Blue Mars, the third in Kim Stanley Robinson's Mars series, is the most difficult to read. Following "Green Mars", this novel brings us full circle in the Mars story and we realize the impact of 300 years of colonization on the Red Planet.
Medical science has allowed the original "First Hundred" to remain alive, for the most part, over the entire duration of the story. That discovery, almost more than any of the others made on Mars, has the most impact of the colonists. The knowledge and experience of these individuals, the memories and strength of purpose that sent them to the stars, now more than ever, must be counted on as the planet moves closer to self-suffiency. The transformation of the planet from a God-forsaken waste to a habitable place for Man, is an amazingly well thought out, perfectly explained and a totally believible part of the reading experience.
Now that Mars is a relatively safe place for Man to move to in his desire to escape Earth, which is not faring well even after 300 years, the old thinking - the old way of doing things - is threatening everything that the colonists have built. Over-population is still a problem - who gets to live on Mars? How do they govern themselves? Are they part of Earth, or an independent world? Do they want to take all the old, bad things that forced the orignal mission into existance and transplant the whole mess to space?
The realization that the "First Hundred" are now over 300 years old was a bit unsettling at first, but as the book moves forward, and we learn first hand how they influence and are influenced by what they have built on Mars, it makes perfect sense to me. The story line in "Blue Mars" moves forward in jumps of about 10 years each, taken from different characters perspectives, making this a unique way of storytelling, different from the first two.
In looking back over the series as a whole, I must admit by being overwhelmed by the scope of time and place and people included, as well as the number of pages written. This was a huge task - these are BIG books. But throughout, Kim Stanley Robinson has managed to give us characters that have sticking power, places that you can see and feel in your imagination, and alot to think about. I really can't think of anything I did not like about this book, or the other two.
One would hope that the people who will eventually travel to Mars, or anywhere else in and out of our Universe, read these three books - a good example of how it should, and in many places, should not be done in the future. These books should be required carry-on baggage for every NASA mission from now on.