Red Mars

I’m reading Kim Stanley Robinson’s masterpiece, Red Mars. Fascinating stuff.

At first, I was excited diving into a new world, a bold and much-anticipated adventure. Then perhaps a third of the way through, things got strange and muddled and unclear. I no longer felt so excited, mostly confused. Wondering if the plot would ever sort itself out. Curious if the author hand anything to offer beyond beautiful landscape language.

I’m glad I stuck it out. Now, three-quarters of the way through, I’m supremely impressed at the scope of this work. Its ambition is staggering. A bit flowery and poetic compared with Asimov’s Foundation—and more than I can sufficiently appreciate or enjoy—but truly marvelous nonetheless. A worthy addition to the sci-fi halls of fame. More artistic and nuanced and under-appreciated, put side-by-side with Andy Weir’s mainstream blockbuster adventure hit, The Martian. The grandiosity is Game of Thrones-esque.

Robinson’s book, like all great literary works, does something magical to the reader’s mind. It distills the human experience and feeds it back to us with flavor, revealing new dimensions. It observes, with compelling stickyness, where we Homo sapiens have been and where we might be going.

As someone interested in the craft of writing, I find myself constantly wondering about the medium—attempting to articulate to myself its essence. Robinson has provided something of an answer for me, or at least an anchoring piece of the puzzle.

Writing is merely observation. A take on the world rendered meaningful in communication. It may or may not be immediately useful, but it’s ideally a beautiful and worthwhile showing…an invitation to a journey, rather than a simple telling.

The written word synthesizes and propels forward our cumulative culture and understanding. It deposits enduring layers on the bedrock of human wisdom and knowledge, painting fine touches of depth on this blue-green Mona Lisa orbiting the sun, contributing substantively and remarkably to the Burkean Parlor.

What an art form! I am inspired.


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