Interview with Jex Collyer and Blue Mars Review

Should it be With? It should be With. Please reconsider the title as: Interview With Jex Collyer and Blue Mars Review. But just in case, I’m not actually going to change it.

Tonight I have for you not just one but two amazing things. The first is Jex Collyer in her long awaited interview for Literature Emergency Broadcast. Jex is absolutely amazing and one of the most motivating writers I’ve had the pleasure of interviewing. She’s so motivating that I encourage all you writers out there to listen to this interview every morning to get you pumped and ready for driving out a novel a week. Jex also had some great things to say about music, working with a small press, and women in science fiction.

Click here to listen!

jex

You can find Jex’s home on the internet here. Be sure to check her out. She is in the habit of posting excellent flash fiction, as well as great life lessons for aspiring writers.

Now!

I do have a review for you, and I also have some news. The news is that I will be replacing Indie and More Book Review with Indie and More Book … Reading. Admittedly, the title needs work. Last year I proposed an audio book sampling where independent and small press authors could have a sample of their work narrated and distributed for free. Well, I’d like to do this, and use the time I have been putting into Indie and More. Because as much fun as it is to have a book review show, it’s just as good to post reviews on the blog here, and at the end of the day I think the audio sampling is going to be more beneficial to authors.

Indeed.

I should be making a promise right here to be back more often. But I don’t want to make that promise. I’ve written a lot of words in my days as a writer and most of them have been fiction. So let me not write it. Let me do it. When I’m here, you will know it. And I hope I can live up to my unwritten promise to be here for you a whole lot more, doing things that will help you and make your life more entertaining and colourful, and your work that bit easier.

Without further apu, here’s the review.

 

Blue Mars by Kim Stanley Robinson

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This world-spanning sci-fi epic is the last in the Red Mars trilogy. Here we see Earth finally stabilising from its rising sea levels only for the hypermethuselan disaster to take over: Earth’s population aren’t dying of old age or disease, but the population keeps growing from the base, and Earth’s resources, so impacted by the flood, are at breaking point. Earth is increasingly looking to Mars to take on the excess population. Mars, which has a population of just a few million, and is only starting to have a liveable atmosphere, knows it hasn’t a hope of accommodating Earth’s excess billions.

It’s in this tense atmosphere that Mars and Earth both must radically accelerate into a new socio-political climate, a new look on their environments and sustainability, or face mutual destruction.

 

I just love this trilogy. There’s such a huge amount of science behind it; you learn all sorts of things. There doesn’t seem to be any field in which Robinson isn’t comfortable speaking. Physics, mathematics, geology, politics, society, love, sailing, lighting, gene manipulation, neurology, psychology.

But sometimes, particularly in the topographical descriptions, there were so many words that I didn’t know the meaning of that it became quite frustrating. Things like arroyo, dorsa, dyke (in the sense of a levy), caldera, escarpment, graben fault, lenticular islands … I only have the faintest impression of the meanings of these things. When they’re used to describe a landscape, when they are our only window into an alien landscape, it’s exasperating to be barraged with them. The imagination is looking for information and receiving fragments it can only half understand. The visual is ruined. And, for instance, an arroyo is a dry creek bed. It just seems that when you are providing your readers with this important visual information that it would be better to say, “A dry creek bed,” rather than just the blank question mark of an arroyo.

 

But topography aside, I found I had little trouble with the terminology. I have heard other readers complain that the trilogy talks above the readers, and I’m not sure if they mean the few Robinson creations (like hypermethuselan) or some of the weightier scientific phrases. But the physics terms are all pretty common, nuclear and especially quantum physics being so much more in the fore in recent years undoubtedly helps with this. No one baulks any more at the mention of string theory. You don’t have to understand it to appreciate its small part in the book, either, which helps. Asking readers to have a working understanding of string theory may be just a little too tall an order. So I can both understand and rebuff this complaint. It was a small issue.

 

Onto character drama. I loved it. The characters in the Mars trilogy have always been larger than life, particularly the First Hundred. In Blue Mars there are still some of the familiar faces, Sax, Ann, Maya, Nadia, Coyote, Hiroko and others; and the others who have joined us along the way; Art, Nirgal, Jackie, Zeke and Charlotte. These characters are all so huge. Sax, who at first represented the cutting edge of science, its carelessness and idea of driving progress, who has been through many metamorphoses, and now seems almost in orbit of Ann, constantly evolving his actions and ideas in an attempt to please her and rectify the wrongs he has done her, and through her, Mars. Then there’s Ann herself, the face of the old Mars, the original red dust planet. We see Ann going through periods of great depression, to the point we’re constantly worried she’s going to throw herself into Pavonis Mons, but Ann too evolves, rethinking what it means to preserve the original state while allowing room for the new.

And then there’s Hiroko and Boone, two invisible forces which have directed Mars from the beginning. Even Frank Chalmers, who has been absent for so long, is kept alive by Maya and by the politics concreting themselves in Martian daily life. Hiroko and her people and her idea of viriditas, of a green Mars, have disappeared, or at least diffused; everywhere, nowhere, almost a mythology, a kind of Elvis of the physical sciences. And Boone’s lifestyle, his positivity and arrogance and confidence and charisma and love of life present in the attitude of every born Martian. These huge cultural influences, extending so far beyond the reach of any one character, but still personified, memories carried by their present companions, interacting, feuding, constantly changing themselves even as their meaning to others changes in a different direction, spreading out and out and out into the world, the worlds, over the decades, a soap opera of cultural values played out across the solar system.

 

It’s such a beautiful book. It’s incredible, it’s marvellous. I read it and each time I put it down I felt better, happier, I felt there is something we can all do to make a better world. There is a pervasive sense of hope and beauty in the Mars series which surpasses any one part of it. The ideas are revolutionary: the politics, the society, the science. All immense topics boldly addressed and wonderfully resolved. If it’s a book of prophecies, then let it be so.

So read it! What else can be said? It’s one of my favourite books and it’s certainly my favourite series. You will never look at an arroyo the same way again. So just read it!

*

That’s it from me tonight. Be sure to check out Jex, who will ensure you have a wonderful evening.

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About Anneque D. Machelle

Anneque "Dangerpus" Machelle (rhymes with ranger wuss) is a rebel and a rogue from way out west. Strictly banned from interactions with other human beings, she spends her days amongst molluscs, dogs and lizards, whom she counts as her closest friends.

Posted on March 31, 2014, in Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 15 Comments.

  1. Fantastic interview and review. Yourself and Jex are awesome as always, and I am sorely tempted to reacquire the Mars Trilogy. Maybe the book exchange still has them…

    Keep up the great work =)

  2. You are ten types of legend

  3. Spectacular! What a pleasure to listen to two humans — 😉 — who both love writing and make it sound like the most thrilling thing in the world to do.

    Thanks for this!

  4. What an awesome interview! 😀 Great to put a voice to the face, Jex.

  5. Great interviewer and interviewee! Jex’s love of the craft comes through her voice as much as her blog! I’m inspired.

  6. In everything I read here, I hear your voice. It’s just like you still have the review recorded. This series sounds like great sci fi. It’s on my list.

  1. Pingback: Striking the Balance – Editing as Art rather than Science | The Path – J. S. Collyer's Writing Blog

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