collections because the nature of short stories makes them so variable. That these are all thematically linked the main novels is significant factor, but even here they're highly variable from very emotionally driven stories of partnerships across the decades, to a more cerebral philosophical examination of motives. My favourites were perhaps the extended climb up Olympus Mons, which highlights KSRs technical outdoor skills that are a feature in many of his books. Perhaps my least favourite were the collection of poems, mostly non-rhyming without obvious meter, but even here some were notably better.

Well worth reading for anyone who enjoyed the vastness of the Mars trilogy and wants more stories in that world. They are much more personal than the novels which is no bad thing, but without the grand insights that the novels captured. It did make me want to re-read the originals. ( )
2 vota reading_fox | Aug 11, 2020 |
I tell people that short story collections aren't novels. This, you might think, is obvious. Yet many people insist upon reading them as if they were novels; start at page one and carry on until page the last. I think this might be why some people end up not liking the short story form: they think the way to read them is 10 - 20 at a time by one author, one shortly after the other. This may not be the best way. I encourage people to think of each story as the basic element, not each volume. Read them in any order you like, read only one then put it back on the shelf, if you want. They are almost always published individually in magazines prior to collection in paperback volumes. Treat them that way and they might appear in a new light.

If my theory were a submarine, this book is the depth charge that sinks it: not only is it necessary to read the stories in order for it all to make sense, it is best read whilst the details of KSR's Mars trilogy are still fresh in the mind (which wasn't the case for me), because we're back on Mars with the First Hundred and others for some stories that didn't quite fit in the novels and they are told in chronological order...except when we aren't, that is. You need to keep your wits about you: some of the stories aren't set on Mars - some are set in an alternative timeline from that set out in the novels. Many assume you know the characters and plot of the novels. Some of the newer characters recurr so that later stories will make much more sense if you've read the earlier ones.

The alternative timeline isn't the only experimental aspect of the collection. Some of the pieces are just documents, e.g. a series of abstracts from scientific papers debating the origin of nanobacteria - native Martian or Earth contaminent? The Martian Constitution in full and a commentary on it. And there's more: a story about KSR finishing writing the Mars novels, a small collection of "poems" - see later.

The quality of the stories varies, some of the experiments are successes, others failures. The best are truely excellent and sometimes shocking. The worst are miserable creatures, not fit for the light of day. I don't like sports stories generally. Baseball stories are the worst of a dire genre. So a "baseball on Mars" story is just awful...the "poems" lack all merit. How many writers have been successful novelists and poets? Scott and Hardy. Can you name another? KSR's verses here don't really seem to demonstrate a grasp of what a poem is, let alone act as exemplars of the form.

But the best stories are great and usually heavily informed by both character and landscape (which will be no surprise to KSR fans). KSR's ability to write about landscape is in fact comparable to Thomas Hardy's. They both make you see it as if you've been there, which makes sense with Hardy's Wessex and KSR's California because they respectively lived in those places. But KSR can make you see the Dry Valleys of Antarctica just as well - OK, he's been there for a few days. But Mars? He makes me see Mars just as well. This is the basis of my theory that KSR is an alien in disguise: he can describe Mars just as well as he can describe the Californian coastline - because he's been there, too!

So that feat never ceases to amaze me and KSR has another talent that is rare - he can write excellently about mountaineering - which is just as well as one of the stories, the longest in fact, is about climbing the solar system's largest mountain, Olympus Mons. The story is thematically like the Mars Trilogy in miniature at least in respect of the whole Red-Green debate. I'm a Red. In fact my Redness is so saturated it is almost black. So I sympathise with that story's main protagonist. (Don't read that story whilst depressed, however - you may not survive to finish it.)

So I rate this volume at three stars - but that is like the mean of the temperature across a year in New York: not much different from that of, say London, but the extremes are much greater. In fact all fans of the Mars Trilogy should read this book remember its triumphs and forget its failures. Kudos to KSR for taking all the risks he did in this book, the ones that pay off are jackpot winners. ( )
  Arbieroo | Jul 17, 2020 |
This book confirms my feeling that Robinson is one of the best sf writers in existence today. He takes the world he created in the Mars trilogy and expands and adds to it so that I can tell it is real to him. For heavens sake, he even has the constitution and notes on the constitution. (And it all makes so much sense that I wish I could live there.) He also gives us a glimpse of his own life and I could see the genesis of some of the story in the climate change trilogy that is his latest work.

If I had to choose a favourite story I think it would be Green Mars, the story of the climbing party on Olympic Mons. It really made me feel like I was there, experiencing the climb. And that also gives me a glimpse into Robinson's life because he must be a climber. ( )
  gypsysmom | Aug 7, 2017 |
This is a collection of short stories and poems based on the universe portrayed in Kim Stanley Robinson's Mars trilogy: Red Mars, Green Mars, and Blue Mars. These stories complement the novels. But they are uneven, some are good and expand on the backstory behind the original novels, others are padding that could have been left out. This collection does not rise to the heights of the original trilogy, and is probably meaningless to those who have not read the original books.

1. Michel in Antarctica - A group of people build and live in a settlement in one of the dry Antarctic valleys as a precursor to settling on Mars. But not all of them would make it to Mars. And it was Michel's job, as one of four psychologists, to evaluate the suitability of the candidates for life on Mars. He studied the individuals and the group dynamics, trying to stay detached while attracted to the women and admiring the men. He worried that the group were all going insane slowly in the sunless winter, and thus would never survive on Mars. So he had misgivings about the planned Mars project.

2. Exploring Fossil Canyon - Follows a group of amateur hikers exploring a canyon complex that has had little human presence, even though humans had been living on Mars for several generations. They endure a sandstorm that results in the group becoming dangerously dispersed. Before the storm, one of the group found a canyon with stones that looked like fossil sea shells.

3. The Archaea Plot - A supposed plot by ancient native lifeforms to reclaim Mars from the human invaders.

4. The Way The Land Spoke To Us - A description of some of the Martian terrain, and what this means for people traversing it.

5. Maya and Desmond - One woman's search for a stowaway, Desmond, on board the spaceship carrying the first 100 settlers to Mars, and, once found, the assistance she gives him. Subsequently it follows Maya and her occasional encounters with Desmond.

6. Four Telelogical Trails - Wrong way: a hiker discovers a blazed trail in Crommelin Crater and follows it. Mistakes Can Be Good: a son takes his parents on a taxing trail with a rewarding end. You Can't Lose the Trail: rediscovering the lost trails in Crommelin Crater. The Natural Genius: a hiker has fun following bits of old trails, finding the next one, and questioning whether the trail he thought he saw was actually there.

7. Coyote Makes Trouble - the radical reds plan to sabotage the terraforming. But Coyote has his own plan for a visible protest.

8. Michel in Provence - almost a hundred years after the first Martian settlement, Michel is back on Earth, in particular His home in Provence. He reflects on life on Mars. He meets Maya at a space habitation conference in Nice, and their relationship is rekindled for a few days. But each is stuck in their own world.

9. Green Mars - a group of people prepare to climb an escarpment on Olympus Mons. Roger Clayborne is a last minute addition to the party after resigning his position as Minister of the Interior. For him, this climb is an epiphany.

10. Arthur Sternbach Brings the Curveball to Mars - baseball on Mars is different: the outfield is bigger, and getting batters out is harder. But an American teaches a native-born Martian how to throw a curve ball.

11. Salt and Fresh - suggests that Mars was inhabited by single-celled creatures called Archaea, which are plotting to reclaim Mars, or at least some of them might be.

12. The Constitution of Mars - a proposal for a legal constitution that describes how Mars is to be governed.

13. Some Worknotes and Commentary on the Constitution - some comments on the Mars Constitution based on experience.

14. Jackie on Zo - a mother's recollection of giving birth and raising a child on Mars.

15. Keeping the Flame - Nirgal encounters a strange Greek-style monument. While there, two of the first hundred arrive. They tell him that the monument is a memorial to Phyllis Boyle, who was their colleague. And they reminisce about the past.

16. Saving Noctis Dam - the dam was built in the Noctis Canyon, but it was botched having been built in part on sandstone. And the first severe rainstorms had a devastating effect on the dam, which was on the verge of collapse.

17. Big Man in Love - a myth about a demi-god called Big Man and his supposed relationship with a cloned descendant of John Boone, the first man on Mars.

18. An Argument for the Deployment of All Safe Terraforming Technologies - the landscape of Mars undergoes continual change as the water flows. But during the 2210s decade, the climate started to cool. As a result, lots of methods were proposed to stop this trend. One group surfs the big waves.

19. Selected Abstracts from the Journal of Areological Studies - several extracts debate the possiblity of ancient life forms on Mars.

20. Odessa - memories of time spent in the town of Odessa.

21. Sexual Dimorphism - one man investigates the adaptation of various cetaceans to a changing environment. He feels marginalised as his research appears to be increasingly unimportant. He also feels that the relationship with his partner is cooling.

22. Enough is as Good as a Feast - a description of the settlement of craters, which developed into towns. A man remembers life in a agricultural commune.

23. What Matters - after breaking up with his partner, Peter Clayborne decides to take a long walk along the rims of some canyons. He meets Roger Clayborne at a Swiss restaurant. As they enjoy dinner, large groups of people arrive to celebrate Fassnacht.

24. Coyote Remembers - Coyote reminisces about past relationships.

25. Sax Moments - various moments in Sax's life during his recovery from a stroke, from absurd science to considering the science of memory.

26. A Martian Romance - the relationship between Eileen Monday and Roger Clayborne following their expedition climbing Olympus Mons. Mars is cooling, and the introduced animal and plant life is going through a mass extinction. The group goes on an ice sailing trip.

27. If Wang Lei Lived on Mars and other poems - a series of poems about imagining life on Mars.

28. Purple Mars - the author's day is he finishes his novel about Mars. ( )
  Bruce_McNair | Dec 11, 2016 |
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Kim Stanley Robinson returns to the red planet with this Nebula-nominated collection of original work. As Robinson himself states: "When I finished Blue Mars, I realized I wasn't done with Mars yet. I decided to make a collection of Martian tales ... functioning as the trilogy's 'unconscious' or 'secret history' ... I hope they add up to my own version of a Martian Chronicles".

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