In 2171, humanity has not only colonized the Moon, but also Mars and even a few asteroids. We’ve lived on Mars long enough to be past the frontier-roughing-it-stage and thoroughly entrenched in the political-upheaval stage. Casseia Majumdar is a student at the University of Mars when she and over eighty per cent of the student body have their contracts terminated. Just as she’s about to go home, she stumbles into a political resistance aiming to fight this atrocity. This is but the first in a long line of events throughout this novel, and at each stage Casseia becomes more and more involved in the ‘govmanagement’ machinations of this politically-young Mars. Eventually, she finds herself in way over her head, some would argue – with unimaginable power and the reason to wield it. But are those reasons good enough?
I found this book for $1 at a local book festival and picked it up on a whim. I later discovered that it’s actually third in the Queen of Angels series, but I read it as a stand-alone book and found it perfectly comprehensible. However, this book sometimes felt like a series of disconnected events, one after another. As much as I’m used to being dropped in the middle of the action when a book starts, I found Moving Mars’ beginning particularly jarring. And while I quickly understood the political and social structure of Mars, it was initially difficult to get any feeling for the characters. After the initial 50 pages of action, though, things settle down and you get to know Casseia and those important to her a bit better. As events of the book progress, you slowly but surely see their interconnections – until you’re 100 pages from the end and wonder how you couldn’t have seen it all before. To anyone hung up at the beginning of the book, I urge you to push past it and give yourself (and the characters) a chance to settle into the story.
I thought Moving Mars was an excellent, if at times slow-moving, story about political maneuvering, scientific advancements, and the lengths people will go to for both. The book is peppered with excellent world-building details that make you want a larger glimpse at this universe. I particularly loved an aside about someone having a religious pardon to legally eat meat. It’s no more than a sentence, but it’s details like that incorporated with these long-arcing stories that make Bear’s worlds seem real. And even if the characters can get enhancements to suddenly understand physics, or change their bodies to have fur or feathers, they and their struggles are highly relatable. This is a story of striving to do what’s best for your people – even if you’re not always sure what that is.
Title: Moving Mars
Author: Greg Bear
Dates read: May 6-8, May 17-30, 2016
Rating: Four stars