23 November 2008

Red Mars, life is peaceful there

Kim Stanley Robinson is one of my favourite science fiction writers. He's that very rare beast, a writer of hard science fiction who is also a writer of fine prose. He will be a Guest of Honour at Aussiecon 4, the 68th World Science Fiction Convention (Worldcon), in Melbourne in September 2010.

In case you're wondering, hard science fiction is that sub-genre of science fiction which focuses on the science at least as much as the fiction, and which makes every effort to be consistent with known physical laws. It's hard to write, and even harder to write well. Kim Stanley Robinson manages to write works of hard SF that are also full of memorable characters, arresting images, and sophisticated political, economic and social speculation. Some people complain that his narratives stagger at times under the weight of all this material, but that complaint don't impress me much.

KSR's crowning achievement to date is his Mars Trilogy: Red Mars, Green Mars, Blue Mars (and a pendant collection of short stories and alternate takes, The Martians).

Now, via Aussiecon 4's Facebook group, comes the news that Red Mars is to be made into a TV series. Movies about Mars have a poor track record, so I'm glad that some Michael Bay or Jerry Bruckheimer isn't going to try to crunch the book down into two hours of explosions. (There are some explosions, but it helps if you know why they happen.)

A Red Mars TV series sounds promising, but it will need to be something with the psychological complexity and moral depth of (the new) Battlestar Galactica to do the book justice. Still, I'm looking forward to seeing Nadia and Arkady, Maya and Michel, Sax and John - and even Frank Chalmers and the egregious Phyllis - brought to life under the pink Martian sky. And a few explosions as well.

Red Mars, life is peaceful there
Red Mars, in the open air ...

2 comments:

maureen said...

Wow aussiecon has scored a coup.
and look at how far out they are planning 2010!
KSR is a good draw card and Red Mars is a great book on Mars... You are right! Hard sci fi is hard to do well...I'm in the middle of exploring Mars for a children's book... trying to do the science justice....and be speculative at the same time...why do I always try to do the hard stuff with my writing???
(ahh grasshopper...It's because you are pig headed and stubborn)
maybe I'll have this book finished and out by aussie con 2010
that'd be nice not holding my breath tho
maureen

Tim Jones said...

Thanks, Maureen. Worldcons are always planned about three years in advance. I've been to two, in Melbourne (1985) and San Francisco (1993) - they are fascinating, but exhausting!

Worldcons have multiple programming tracks - there probably will (and certainly should) be a children's SF programming track, so I would definitely check that out with the Con committee, especially if you have a children's SF book coming out around then.