So this is the first novel in a series of three novels and a collection of short stories. The novels get progressively longer and this one already clocks in at 575 pages. So all told the series comprises about 2000 pages. The novel is an expansive granular-level investigation into a Mars colonization project which would start this current decade and one of the central figures of the project is my age — I mean literally — in that he was born in 1982 (I was born in 1981). So the novel begins with a moment deep into the novel, a man whom we don’t really know yet walking through a new kind of multicultural bazaar where members of vastly different Earth nationalities have paired up in myriad combinations of allyship.
We then zip back several decades to the ship containing the “First Hundred”, the initial spate of scientists and other colonists from primarily Japan, Russia, and the US who will set up not only the initial scientific and living installations on the planet, but also set up the slowly widening variety of ideological attitudes of the new colony. These range from aggressive pro-terraforming ideas to non-intrusive ideas, from pro-capitalist and even colonial-orientation to earth to socialist equality initiatives. These breakdowns parallel (not in ideology but in emulative form) the American forefathers or other settlers in the New World had in their visions for the new continent. The result as the planet moves forward is a distinct set of competing ideas as the work of settling the planet moves forward. Because their conversations, debates, and decisions are also being simulcast back to earth, they find that successive waves of settlers have more or less already made up their minds as their own positions as they land, which heightens the debates and of course leads to clashes.
The novel is, like I said, granular. Things move slowly and while there is a plot, it’s mostly given way to a collective storytelling ala William Bradford’s Of Plymoth Plantation or something similar. In a way, the novel is a lot like John Dos Passos’s The USA Trilogy with shifting lanadscapes of storytelling and not the focus on individuals particularly (and with the socialist bent to boot).
I think I have to pace myself because as much as I like this one, and I do!, it’s a bit grueling.