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November Books 2) Moving Mars

2) Moving Mars, by Greg Bear


This Nebula winner is the autobiography of Casseia Majumdar, Martian stateswoman, who is at the heart of an independence struggle that ends up with the entire planet escaping not just politically but physically from the rest of the solar system. All kinds of resonances in here from sf's history - the three that came immediately to mind were Heinlein's The Moon is a Harsh Mistress, also his Red Planet and Asimov's very early short story, "The Weapon Too Deadly To Use". Plus the deadly nano-bots coming to life and devastating the human settlements, though a classic and almost cliched image of sf, were done very well here.

 

I really enjoyed this book and I'm rather surprised I hadn't heard more about it from others. In particular, the main hard sf element of the plot, the acquisition by a relatively weak political player (the Martian government) of what is effectively a weapon of mass destruction, seemed to me awfully relevant to contemporary politics, if anything rather more so than when the book was first published in 1993. I guess that Bear's vision of a revolutionary human society on Mars is less grandiose (though I think no less ambitious) than Kim Stanley Robinson's massive trilogy which was coming out at around the same time, and perhaps his portrayal of how the political process appears to insiders - which I felt was realistic and well-informed - was insufficiently romanticised to leave a lasting impression in people's memories.

 

I raised my eyebrows at first when Casseia was appointed to senior government office before the age of thirty (in earth years); but I had lunch yesterday with a prime minister (admittedly of a small and not-quite-independent European country) who was first appointed to that job when he was 28, and the circumstances described seemed to me to make the scenario just about plausible. And, of course, great stories are often told about unusual events.

 

Moving Mars scores very well on the sensawunda scale, better indeed than most Nebula winners. I felt it also worked well on the human level, with Casseia's decisions and mistakes, both political and personal, convincingly portrayed. I have had my complaints about some past Nebula winners, but this one was a good call.

Comments

( 4 comments — Leave a comment )
sciamanna
Nov. 3rd, 2005 09:06 pm (UTC)
Saving this one for my to-read list. Thanks!
mylescorcoran
Nov. 3rd, 2005 09:21 pm (UTC)
I'm a bit surprised by your positive review. I haven't Moving Mars but I've been unimpressed by almost everything else of Bear's I've read (about four or five other novels, IIRC). I don't think much of his use of language nor his characterisation. How would you rate Moving Mars against anything else he had written (if you've read his other work)?
nwhyte
Nov. 3rd, 2005 10:20 pm (UTC)
I remember you being very impressed with Blood Music at the time, though I was a bit underwhelmed. I was even less impressed by Darwin's Radio. But didn't he also wrote Eon which I rather enjoyed?
mylescorcoran
Nov. 3rd, 2005 10:59 pm (UTC)
Yes, Blood Music is the only novel of his I've really enjoyed, and that more for the ideas than the execution. I didn't like Eon or Slant much, and there was one, the Infinity Concerto perhaps, that I loathed and never finished.
( 4 comments — Leave a comment )

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