It’s so long ago (over twenty years) since I read Red Mars that I don’t remember much of it, aside from some woman having a lot of babies. Green Mars was marginally more interesting but Blue considerably less so. It also feels MUCH longer. While the science is fascinating, the story isn’t. This is no doubt because there is hardly any story, or, at least, the one that unfolds is in such broad strokes that it leaves you utterly uninvolved. There isn’t a single character that is likeable. Some of them are truly awful. Mostly it doesn’t matter what you think because you can hardly tell the characters apart anyway, and even if you do manage to remember a character from one novel to the next, it doesn’t matter either because there is absolutely zero plot.
Quite a lot of the writing isn’t about Mars at all but extremely lengthy digressions into subjects like quantum mechanics, memory retrieval, the super-elderly, a planet-wide flood on Earth, and the extremes of overpopulation as a result of the never-gonna-let-you-die treatment, as well as excursions to other planets that feel like doorstop fillers. While all these subjects are interesting by themselves, they aren’t part of any plot. Oh, wait, haven’t I already said? There is no plot.
Some people go to Mars. Stuff happens. Most of them live. Some more arrive. They live too. Or die. Whatever. Blue Mars indicates water and while the thought of oceans of Mars is just wonderful, this delight doesn’t come off the page at all. Robinson’s writing is flatter than flat.
I really wish I could say I had enjoyed this trio of books. They are, after all, highly regarded and have won all sorts of awards. While the trilogy is truly visionary, it’s also too impersonal to achieve greatness. I found myself skimming many pages and not actually missing anything. I did the same with War and Peace (there are some very long, dull tracts in it) BUT the difference is that you have an emotional investment in the characters. You love them. You want to know what happens. You care who they marry and how many children they have. I didn’t care about any of Robinson’s characters. As a result, I didn’t care about Mars or any of the other planets, moons and asteroids being terraformed. I would say that this is probably not how you want your reader to feel.
If this was an endurance test, then by finishing the series, at least I can say I have passed.