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40. Kim Stanley Robinson: Mars Trilogy

Carol Franko

Subject Literature

Key-Topics science fiction

DOI: 10.1111/b.9781405112185.2005.00042.x


Although Victor Frankenstein, Mary Shelley's doomed or just chronically irresponsible modern Prometheus, gets talkative in the last days of his life, he never debated his Project with others when he was in the midst of creation. In contrast, the scientist-heroes in Kim Stanley Robinson's Martian future history succeed in their projects at least partly because they are forced to debate and revise them. Unlike Shelley's gothically oppressed Victor, the growth and development - the formation - of Robinson's scientists is not frozen at the moment they make spectacular mistakes. The Promethean challenge of terraforming Mars is achieved not without difficulty or opposition. The personal and political naivety of Sax Russell, terraformer extraordinaire, is broken and reformed into a wise innocence by the end of the trilogy. In the opening volume, in a heated argument with Ann Clayborne, purist-geologist (or areologist) and nay-sayer supreme, Sax makes an inspiring speech supporting terraforming, punctuated by his declarations that “Science is creation,” is “more” than studying the mineral history of Mars ( Robinson 1993 : 159), and that terraforming is even a philosophical imperative: thus Sax's Stapledonian “We are the consciousness of the universe, and our job is to spread that around, to go look at things, to live everywhere we can” ( Robinson 1993 : 159–60). Sax wins this public debate ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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