Cascoly Books - Mars Trilogy
Kim Stanley Robinson
These books give an incredibly realistic account of the terraforming [areoforming?] of Mars in the mid 21st century. Written in the early 90's the details may be passed by recent Rover and other explorations, but the vivid sense of place amid the weird geology of the red planet makes this trilogy continue to spark thoughts days and weeks after reading it. I used the National Geographic maps of Mars as a reading aide, but found that I started thinking of Mars in terms of Robinson's books, and not just as a fictional construct. [
Like all great science fiction, the hard science is matched by the explorations into human existence, in this case, following the attempts by many of the 'first hundred' Martian settlers to opt out of the cycle of capitalism and global exploitation that at the time of the books, sees the earth searching desperately for resources off planet. Various forms of anarchism and communalism are attempted, hampered always by interference from the global transnationals that run earth. Red, Green and Blue take on vivid and metaphorical significance as the factions vie for control of the planet.
It's interesting to compare Robinson's story of latter day colonialism with the musings of George Orwell on planetary exploration 50 years earlier:
When you have got this planet of ours perfectly into trim, you start upon the enormous task of reaching and colonising another. But this is merely to push the objective further into the future; the objective itself remains the same. Colonise another planet, and the game of mechanical progress begins anew; for the foolproof world you have substituted the foolproof solar system-the foolproof universe.
From Green Mars:
The land they were crossing now was dominated by crater rings, the newer ones
overlapping and even burying older ones. "This is called saturation crate ring.
Very ancient ground." A lot of the craters had no raised rims at all, but were
simply shallow flat-bottomed round
holes in the ground. "What happened to the rims?"
Scientist as Hero
But no. That was analogy rather than homology. What in the I humanities they would call a heroic simile, if he understood the ( term, or a metaphor, or some other kind of literary analogy. And I analogies were mostly meaningless-a matter of phenotype rather than genotype (to use another analogy). Most of poetry and literature, really all the humanities, not to mention the social sciences, were phenotypic as far as Sax could tell. They added up to a huge compendium of meaningless analogies, which did not help to explain things, but only distorted perception of them. A kind of continuous conceptual drunkenness, one might say. Sax himself much preferred exactitude and explanatory power,'and why not? If it was 200 Kelvin outside why not say so, rather than talk about witches' I tits and the like, hauling the whole great baggage of the ignorantIpast along to obscure every encounter with sensory reality? It was absurd.
So, okay, there was no such thing as cultural polyploidy. There was just a determinate historical situation, the consequence of all that had come before-the decisions made, the results spreading ,out over the planet in complete disarray, evolving, or one should I say developing, without a plan. Planless. In that regard there was a similarity between history and evolution, in that both of them were matters of contingency and accident, as well as patterns of development. But the differences, particularly in time scales, were I so gross as to make that similarity nothing more than analogy again. I No, better to concentrate on homologies, those structural simIilarities that indicated actual physical relationships, that really exp!ained something. This of course took one back into science. But after an encounter with Phyllis, that was just what he wanted. .
So he dove back into studying plants. Many of the fellfield Organisms he was finding had hairy leaves, and very thick leaf surfaces, which helped protect the plants from the harsh UV blast of Martian sunlight. These adaptations could very well be examples of homologies, in which species with the same ancestors had all kept family traits. Or they could be examples of convergence, in which species from separate phyla had come to the same forms through functional necessity. And these days' they could also be simply the result of bioengineering, the breeders adding the same I traits to different plants in order to provide the same advantages
Annals of the Former World -- - John McPhee
Oddly, the only books that envision the power of tectonic events as well are the Mars Trilogy of Kim Stanley Robinson
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