Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Martian Rainbow, a 1991 hard SF novel by Robert L. Forward

Martian Rainbow (1991), a hard science fiction novel by physicist Robert L. Forward

Pictured: Paperback (New York: Ballantine Books, 1992), #37772, 308 p., $4.99. Cover art by Jim Burns. Here's the promotional piece from the back cover:

The battle for Mars was brief and almost bloodless. General Alexander Armstrong led U.N. forces to stunning victory over what he considered the Russian usurpers of the red planet. He returned to Earth for a hero’s welcome, leaving the cold, sparsely settled world to the scientists -- and his twin brother, Dr. Augustus Armstrong, new Governor of Mars.

Alex’s Martian conquest was his ticket to the White House. As Infinite Lord and President of the United States, his ambition was complete control of all of Earth -- and of Mars!

Gus wanted only to be left in peace to direct his research programs. But as Alex’s power grew, so did the danger that he and fanatical followers would disband the distant, struggling colony. And Alex wouldn’t hesitate to use force against any who defied him.

Mars must be ready to defend herself, or die.

Gus Armstrong could not know that the slim chance for human independence -- even survival -- on Mars lay with the frozen remains of an ancient Martian creature, dead for more than two billion years!

Martian Rainbow has an interesting 18-page appendix titled “New Colonists' Guide to Mars” (2047), which covers dry facts about Mars, moons, clock and calendar, money, atmosphere, carbon dioxide poisoning, fires, places and normally unoccupied camps.

According to the Historical Dictionary of Science Fiction Literature (2004), Forward's novel is a “restrained political fantasy” layered with “libertarian rhetoric.”

A brief 1991 review from Library Journal concluded that Martian Rainbow is “not an essential purchase,” while a longer piece from Kirkus Reviews concluded that Forward’s novel is “a sophomoric rehash of standard notions, with cartoon characters and strained plotting, though the accurate, informative Marsology helps.” A more traditional review by Robert B. Schmunk of Rice University concluded that “despite the massive problems I had with Martian Rainbow, I still found much of the book fascinating.”

No comments: