Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Red Mars and Cyberpunk

I recently finished reading Red Mars, the first book of Kim Stanley Robinson's Mars trilogy and let me tell you, it's pretty damn good. The reason I wanted to get this book is really because I've become very interested in cyberpunk literature. About a year or so ago I was fortunate enough to see Rudy Rucker, author of some well-known sci-fi books such as White Light and the Ware tetralogy, give a lecture at RIT and he really got me thinking more about writing, science fiction, technology, and the world around us. I had never heard of Rucker before but I heard he was a great writer, so I had to go. He was not lecturing specifically on the topic of cyberpunk, but rather his computer science ideas of interpreting the world as deterministic equations, however he did mention his writing and that it was considered cyberpunk. Overall the lecture was very interesting and I left with a lot to think about. Afterwards I began looking up some things about cyberpunk online, what it is, what writers are involved, etc. I am a huge fan of dystopian/utopian stories so this sounded right up my alley. I obtained a copy of Red Mars as soon as I could and prepared from some great adventures. And at first I was confused. This book was supposed to be cyberpunk but the first half of it or so is mostly about scientists colonizing Mars. Not that this was boring, the way Robinson writes is very personal and gets right into the characters' heads which makes for some intense reading, but it wasn't what I expected. However in the second half when politics and violence start coming into play on the newly colonized planet, I began to understand why it is considered cyberpunk: you've got a revolution taking place on a very inhospitable planet and led by scientists who can create things such as extremely potent pharmaceutical drugs and longevity treatments. Another thing that struck me in this book is the attention that was paid to scientific and geographic details, especially the ones referring to the terraforming and colonization of Mars. I cannot wait to read the second book; this is science fiction at its best.

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